August 2, 2009

Favorites of the week July 28-August 2, 1930

No Journal was published Sunday, August 3, 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.

August 2:

[Note: Movies were much more interesting then dept.] Howard Hughes to release movie Hell's Angels after spending 3 years and $4M in production; third film by Hughes following Two Arabian Nights and The Racket; enlarged screen being installed for premiere. Terra Film of Berlin to release Love in the Ring, Max Schmeling's first talking film; dialogue mostly in German but some English, French, and Portuguese. Warner Bros. to release sound version of Moby Dick with John Barrymore.

[Advertisement: Howard Hughes' Hell's Angels is available on Amazon, as well as the fantabulous poster on the right - some acting and dialogue feel dated, but amazing aerial scenes, including my vote for the best Zeppelin scene ever, and a huge dogfight that still packs a wallop. Also includes a stupefying 19-year old Jean Harlow in her first major role, including the only surviving color footage of her in a short Technicolor party scene].

[Note: Strangely familiar dept.] Walter P. Chrysler sees improvement in auto industry, believes business generally on upturn; not overly optimistic about immediate future, but believes business in almost every line has hit bottom; also believes commodity prices at bottom. Pres. Grace of Bethlehem Steel confident bottom reached in steel demand and prices. Erie Rail Pres. C. Denney sees some signs of improvement.

August 1:

[Note: If only they had lived to see Donald Trump.] Editorial: Good terms obtained by Mexico in debt settlement "shows what a debtor can accomplish if his nerve and ability to procrastinate are sufficiently lasting." Also noted is Germany's success in cutting reparations to a fourth of original demands. However, Mexico is now in the penalty box; "Only after demonstrating her ability and disposition to meet obligations beyond question and quibble will it be worth her while to attempt further outside borrowing."

[Note: Does this mean we get Christina Aguilera in laces and ribbons?] Romance is replacing "realism and matter-of-factness" in both fashion and theater. "The post-war years of bobbed tresses and short skirts" were ones of "rude materialism." In theater, "the measured rhythms of poetic drama were muted in the hurdy-gurdy tunes of a quick-stepping generation." Now, theater managers travelling to Europe find fashion returning to "laces and ribbons and sweet old-fashioned flowers," and in theater a revival of "old-fashioned love stories or flaming medieval romances." Of course, romance never went out of style some places: "It is axiomatic among American showmen that, west of the Hudson, American audiences have always been frankly sentimental."

[Note: Danger of historical analogies dept.] Walker Brothers point out strong similarities of current business and market conditions with 1921. Market pattern of break last fall, followed by recovery and second break in spring, almost identical to 1921 in both timing and percentage. Other indicators including commodity prices, freight loadings, and dividend yields also similar. First indicator improving in 1921 was construction, two months before stocks hit lows [followed by 8-year bull market]. Therefore encouraging that construction turned up in June.

July 31:

Some interesting observations on concentration of wealth by L.M. Shaw, Treasury Sec. under Pres. T. Roosevelt: “Whether fortunes of a hundred millions or more are good or bad matters not. It is as idle to rage at them, as to rave over them. ... As I read history each civilization has been self-destroying, and he who does not discern the larvae of destruction in this fails to see the obvious. ... instead of Huns and Vandals, our destroyers will be those of our own people who have had no breakfast and do not expect dinner.”

[Note: I like the precision here.] Chicago police official tells congressional committee investigating Communist activities that US has a total of 51,685 members of Communist organizations and 79,325 in sympathetic groups. On the other side are 1,089,107 in organizations actively opposed to Soviet system.

[Note: Isn't this the average size person in Chicago now?] Primo Carnera [boxer, 6'6", 280 pounds] currently traveling in US, having difficulty finding suitably large beds. Several hotels have procured special beds for him.

[Note: I'm sure this will happen any day now ... ] Editor: "I saw your paragraphs about Mr. Grace's salary in this morning's issue. Perhaps the world would be safe for democracy if it could be shown that a 'bonus system' of salaries for big executives would mean little or no bonus in a year when little or no earnings accrued to the common or garden variety of stockholders."

July 30:

[Note: Strangely familiar dept.] President Hoover asks Attorney General for major investigation of bankruptcy laws, to recommend needed reform legislation.

[Note: Truer words were never spoken dept.] The Room Wit: "The one trouble of the trader who thinks his judgement infallible ... is that the margin man bothers him too much."

July 29:

[Note: A depression is a depression, but Coca-Cola is Coca-Cola.] Coca-Cola net for first half $7.182M vs. $6.492 in 1929.

"Judge - The two men were fighting with chairs. Didn't you try to establish peace? Witness - No, there was not a third chair."

July 28:

[Note: Strangely familiar dept. - Greenspan just noted that production levels are well under consumption. ] Some positive feeling from weekly business reviews expecting bottoming out and seasonal upturn, though this expectation so far “has been based on hopes rather than actual signs of increasing activity.” Many industries have consumption running ahead of production and low inventories; credit is also very easy. In particular, resumption of car production soon is seen as positive for steel and other industries.

[Note: I think this question remains unsettled today.] Dr. W. Goodwin of Columbia carries out 400-person study of happiness. Finds happiness unaffected by age, intelligence, or education. Men generally happier than women, married people happier than single, “although the survey did not show whether celibacy induced unhappiness or unhappiness resulted in celibacy.”

[Note: $10M - that's crazy talk!] Contrary opinion from a subscriber regarding W. Grace's $1.5M bonus from Bethlehem Steel: “I don't believe there is any man worth $1M a year. Rather, I believe a man of high office in a corporation should be content with a reasonable salary and rely upon his interests as a stockholder for further compensation. I do not mean to detract from the all-important factor of management, but there must be a line drawn somewhere - if not, why shouldn't the heads of some companies like US Steel and AT&T receive $10M a year?”

1 comment:

  1. “although the survey did not show whether celibacy induced unhappiness or unhappiness resulted in celibacy.”

    That is the age old connundrum of which came first, the chicken or the egg?

    The answer has always been, "whichever got laid first."