A profit of 26 millions on a capital of 60 millions—a profit at the rate of 431/3% these are indeed fascinating figures. And what has not this stirring[c] mobilier effected with its grand capital of something like two and a half millions of pounds sterling? With sixty million francs in hand they have subscribed to the French loans first 250 millions, and afterwards 375 millions more; they have acquired an interest in the principal railways of France—they have undertaken the issue of the loan contracted by the Austrian Association for the Railways of the State—they have participated in the Western and Central railways of Switzerland—they have taken an interest in a considerable operation, professing for its object the canalisation of the Ebro from Saragossa to the Mediterranean—they had their hands in the amalgamation of the omnibuses at Paris, and in the constitution of the General Maritime Company—they have brought about by their intervention the amalgamation of all the old gas companies of Paris into one enterprise—they have, as they say, made a present of 300,000 francs to the people by selling them corn below the market price—they have decided on peace and war by their loans, erected new and propped up old lines of railways—illuminated cities, given an impulse to the creations of manufacture and the speculations of commerce, and lastly extended their swindling propaganda over[d] France and scattered the fruitful seeds of their institution over the whole continent of Europe.
The "Crédit Mobilier" thus presents itself as one of the most economical phenomena of our epoch wanting a thorough sifting. Without such a research it is impossible either to compute the chances of the French Empire or to understand the symptoms of the general convulsion of society manifesting themselves through-out Europe. We shall investigate first into what the board calls its theoretic principles and then test their practical execution which, possibly, as the report informs us, have been until now but partially realised, and attend as immensely greater development in the future.
The principles of the society are set forth in its statutes, and in the different, but principally in the first, reports made to the shareholders. According to the preamble of the statutes, and
"considering the important services which might be rendered by the establishment of a society having for its aim to favour the development of the industry of the public works, and to realise the conversion of the different titles of various enterprises through the means of consolidating them in one common fund, the founders of the 'Crédit Mobilier' have resolved to carry into effect so useful a work, and consequently they have combined to lay down the basis of an anonymous society, under the denomination of the General Society of the 'Crédit Mobilier'".[e]
Our readers will understand by the word "anonymous society,"[f] a joint-stock company with limited responsibility of the shareholders, and that the formation of such a society depends on a privilege arbitrarily granted by the Government.
The "Crédit Mobilier" then proposes to itself firstly to "favour the development of the industry of the public works," which means to make industry of public works in general dependent on the favour of the "Crédit Mobilier", and therefore on the individual favour of Bonaparte, on whose breath the existence of the society is suspended. The Board does not fail to indicate by what means it intends to bring about this its patronage, and that of its imperial patron[g], over the whole French industry. The various industrial enterprises carried on by joint stock companies, are represented by different titles, shares, obligations, bonds, debentures, etc. Those different titles are of course rated at different prices in the money market, according to the capital they trade upon, the profits they yield, the different bearing of demand and offer upon them, and other economical conditions. Now what intends the "Crédit Mobilier"?
To substitute for all these different titles carried on by different joint stock companies, one common title issued by the "Crédit Mobilier" itself. But how can it effect this? By buying up with its own titles the titles of the various industrial concerns. Buying up all the bonds, shares, debentures, etc.; in one word the titles of a concern, is buying up the concern itself. Hence the "Crédit Mobilier" avows the intention of making itself the proprietor, and Napoleon the Little the supreme director of the whole great French industry. This is what we call Imperial Socialism.
In order to realise this programme, there are needed, of course, some financial operations, and M. Isaac Péreire in tracing their operations of the "Crédit Mobilier," naturally feels himself on delicate ground, is obliged to put limits to the society considered purely accidental and intended to disappear in its development, and rather throws out a feeler than to divulge at once his ultimate scheme to the world.[h]
The social fund of the society has been fixed at 60,000,000 francs divided into 120,000 shares of 500 francs each, payable to the bearer.[i]
The operations of the society, such as they are defined in the statutes, may be ranged under three heads. Firstly, operations for the support of the great industry, secondly, creation of a value issued by the society for replacing, or amalgamating the titles of different industrial enterprises, thirdly, the ordinary operations of banking, bearing upon public funds, commercial bills, etc.
The operations of the first category, intended to obtain for the society the patronage of industry, are enumerated in art. V of the statutes, which says:
"To subscribe for, or acquire public funds, shares, or obligations in the different industrial or credit enterprises, constituted as anonymous societies, and especially those of railways, canals, mines, and other public works already established, or about to be established. To undertake all loans, to transfer and realise them, as well as all enterprises of public works."[j]
We see how this article already goes beyond the pretensions of the preamble, by proposing to make the "Crédit Mobilier" not only the proprietor of the great industry, but the slave of the Treasury, and the despot of commercial credit.
The operations of the second category, relating to the substitution of the titles of the "Crédit Mobilier" for the titles of all other industrial enterprises, embraces the following:
"To issue in equal amounts for the sums employed for subscriptions of loans and acquisitions of industrial titles the society's own obligations."
Articles 7 and 8 indicate the limits and the nature of the obligations the society has power to issue. These obligations, or bonds
"are allowed to reach a sum equal to ten times the amount of the capital. They must always be represented for their total amount by public funds, shares, and obligations in the society's hands. They cannot be made payable at less than 45 days notice. The total amount of the sums received in account-current and of the obligations created at less than a year's run shall not exceed twice the capital realised."
The third category, lastly, embraces the operations necessitated by the exchange of commercial values. The society "receives money at call." It is authorised "to sell or give in payment for loans all sorts of funds, papers, shares, and obligations held by it, and to exchange them for other values." It lends on "public funds, deposits of shares and obligations, and it opens account-currents on their different values." It offers to anonymous societies "all the ordinary services rendered by private bankers, such as receiving all payments on account of the societies, paying their dividends, interest, etc." It keeps a deposit of all titles of those enterprises, but in the operations relating to the trade in commercial values, bills, warrants, etc., "it is expressly understood that the society shall not make clandestine sales nor purchases for the sake of premium."
Notes[a] D. Ricardo, On the Principles of Political Economy, and Taxation.—Ed.
[b] I. Péreire, "Rapport présenté par le conseil d'administration dans l'assemblée générale ordinaire des actionnaires du 23 avril 1856", Le Moniteur universel, No. 117, April 26, 1856.—Ed.
[c] The New-York Daily Tribune has "wonderful".—Ed.
[d] The NYDT has "influence beyond the frontiers of France".—Ed.
[e] "Décret portant autorisation de la société anonyme formée a Paris sous la denomination de Société générale de Crédit Mobilier. 18 novembre-11 décembre 1852."—Ed.
[f] The New-York Daily Tribune has "Our readers will bear in mind that the French understand by the word..."—Ed.
[g] The NYDT has "creator".—Ed.
[h] The end of the sentence from the words "and rather throws..." is omitted in the New-York Daily Tribune.—Ed.
[i] The words "payable to the bearer" are omitted in the New-York Daily-Tribune.—Ed.
[j] "Décret portant autorisation de la société anonyme formée a Paris..."—Ed.
[k] A quotation from De litteris, syllabis et metris (Carmen heroicum, verse 258) by the Roman grammarian and poet Terentianus Maurus.—Ed.
[l] Golden mean.—Ed.
[m] Gods of finance. The Gods are passing away (cf. F. Chateaubriand, Les Martyrs ou le Triomphe de la religion chrétienne).—Ed.
[n] Joint-stock companies with limited liability; see also "Projet de loi sur les sociétés en commandite par actions", Le Moniteur universel, No. 153, June 1, 1856.—Ed.
[o] Joint-stock companies.—Ed.
[p] I. Péreire, "Rapport présenté par le conseil d'administration dans l'assemblée générale ordinaire et extraordinaire des actionnaires du 29 avril 1854", Le Moniteur universel, No. 121, May 1, 1854.—Ed.
[q] F. Persigny.—Ed.
[r] F. Persigny, "Rapport à l'Empereur", Le Moniteur universel, No. 172, June 21, 1854.—Ed.
[s] Joint-stock companies with limited liability. See also p. 15.—Ed.
[t] Count de Montalembert's speech at the sitting of the Corps Législatif on May 31, 1856, The Times, No. 22386, June 5, 1856.—Ed.
[u] Cf. Ch. Fourier, Théorie des quatre mouvements et des destinées générales.—Ed.
[v] Here and below see l. Péreire, "Rapport présenté par le conseil d'administration clans l'assemblée générale ordinaire des actionnaires du 23 avril 1856." Le Moniteur universel, No. 117, April 26, 1856.—Ed.
[w] Here: state securities.—Ed.
[x] I. Péreire, "Rapport présenté par le conseil d'administration...", Le Moniteur universel, No. 117, April 26, 1856.—Ed..
[y] Philip II, Duke of Orleans.—Ed.
 The Crédit Mobilier is short for the Société générale du Crédit Mobilier—a French joint-stock bank founded in 1852 by the Péreire brothers. The bank was closely connected with the Government of Napoleon III and, protected by it, engaged in speculation. It went bankrupt in 1867 and was liquidated in 1871.
The first article on Crédit Mobilier was published by Marx in The People's Paper without any indication that it was "to be continued". The editors of the New-York Daily Tribune who published the subsequent articles on the subject printed them as a series and defined them by ordinal numbers.
In this volume the numbers of articles are put in square brackets as subtitles.
 Louis Bonaparte was nicknamed "the Little" by Victor Hugo in a speech in the Legislative Assembly in November 1851; the nickname became popular after the publication of Hugo's pamphlet Napoléon le Petit (1852).
 In May 1852 Louis Bonaparte's presidential powers were to expire and, according to the Constitution of the French Republic of 1848, new elections were to be held on the second Sunday in May. In view of this the Bonapartists began to prepare a coup d'état in the second half of 1851. They launched a propaganda campaign trying to intimidate the man in the street with the possible victory of democrats and socialists and with the anarchy which, they claimed, would set in if "the red spectre" was victorious.
 The Society of December 10—a secret Bonapartist organisation founded in 1849 and consisting mainly of declassed elements, political adventurers and the military. For details see Marx's work The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (present edition, Vol. 11, pp. 148-51).
 The Fronde, a movement in France against the absolutist regime from 1648 to 1653, involved various social sections—from radical peasant and plebeian elements and the bourgeoisie in opposition to high-ranking officials and aristocrats—which in many cases pursued opposite aims. The defeat of the Fronde led to the strengthening of absolutism.
 The Corps Législatif was established, alongside the State Council and the Senate, under the Constitution of February 14, 1852, after the Bonapartist coup d'état -of 1851. Its powers were confined to endorsing bills drawn up by the State Council. The Corps Législatif was an elected body. However, the elections were supervised by state officials and the police, so that a majority obedient to the government was ensured. In fact it served as a screen for Napoleon III's unlimited powers.
This refers to an Act to remove doubts respecting promissory notes of the Governor and Company of the Bank of England, for payment of sums of money under £5 of March 3, 1797 and An Act for continuing for a limited time, the restriction contained in the minute of Council of the 26th of February, 1797, on payment of cash by the bank of May 3, 1797 which established a compulsory rate of banknotes and gave temporary permission to the Bank to stop the exchange of banknotes for gold. In 1821 the exchange was resumed under the law of 1819.
Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 15 (pp.8-24), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1980