June 7, 2009

Weekly Digest June 2-7, 1930: Dow 263.93 -9.91 (3.6%)

Assorted historical stuff:

Was Chesley Sullenberger, Sr. at the controls? - A New York-bound Colonial Air Transport plane crashed into Boston Harbor shortly after takeoff. The 14 passengers on board were badly shaken up, but nobody was hurt.

And you thought daytrading from your front porch was cool - Stock order received from a traveller on the Graf Zeppelin, transmitted from the radio station on the airship.

Chrysler building formally opened last Tuesday, Walter P. Chrysler in attendance. Most of the ground floor and basement leased for a new Schrafft's store.

American movie industry passes a milestone – from now on, instead of exporting Hollywood films to world markets the industry will have producing units in other countries; instead of internationalizing the Hollywood film will make films indigenous to each country in which it operates. This plan appears to have been a reaction to the introduction of talkies, which threaten to end the easy foreign profits for American films (“In Paris, audiences rioted in protest against the foreign tongue which, from movie screens, was resounding throughout the land. In Berlin 'mammy' songs were muted”). At this point American movie companies are making up to 30% of revenues in the foreign markets, which is a great help in maintaining “the squanderous standard of production of Hollywood films”.

The British government abandoned the long-contemplated plan for a tunnel under the English Channel.

Canadian government carries out aerial bombing raids on schools of porpoises blamed for predation on cod.

Spider-silk – like rayon fibers only .0004 of an inch in diameter have been produced by the American Bemberg company. Rayon may replace the natural silk produced by silk worms, but “Until now the spider has remained unchallenged in his own restricted field, dark corners of attics and of Greenwich Village tea rooms.” A new Broadway restaurant with an Algerian decor has been provided with synthetic spiderwebs made by this process.

Market commentary:

Henry Ford says business is getting back to normal and the worst of the economic depression is past.

Brokers and financiers “seem to think the business depression has touched bottom, and the next turn will be for the better.”

Present dull period is giving Wall Street brokers time to improve their prowess at many games, including golf, bridge, checkers, chess, and ping pong.

National City Bank of New York anticipates an early recovery. Admits that so far recovery hasn't been marked, but “business has been on the down-grade for nearly a year and in the past 30 years depressions have rarely lasted for a longer period”. Says the danger now is excessive pessimism as opposed to a year ago when it was optimism. Admits serious problems including the worldwide business downturn and fall in commodity prices, but the country has repeatedly demonstrated ability to recover in the past. For the last 30 years, with the possible exception of 1914 (WWI), when business has begun a depression in one year it's always at least started the recovery before end of next year. True that if we look back further there have been some more prolonged depressions (panics of 1873, 1884, 1893). But U.S. business was much less diversified then, and “lacked the recuperative power demonstrated in more recent years”. Also, money markets were uncertain then, as opposed to current easy money conditions. With credit conditions this favorable and the past record of recoveries, predicts a recovery starting slowly in the summer and apparent by fall.

Economic news and individual company reports:

Fed. Reserve Bank of NY reports earnings of 257 companies now available show Q1 1930 earnings down 22% from 1929 but up 5% over 1928.

Retail sales appear improved in April - showed an increase over 1929. Combined march and April sales are only down 2% over 1929. Since the end of 1929, sales of American cars have exceeded production.

Daily electric production in April was up 1% over March, reversing the usual seasonal decline; indicates improvement in business conditions.

Commodity price index hits a new low. Average of 87.8, 2.8 below April and 3 below March. Declining commodities include tin and refined sugar.

U.S. Steel cuts ingot production to 75% of capacity from 79.5% last week and 100% last year, independents at 67.5% vs. 69% and 92% resp. Unfilled orders are also down.

Southern Railway April net income $1.0M vs. $2.1M in April 1929, four-month net income $1.8M, vs. $5.4M in 1929.

Gillette earnings running far ahead of last year. “If one could guess what the decision will be in the Gillette patent suit, he might make a lot of money in the stock.”

Columbia Pictures earnings for year ended 6/30 estimated up 125% from 1929.

Biscuit stocks are rising, which is as it should be.”

Otherwise timely joke cleaned up for racism:

A small-town man through painful thrift saved $500 in a checking account of his local bank. Moving to Richmond, he wrote a check to to cover expenses which came back promptly marked 'No funds.' He called for an explanation and received the answer: 'Oh, that doesn't mean you don't have the funds – it means we don't.'

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