September 9, 2010

Wednesday, September 9, 1931: Dow 129.19 -3.43 (2.6%)

Assorted historical stuff:

US Census statistics reveal decrease in number of children in spite of growth in population over past decade; children under 1 year fell from 2.1% of the population to 1.8%, whilc people 45-64 rose from 16.1% to 17.4%, and those 65 and over rose from 4.7% to 5.4%.

Editorial favoring Farm Board's 15M bushel sale of wheat to China as helping to reduce the huge surplus on hand without competing with producers of the current crop by selling to usual importing countries. In fact, advocates making "prices ... so low and terms of credit so super-liberal that the Chinese govt. would be induced to buy much more ..."

Yet another editorial on necessity for reparations and war debt adjustment; this one bemoans reports that Pres. Hoover may seek to link cuts in war debts and reparations with arms reductions, a political question which is likely to "drag its way through years of conference and negotiation" and which the US has a doubtful ability to influence; for example, France "has lately told us in unmistakable terms that only 'organization of the world for peace' will persuade her to so much as a moderation of her preparedness for eventualities." The debt question, on the other hand, must be tackled by July 1, 1932 to avoid a repeat of the recent crisis.

British Parliament convened in extraordinary session to consider drastic spending cuts and tax increases. Debate was caustic; Laborites vehemently attacked PM MacDonald's new coalition govt.; A. Henderson, Foreign Min. in the recently resigned MacDonald Labor govt., taunted MacDonald as a deserter. In his speech, MacDonald "caused something of a sensation" when he revealed how serious the financial crisis in August had been; said if loan had not been made, sterling "would have tumbled without control." Also said his own salary would be reduced $5,000 to $20,000; appealed to all classes to "go cheerfully ... over the hard, broken road along which our security, honor and well-being must be found." Britain's King George reduces own annuities 50,000 sterling from those granted by Parliament as "example in personal sacrifices as means of economizing during the present financial crisis."

Barcelona Mayor Ayguade says syndicalists have agreed to halt violence and resume work. Spanish govt. decrees citizens living in Spain dcan't hold foreign currency, in new move to steady peseta.

Italian Foreign Minister Grandi proposes immediate armament truce among all countries who will participate in the 1932 world disarmament conference.

Montgomery-Ward will shortly sell a new electric refrigerator called the Tru Kold, which has only 3 moving parts and doesn't interfere with radio reception.

Construction of John D. Rockefeller's $250M Radio City development estimated to take 10M 8-hour workdays; over 56,000 employed directly and indirectly.

Nevada now grants divorces after a 6-week residence by the plaintiff. On May 4, 1931, when the new law became effective, 83 divorces were granted in Reno. In spite of the required oath by the plaintiff that he or she has a permanent home in Nevada, successful plaintiffs generally board a transcontinental train immediately after being granted the divorce, and don't return ... until another divorce is desired.

The cactus has caught on in a major way in Poland; florists display dozens of cacti in all kinds and sizes, and instead of sending flowers one now sends the latest kind of cactus. At a recent wedding in Warsaw, the bride carried a cactus instead of the usual bridal bouquet. [Note: Hope no one tried to catch it.]

Market commentary:

Market wrap: Stocks opened under pressure upon return from the three-day holiday; weak spots included Steel, GM, and the rails. Selling picked up momentum in morning; stop-loss orders were caught in large numbers, and the tape ran two minutes behind. Selling lightened at mid-day but no rallies developed, and another wave of selling in the leading rails developed in the afternoon. Bond prices generally lower in active trading; heavy liquidation in many domestic issues; rails particularly pressured as institutions liquidated issues on concern they might lose legal status as savings bank investments. US govts. and highest-grade corp. steady. Weakness developed in German bonds. Grains reacted along with stocks; later wheat futures hit new season lows and corn fell sharply. Cotton steady. Cocoa futures hit new record lows. Copper held at record low of 7 1/2 cents, but with output running at least 40M pounds/month over consumption, outlook is poor.

The Administration responds to charges the US is hoarding gold, saying the buildup is caused by lack of confidence abroad rather than trade imbalances or action by the US; estimates flight of capital accounts for about $2B of the $5B in US gold holdings. Only solution is restoration of confidence abroad.

Economic news and individual company reports:

NY Banking Supt. Broderick assesses Bank of US stockholders $25/share to make up $25.250M of the bank's liabilities.

New corporate bond offerings in August were lowest since April, 1919; total was $55.0M vs. $174.4M in July and $235.2M in Aug. 1930. There were no foreign corporate bond offerings. Corporate totals (foreign and domestic) for first 8 months were $2.436B vs. $5.068B in 1930 and $7.554B in 1929.

Louisiana Gov. Huey P. Long says has assurances from 5 other Southern states they will enact "cotton prohibition" legislation provided that Texas votes total abolition of 1932 crop.

Germany is reportedly close to concluding negotiations for a loan to buy 16.5M bushels of US wheat; terms will be 3 years at 4 1/2%.

Austrian budget deficit for 1930 $1.8M, first deficit in 7 years.

East Texas restarted oil production Saturday on basis of 225 barrels per well per day; however, production in the area won't be allowed to exceed 400,000 barrels/day for 30-day period. W. Farish, Humble Oil pres., criticizes Texas Railroad Commission order as putting "a premium on unnecessary development" by not limiting drilling of new wells; predicts decision will lead to production of larger amount of East Texas oil than can be easily absorbed. J. Kessler, managing dir. of Royal Dutch Shell, says political situation of large part of the world threatened by overproduction of commodities including oil; oil industry has "duty to the world as a whole" to end overproduction by international cooperation. Gasoline in the Chicago wholesale market weakened to 4 1/4 - 4 3/4 cents/gallon.

Rail freight loadings for week ended Aug. 22 were 763,764, up 15,053 from prev. week, down 22.3% from 1930 week, and down 34.3% from 1929. New Haven RR cuts quarterly dividend to $1 from $1.50.

Holland Tunnel traffic in August set a monthly record for the third time in 1931, with 1.224M vehicles.

Olds Motor reports August increase of 19% in domestic sales vs. 1930, an improvement from the 16% year-over-year increase in July.

Companies reporting decent earnings: Amer. Gas & Elec. (doing better than the average utility holding co. due to its "good fortune in providing electric service only"), Alaska Juneau Gold Mining.


Customer - I chose a $25 suit, but you've charged me $26 on the bill. Tailor - Yes, I've added the postage for the threatening letters I shall have to send.

"I spent $25,000 on my daughter's education, and now she's gone and married a fellow that makes $1,500 a year. What do you think of that?" "Well, it's 6% on your money, ain't it?"

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