A Mercantile Agency in this city has pre-14 pared a circular, showing the extent of the .*) late commercial panic, as recorded in their jjbooks. The number of firms in the United States, by their records, is 204,061. There has been lost by 337 swindling and absconding debtors, $5,222,500, and by 512 firms which will pay nothing, $20,309,000. There are 3,803 concerns owing $197,080,500, such cases as usually average 40 to 50 cents; and there are 435 houses owing $77,189,000, which will pay in full, leaving a final loss of $143,-780,000. This " senseless panic," as it has justly been characterized, not only swept over the whole United States with the ferocity of a hurricane ; but it has now reached the very furthermost bounds of civilization. A journal in this city, peculiarly fond of horrid details, and which sees " raw head and bloody bones" in all the transactions of business out of its own pure self, estimates the total liabilities resulting from the failures in Europe at $400,000,000, with assets of only $80,000,000, thus showing a loss (if the figures do not lie) of $320,000,000. There can be no doubt of the fact that, in in proportion to the actual wants of the people, there are too many traders and too few producers. This state of things naturally incites competition, and stimulates credits to an alarming degree. This should not be so; but we doubt if the terrible lessons of 1857 will be heeded. It has been said that " a wise man will learn wisdom from his own experience ; but no human being ever learned anything from the experience of others."
This article was originally published with the title "What the Panic has Cost" in Scientific American 13, 20, 160 (January 1858)