December 15, 2009

Monday, December 15, 1930: Dow 163.34 -5.34 (3.2%)

Special Florida section:

Interesting facts: State is in same isothermal zone as Southern Spain, Egypt, and Southern China. Has 35,000 lakes and over 3,300 miles of coastline. Population increased 51% in past 10 years, second-largest increase to California. Tampa pop. about 100,000; greater Miami 150,000. Miami pop. doubles in wintertime.

Florida looks forward to active winter season; hotel bookings reported strong; Miami mayor Reeder: “Miami is ready to act as host to the greatest hegira of winter visitors in 34 years.”

[Stuff definitely worth driving five hours with three screaming kids in the back to see dept.] Must-see attractions: Silver Springs - largest spring in the world; Lake Wales - largest carillon in the world (musical instrument made of bells); Tarpon Springs - largest sponge market in the world; St. Johns River - only large US river flowing North.

Miami Beach and West Palm Beach report continued building of luxurious winter homes. C. Fisher, Miami Beach developer: “Even in times of obvious business depression, men of means continue to build their homes in the sun.” West Palm Beach home to stately villas of Harold S. Vanderbilt and Otto Kahn.

Boosters: John Benson [advertising executive]: “A huge wilderness of potential wealth ... The wide-flung network of excellent roads promises the building of more oases until all Florida becomes one great oasis, and then it will be an earthly paradise.” Peter O. Knight [prominent attorney]: “Any state that can successfully weather the catastrophes of the past 5 years as Florida has done is a state to bet on.” Alfred I. du Pont: Real estate boom thoroughly liquidated, banking situation very strong; sees prosperity ahead for state. D. Sholtz calls for putting Florida on year-round basis by attracting industry.

Assorted historical stuff:

[Productivity miracle dept.] Commerce Dept. annual report: fundamental cause of increasing US living standards is higher productivity; this uptrend in productivity proves recent economic advance was not driven mainly by business cycle but was a permanent achievement, uptrend to be continued when present recession ends. 1930 notable for continued demand for consumer goods despite recession. Making progress on reducing marketing waste, estimated to cost about $10B annually.

Washington report: Pres. Hoover offended Republican Senate leaders not defending him more vigorously against intemperate personal attacks in the Senate. Glass finance inquiry to start. Muscle Shoals controversy at the point “where each side seems to be trying to sell the other a gold brick.” Senate and House agree on $116M emergency construction bill. Officials keeping eye on developing agitation to pay off soldier bonus certificates at cost of $3B.

[Seems ridiculously low.] Census Bureau survey finds 567,540 unemployed (out of work, able to work, and seeking work) in 25 Southern and Western states, or 1.3% of population.

[Two out of three ain't bad.] R. Millikan, physicist, urges Assoc. of Life Insurance Presidents to develop insurance for unemployment, sickness, and old age, or these functions would be taken away from them by the government.

J. Pelley, NY New Haven & Hartford Rwy. pres., says rail, highway, waterway, and air transport should be coordinated, with rails as the backbone.

Editorial: Congress is apparently reaching a compromise on public power generation at Muscle Shoals. However, neither side is taking care of the one issue that could ensure the public got more from the project than “continual drafts upon the Treasury” - strict and public cost accounting. If, and only if, this is required, Muscle Shoals could be worth the cost; in fact, it would “become one of the foremost of American educational institutions, whatever its output of power ... ”

Editorial: Mexico is considering a new law guaranteeing the rights of property in lands. However, they're only doing this following “economic ruin brought about by the confiscation of property and expulsion of foreign capital and enterprise.” Foreign capital can only have confidence in the new law as far as they have faith in the government; this faith is currently low as reflected in Mexican bonds selling at 8-12 cents on the dollar. “Mexico is telling foreign capital that she has repented. But is her repentance of the pocketbook or of the heart?”

Spanish military uprising said quelled, rebels fleeing in disorder. Market less optimistic on stabilization of Spanish peseta in near future.

Fisher Bros. of Detroit to provide shelter for 2,500 destitute men at Fisher Body plant.

[They'll get to that one of these days dept.] NY Board of Estimate approves contract with Bell Labs subsidiary for elimination of noise in construction and operation of the new city subway. G. Harvey, Queens borough pres., hopeful suspended monorail will be great factor in solving borough transit problems; “I fully expect to ride in a monorail car across the entire borough in the not very distant future.”

Westinghouse Lamp Co. has built a lighting exhibit open to the public in Grand Central Palace containing a mini-city with 180-foot main street, 80-foot cross street, theater, school, 6-room house, stores, bank, art gallery, and factory; demonstrates “good lighting in all its forms.”

[Great torque but rides a little bumpy.] Christian Huygens credited with experimenting on world's first internal combustion engine in 1680; fuel was gunpowder.

Archeological excavations at Treves, Prussia find large number of molds and tools for producing Roman silver denarii. Problem is, there was no official Roman mint there, leading to conclusion this was a thriving forgery center.

Market commentary:

Market wrap: Stocks came under renewed liquidation in the short weekend session, led by US Steel but with sharp drops throughout the list. Selling pressure continued through the session; tone heavy at the close. Bond trading active; US govts. firm; foreign mixed; corp. irregular with weak tone. Commodities weak; cotton again declined to new season low. Hogs, butter, and eggs decline.

Week in review: Stock and bond markets suffered heavy selling; Dow stock and 40-bond averages hit 1930 lows. Bankers see conditions ripe for sharp technical recovery, following market pattern in 1920. German situation seen favorable on Breuning financial reforms. China currency suffers from record low in silver. Disturbances in Spain. Steel production and scrap prices continued down, but better outlook seek for early 1931. Cotton hit new season lows in spite of lower than expected crop estimate. Wheat market stable on Farm Board support; corn weak. Money markets slightly firmer on Bank of U.S. failure.

Most Exchange brokers now advise waiting to buy until the current declining movement ends, believe it's likely to “run into a climax” in the next few days. A few bolder commentators said the time has come to begin buying for the long term; with stocks, bonds, and commodities breaking simultaneously, “it was asserted that the bear market bore every indication of being in its final stages.”

Brokers report an increasing number of odd-lot (small) and full-lot investment buy orders accumulating at prices under the market.

The good stocks, that is stocks of companies that will show better earnings this year ... have gone down with the bad.”

[Ay Chihuahua! dept.] Broad Street Gossip: “One prominent banker who has attended recent consultations called by bankers to find proper remedies for existing sore spots says that in his opinion the worst is over. The skies, the banker said, are clearer now than in six months.”

Loans by NY banks to non-brokers have been declining slightly for the past three weeks, reaching $2.041B on Dec. 10, vs. $2.060B on Nov. 19. This is against the usual tendency of these loans to increase when stocks are falling sharply; nervousness over Bank of US may have kept buyers out of the market. The fact that both brokers and non-brokers loans have only declined moderately for the past three weeks indicates liquidation has not been caused by impaired margin accounts.

Liquidation in the bond market has occurred on relatively low volume; average daily trading in domestic corp. bonds has only been about $7M.

Bond market observers point to similar decline in 1920, which was then followed by substantial upturn.

W. Storey, Atchison Rwy. pres., sees slow recovery but improved business in the coming year.

L. Randall, George A. Fuller Co. pres., believes construction costs “scraping bottom”; close to lowest levels in the last decade, and 10%-14% off the peak.

Dow made new post-panic low. There were no new yearly highs and 221 new lows. Many majors and specialties made new bear market or multiyear lows, including US Steel, GE, New York Central, Anaconda, Worthington Pump.

Economic news and individual company reports:

Net foreign borrowing in US from 1914 - 1929 was $11.834B; Europe accounted for $5.752B, Canada $2.566B, South America $2.491B, Far East $811M.

Total oil co. earnings in 1930 will be about 40% below 1929. Little prospect of improvements seen before next spring.

Irving Fisher's index of 200 commodities for week ended Dec. 12 was 79.8 vs. 80.7 previous week and vs. 92.6 a year ago.

Ford Motor world production in 1930 to be under 1.5M cars and trucks vs. 2M in 1929; this will be over 42% of industry total vs. 35% in 1929. Sales have run slightly ahead of production for the first 11 months.

Caterpillar 1930 net about $4.50/share vs. $6.16 in 1929; Int'l Harvester also expected to net about $4.50/share, vs. $7.10 in 1929; both cos. report encouraging fourth quarter business so far.

NYSE seat sold for $210,000, up $5,000 from previous sale.

Companies reporting decent earnings: Sweets Co. of America.


Warner Bros. films about to start production include A Husband's Privileges, Red Hot Sinners, Beauty and the Boss, Bad Women, The Idol, God's Gift to Women, and Father Means Well.


“Wiseacre - Haven't I always given you my salary check the first of every month? Mrs. Wiseacre - Yes, but you never told me you got paid on the first and fifteenth ...”

1 comment:

  1. Though not entirely sure of the population figures at this time, do you think the 1.3% figure may have just been unusual reporting--that is, reporting the unemployed as a percentage of total population rather than the pool of potential workers? If it were the former, 1.3% seems fairly reasonable.