July 4, 2009

Favorites of the week June 30-July 4, 1930

No Journal was published July 5 or 6, 1930. Once again, a collection of my favorite items of the week. These aren't a representative selection but just the ones that made me smile or take notice.

July 4:

Researchers for the state of California find that girls are more intelligent than boys of the same age. About 10% more boys than girls are developmentally disabled; about 4% more girls than boys skip one or more grades; girls found able to study better than boys, and to be "more mature mentally." [Note: Disturbingly Familiar Item 1]

Fiat announces plan to increase output, while an Italian tariff of 100% on autos is proposed. Market not sure what to make of it; no shares traded on the Curb Exchange.. “There has been talk from time to time that a big American automobile company was seeking control of Fiat.” [Note: I swear I didn't make that one up.]

July 3:

$250,000 order placed with American Hardware Corp. for gold-plated doorknobs to be used in Waldorf-Astoria.

Eventual recovery from depression is ensured by US population growth, as seen in the recent census. 25 years ago steel capacity of 15 million tons a year was considered too high; now three times as much steel is produced annually. Similar increases have occurred in the consumption of many other products. [Note: Disturbingly Familiar Item 2]

July 2:

Bill Robinson [Bojangles], Harlem's greatest tap dancer, appearing in the Palace Theatre. Has been performing for 32 years. Famous for inventing new steps, such as the stair dance. So many performers are now imitating the stair dance that he's now doing his own imitation of himself doing it.

At a recent large corporation's stockholder meeting, the secretary was annoyed to find two men with no proxy forms. "Whom do you represent?" the secretary asked. "The short interest," the gentlemen replied.

July 1:

Editorial: D.M. Marvin, economist for Royal Bank of Canada, says present depression caused by tight credit; points out that in spite of low rediscount rate many banks are not lending due to poor balance sheets; total credit extended by the Fed. Reserve banks fell from $1.621B last Oct. to $937M in June. Proposes Fed. Reserve banks inject $500M of reserve credit by purchasing government securities. Idea is worth considering, but must be done with care to avoid inflation. [Note: Disturbingly Familiar Item 3, particularly the part in italics.]

The Big Fight - story about gambling rings trying to fix a championship boxing match; adapted from the 1928 stage play starring Jack Dempsey. Best scenes are “the gambler's conferences and the training of the fighters.” Climactic fight is unrealistic; film has too much “repetition of 'fight picture' devices, now hackneyed.” [Note: Thank God they didn't live to see Rocky.]

June 30:

Frances Perkins, NY State industrial commissioner, says Commerce Sec. Lamont is distorting unemployment figures by using percentage of total population instead of wage earners (only 40% of population). [Note: Disturbingly Familiar Item 4]

AT&T applies to Federal Radio Commission for another radio frequency to handle trans-oceanic calls. Complains that during a recent stock slump had 100 calls requested but only able to handle 29. [Note: 27 of them were from James Cramer, Sr.]

P.E. Crowley, pres. NY Central railroad: “I cannot believe that this country of ours, with its great and resourceful population ... can long remain in a state of depression, business or otherwise. I believe ... that we have turned the corner; that we will slowly but surely go forward to at least as great prosperity as has ever before been attained.” [Note: Disturbingly Familiar Item 5]

Colgate-Palmolive charged with deceptive advertising for using “naptha” in soap brand names, deceiving public into believing that said soap “contained sufficient naptha to be effective as a cleansing ingredient.”

First National Bank of Farmland, Ind. closes after cashier embezzles $12,000. [Note: May sound low, but this was approximately $12B in today's dollars. Note 2: That last note was a joke! The correct number is probably something in the $120,000-$200,000 range.]


  1. isnt $12k (1930) about $153k(2009)?

    awesome blog, keep it up!

  2. [Note: May sound low, but this was approximately $12B in today's dollars.]

    Ah, no.

    "What cost $12000 in 1930 would cost $153,348.52 in 2008."


  3. Damn, I knew I shouldn't have written that from memory :)
    This is actually an interesting topic - my opinion is that the further you get from a time, the more difficult it is to calculate an equivalent value for money, since the factors start to diverge a lot for different things and new stuff comes along that really has no equivalent earlier.

  4. Marvin ...."Proposes Fed. Reserve banks inject $500M of reserve credit by purchasing government securities. Idea is worth considering, but must be done with care to avoid inflation."

    Sounds like Krugman today!

    "Thus the remedy for the boom is not a higher rate of interest but a lower rate of interest! For that may enable the so-called boom to last. The right remedy for the trade cycle is not to be found in abolishing booms and thus keeping us permanently in a semi-slump; but in abolishing slumps and thus keeping us permanently in a quasi-boom. (J.M. Keynes, General Theory, p. 322)"


  5. I think you owe it to future readers and Googlers to correct your $12 billion number (with an acknowledgment in the text).

  6. Noumenon -
    It was a joke! A JOKE! I SWEAR!!! :) I thought it was funny that a bank closed after losing $12,000, even in 1930 dollars, so I inserted that "explanation." Didn't think it possible it would be taken seriously since that would mean someone with a dollar in 1930 was equivalent to a millionaire today.

    Anyway, correction inserted. The correct factor is probably in the low teens, although as I said above it becomes less meaningful as time goes on.