WALKING THE PLANK

France's plight has reached the climatic stage. Premier Flandin's composite cabinet seems about to topple in the midst of its strenuous efforts to win a grant of dictatorial powers in order to continue a losing fight to maintain the present gold parity of the franc. Although the crisis may be staved off for the moment with the formation of a new cabinet granted the desired authority by the legislature, competent observers agree that "devaluation" must come in a very short time. Depleted reserves in the Bank of France, in addition to an increasing flight of capital and the constant currency warfare between Great Britain and the United States, make any alternative purely imaginery.

The struggle which the French have made for months to maintain their gold standard has reached heroic proportions. Their inflationary experience of a little over a decade ago convinced them that a decision to devaluate is nothing short of an invitation to disaster, a voluntary walking of the plank. It's much more than a political creed; it's a national frame of mind, the result of bitter experience.

France's departure from the gold standard will bring further instability in the foreign exchange market, and probably increase the number of players in the game of blind man's buff, now limited to secretly-operated committees in America and England. Foreign trade will dry up into an even smaller trickle than it is at present. The only cheerful prospect is that when the currency-tampering disease becomes well-night universal, all afflicted nations will have to seek an immediate, cooperative cure, and that no insolent rejection of stabilization pleas will be heard from an administration which in 1933 told the London Economic Parley that we were going along at our own gait. Only complete disruption of trade, aparantly, will lead to international cooperation. Without this new attitude one of the mainsprings of recovery will be permanently crippled.