September 12, 2009

Saturday, September 13, 1930: Dow 241.17 -1.71 (0.7%)

Assorted historical stuff:

Editorial: Many large US companies are now developing foreign markets by establishing foreign branches, including GM, Ford, GE, and American Can. This month's Atlantic magazine has an analysis of this trend; companies typically set up foreign plants to reduce transport costs, take advantage of cheaper labor, and get goodwill for reducing local unemployment. Germany now has 64 manufacturing or assembly subsidiaries of US companies, and England 73. This trend may affect foreign trade in interesting ways; visible US exports would be replaced by “invisible balance” of profits, royalties, etc. Tariff wall that we have gone to so much trouble to raise may prove anachronistic.

Prisons are finding radio helpful as a diversion for inmates. Radios have been installed at Ohio and Iowa State Penitentiaries.

Per capita ice cream consumption was 2.9 gallons/year in 1928, with over 4,000 factories operating in US. Industry began around time of American Revolution, with first newspaper ad offering ice cream for sale appearing in New York Gazette, May 19, 1777.

South African ostrich farmers have raised over 100,000 birds this year, hoping for a return to the pre-World War plume wearing fashion.

W. Groat, Assistant Atty. Gen., brings suit to dissolve Manhattan & Bronx Smoked Fish Dealers Association due to alleged food racketeering.

Market commentary:

Lower volume continued Thursday until late afternoon. Bears made determined attempt early to continue previous day's decline, without success; moderate rallies came in by noon but weren't followed up. Traders may have been disappointed by failure of market to repeat Friday rally of past several weeks; there was a late pickup in volume on the downside, and market was unsettled at the close; leaders including US Steel declined. Coppers weak on bearish Aug. statistics. Bond market dull with investment-grade steady and speculative issues irregular. Foreign govts. firm with South American holding gains; US govts. strong.

Current consensus is that “there will be a good advance shortly followed by a set-back before the end of the year”, when disappointing Q3 reports appear. However, when “predictions ... are so nearly unanimous,” market action may be contrary to the general opinion.

IT&T says July was low point for their business, has been improving since; expect better showing for rest of year.

Bradstreet's and Dun's weekly reviews report moderate upturn in business, increases in wholesale and retail distribution, though volume still below 1929.

Continued commodity price declines are disturbing; many professionals are involved in both commodities and stock markets, leading to “sympathetic liquidation.”

Commerce Sec. Lamont urges increased public and private construction of needed projects as one of best means for restoring more active business.

Car production for 1930 now seems likely to be about 3.75M, well short of the expected 4M. This will mean lower earnings for auto companies and for the industries supplying them. On the bright side, this should cause large deferred demand when economic conditions return to normal; there is “little question but that the automobile market normally will absorb upwards of 4.5M units a year.” In the meantime, the industry continues to operate profitably as a whole, and is increasing efficiency and cutting costs, which should further improve profitability when normal conditions do return.

Economic news and individual company reports:

Seasonal demands for credit and currency have so far been mild. Money in circulation was down $47M last week and only up $17M since Labor Day vs. $43M in 1929; “all other” (commercial) loans were up $4M to $2.409B, around the same level it's been since mid-June. This light demand together with Fed policy are likely to keep rates low indefinitely; anticipated seasonal rise in rates is likely to be nominal if it happens at all.

Offering of $334.2M in 2 3/8% one-year Treasury certificates is oversubscribed by almost 4:1.

Production of electricity in week ended Sept. 6 was 1.624 GWHr, down 2.5% from 1929, but up 9% from 1928 and lowest percentage decline in past month.

Some retailers reportedly caught unawares by improved public demand since Labor Day; more retail buyers are now in New York than at this time in Sept. for many years, after number sent in Aug. was fewer than usual. Some reports of difficulty finding goods.

H. Smith, Pres. Natl. Council of Amer. Shipbuilders, says US shipbuilding has doubled in past year; 275,000 tons of high-grade ships now under construction.

Company reports since July 1: 208 companies reported higher earnings vs. 1929 and 469 lower; 1018 dividends unchanged, 48 increased, 83 cut.


“Friend - Do you think the great outstanding poem of the century has yet been written?
Poet - It has not only been written, but it has been rejected.”

+ The Boring Stuff:

Editorial: Chief Justice Taft, since 1921, has greatly improved Supreme Court efficiency by “bringing modernistic efficiency to bear on an apparently bottomless cistern of legalistic conundrums.” In 1923, Court was hearing 854 cases yearly and was 558 cases in arrears; Taft induced Congress to pass laws giving the Court more discretion on what cases to hear, and changed rules on deciding minor issues. By Oct. 1929, number of pending cases had been reduced to 143. New Chief Justice Hughes expected to accelerate the pace.

Agriculture Sec. Hyde calls for collective action to solve cotton growers' problems, including high costs, overproduction, and wrong mix of cotton types.

Oil industry and Wall Street relieved by court decision upholding curtailment in Oklahoma; decision the other way would have made oil outlook “extremely dubious.” Oil stocks have so far not responded dramatically.

Professional traders seen still in control of market movements; moderate amount of outside trading is not enough to influence the market. This has been disappointing to bulls hoping that public interest might increase to the point where it took control of market direction. However, $33M increase in brokers' loans last week may indicate some increased public interest; this typically develops after a depression only when tangible evidence of business improvement comes.

American Bankers' Assoc. Journal reports slight improvement last month in trade and industry.

R. Proctor, Pres. New England Council, says “general opinion is we have passed the low point of the depression.” Rate of decline in commodity prices has slowed; production is under consumption; industrial activity “is now moving with normal trend, rather than against it.”

Senator P. Norbeck and Cincinnati banker F. Schwenck return from European trip, report conditions much worse than US, especially in Britain. Mr. Schwenck reports high unemployment in Britain and Germany; didn't hear much talk about increased tariffs except on cars to protect local industries.

Conservative observers remain cautious; recommend against buying, suggest taking profits on upturns.

Investment-grade corp. bonds have reacted slightly in past few days, possibly due to increased offerings in the past two weeks.

Commodities down. Wheat futures hit new season low at 80 3/4 cents, lowest since 1914; corn down sharply, other grains also down. Cotton down. Copper was offered at 10 3/4 cents with no takers.

New securities (stocks and bonds) listed on NYSE in Aug. were $357.9M vs. $1.113B in July and $1.618B in Aug. 1929. First 8 months were $6.902B vs. $10.619B. However, new bond offerings in week ended Sept. 10 were $134.3M vs $67.2M previous week and $131.7M in 1929.

Stocks of refined copper Sept. 1 were 347,688 tons vs. 322,039 on Aug. 1 and 104,372 in 1929; Aug. production was 120,788 vs. 123,179 and 148,648.

Retail price of gasoline cut 2 to 3 cents/gallon in some Midwest cities; attributed to price wars among independent companies.

Exports of tires in first half by 8 countries were 4.459M, down 12% from 1929; US exports were down 14%.

Canadian production of newsprint in Aug. was 202,043 tons vs. 216,978 in July and 225,873 in 1929; US production was 101,601 vs. 102,840 and 120,868.

Production of Portland cement in Aug. was 17.821M barrels vs. 17.078M in July and 18.585M in 1929.

A&P sales for Aug. were $78.4M, up 4.2% from 1929, and improved from July; Sears-Roebuck sales Aug. 14-Sept. 10 were $28.0M, down 14.1% vs. 1929.

Chicago & North Western Railway expects net about $4 for 1930, below $5 dividend, but sees better second half due to cost savings and higher revenue.

American Cyanamid stops dividend payments; following expansion last year, mining and fertilizer divisions now suffering due to depression.

Autostrop Razor stock price 72, yield 4.2%; net for 1930 about $7.50/share, up almost 100% vs. 1929; suing Gillette for patent infringement, rumors of merger.

Companies reporting decent earnings: Scott Paper.

September 11, 2009

Friday, September 12, 1930: Dow 242.88. -2.21 (0.9%)

Assorted historical stuff:

Editorial: M. Campbell, former NY Prohibition Administrator has accused high US officials of links to the liquor business; Assistant Treasury Sec. Lowman has replied by “saying, in substance, that Campbell was at one time a veterinarian in the army and that the mules died.” This frivolous defense by insulting the accuser is inadequate; he makes clear and detailed charges, easily verified or disproven. While the accused are entitled to presumption of innocence, the people are “entitled to a positive denial ... supported by facts. ... Prohibition is on trial now as never before in its history, and the Great American Jury” will demand a satisfactory defense.

Spain announces new currency stabilization plan; market is little affected. One authority dismisses plan as “another one of those things.”

Group of executives headed by advertising man Frank Kiernan sends 15,000 blue buttons with slogan “Business is Good” to officers of all important corporations.

Police tabulations show ... more apostles, founders of faiths, prophets ... and visionaries” in Paris than any other city. Devil worshipers have two temples to choose from. A new sect is being formed to fight all religion, “and to this end have invented a new one all their own”; temple being erected on Champs Elysees.

International yacht races are approaching; fans will be kept updated by wireless and telephone. This is more modern but not as much fun as the method used on Wall Street in 1887; Dow Jones & Co. stretched two ropes across Broad St. with replicas of the rival yachts attached, and moved them to reflect updates received by telegraph. Crowds packed Broad Street to follow the race.

Mary Ranney wins speed typing contest in Iowa, typing 42 words/minute in spite of only having one hand.

Van Sicklen Corp. to produce new “automobile radio,” the Van Sicklen Motoradio.

Market commentary:

Stocks underwent technical correction attributed to “feeling in responsible quarters” that market needed time to digest the upswing from August lows. Considerable profit-taking in recently strong stocks including Woolworth, US Steel, American Can, GM. However, bulls were encouraged by market action on the setback; volume dried up and buying appeared on any further declines. Market settled into narrow range for rest of day. Bond market turned dull as day progressed, with prices irregular but mostly firm; convertibles weak; foreign govts. firm, gains in South American.

Recent encouraging factors for bulls include increases in freight loadings and steel production, and drop in NYSE loans against stock to 5.31% of market value. On the technical side, market has broken above July/Aug. resistance level at 241; volume and breadth of rally has gradually increased; public and foreign buying has also been increasing; market has consistently turned very dull on breaks; and some prominent speculators have turned bullish.

B. Anderson, Chase Natl. Bank economist, says Fed policy of easy money will not be sustainable when business revives; suggests moderate tightening now to avoid shock of a sudden severe tightening later.

Labor Sec. J. Davis says business on the upswing, economy showing “unquestionable signs of life.” Urges business to stop unfair competition that is “ruining business of the country by forcing men to sell under cost of production.”

Many political and business leaders said to agree an advancing stock market might help business by improving confidence and forward buying.

Brokers, businessmen, and even the general public more optimistic; over 75% of brokerage houses now advise buying stocks.

Economic news and individual company reports:

Fed. Reserve member banks report brokers' loans rose $33M to $3.143B in week ended Sept. 10; total on Sept. 11, 1929 was $6.474B.

Florida Bondholder's Adjustment Committee calls on owners of defaulted local bonds to accept arbitration with principle that local govt. should “pay to the full extent of its ability to pay” when fairly determined, and no more. Says full payment in many cases impossible due to string of problems in past few years including collapse of real estate boom, bank failures, storms, and Med. fly scare; local feeling is that many bonds were voted in due to high-pressure tactics by outsiders.

Companies reporting decent earnings: Kelvinator (refrigerators), American Safety Razor, Warren Foundry & Pipe.

J. Michelin, VP Michelin Tire, announces closing of plant at Milltown, NJ; bitterly condemns present policy in tire industry to increase volume at all costs, even to the point where both manufacturer and retailer can't make profits.


Three Faces East, a fast-moving spy film; Erich von Stroheim as Valdar, German agent; William Holden as Sir Winston Chamberlain, First Lord of the Admiralty.


“'Why is it,' asked teacher, 'that lightning never strikes twice in the same place?' 'Because,' answered Herbert, 'after it hits once the same place ain't there anymore.'”

+ The Boring Stuff:

Editorial: Attempts to use taxation to “ameliorate social conditions” have lead to some bizarre situations in the past, including proposal by a former Senator for a high income tax bracket of 105%, as well as some estate tax situations where an heir left an inheritance by someone from another state could wind up owing more than 100% in taxes. These last cases have mostly been fixed, though there is the sad case of a New York investor who died in 1929 leaving an estate later wiped out in the crash; the state is demanding a tax on the value as of the date of death, as per the law there.

Postmaster General D. Brown recommends 1/2 cent/ounce increase in first class mail rates to close Post Office deficit ($85M in 1929).

Illinois Mfr. Assoc. survey of state industrial situation reports slow but steady improvement; activity in Q3 expected to be about equal to Q2, but almost all industries expect Q4 activity to be appreciably higher.

C. Bardo, Pres. American Shipbuilding Co., announces expansion program, says US recovering from depression, but former prosperity will not be restored until people realize that a lack of ships to carry products abroad is resulting in losses of millions of dollars a year.

Otis & Co. say US Steel decline in unfilled orders not necessarily a bad sign; in second half of 1921 recovery coincided with series of declining steel orders.

Conservative observers continue cautious; fear market vulnerable to sharp bear attack; advise waiting for setbacks before buying standard stocks.

Investment trust (similar to mutual funds) practices said to be more conservative this year following “shock administered” last fall; buying stocks on basis of fundamentals; also have generally put buy/sell decisions in individual hands after problems making decisions by committee in panic last fall.

Commodities down. Grains weak; wheat and corn down sharply on higher than expected crop estimates, though govt. estimate of corn crop at 1.983B bushels would be smallest since 1901. Cotton down. Copper buying up slightly, price remains at 10 3/4 - 11 cents.

Money in circulation Sept. 10 was $4.465B, down $47M from Sept. 3.

Oklahoma Supreme Court acts to uphold oil curtailment law after lawsuit; seen as important case for oil industry.

Farm Board is expected to ask for additional funds when Congress meets next winter; most of the $250M appropriated to it has been spent.

Dow average of iron and steel products unchanged from last week at $45.52/ton, low for the year. Low for 1929 was $49.88 and average $50.61. Scrap steel market continues firmer, with some recent prices between $15.75-$16.25/ton. Higher recent demand for pig iron.

Gasoline in Chicago wholesale market was 6 1/8 - 6 3/8, up from 6 - 6 1/4. Further price increase is expected; refineries last week operated at 67% vs. 69.2% previous week and 84% in 1929, and gasoline in storage has been reduced by 5.527M barrels since Aug. 1.

Volume of soft (bituminous) coal production has held up remarkably well; this has benefitted rails that transport it including Chesapeake & Ohio.

British imports in Aug. were 79.9M pounds vs. 85.2M in July and 101.0M in Aug. 1929; Exports were 42.8M vs. 50.7M and 63.0M.

Mexican oil production in July was 98,256 barrels/day; exports were 89,094.

IT&T first half net $1.04/share vs. $1.56 in 1929; continues $0.50 quarterly dividend.

Gillette up sharply on renewed merger rumors with Autostrop; Vanadium up on rumors of renewed operations by “the same interests that sponsored its rise from the year's low of 49 7/8 to above 100 in the early summer.”

Kelvinator to introduce new low-priced refrigerator unit at $159.50; will have interchangeable mechanism for servicing.

American Safety Razor to introduce new gold-plated Gem Micromatic, selling for $1 including 5 blades.

September 10, 2009

Thursday, September 11, 1930: Dow 245.09 +0.80 (0.3%)

Assorted historical stuff:

Franklin Trust of Philadelphia takes a stand in favor of spending: “Every dollar you spend today stimulates employment, encourages industry - and buys more than at any time since 1913. Now is the time to spend wisely as well as save regularly.

Henry Ford denies making prediction that normal business will resume in October; says only way to resume good times is by higher-quality production at lower cost; this will create demand, and companies following this principle need not be concerned if times are good or bad. This certainly can't be accomplished in a month, and maybe not in years.

Editorial: Difficulty the cotton industry is currently in is due less to decreased consumption than to increasing use of foreign cotton. This can't be solved by cooperative marketing or holding surpluses but by taking on foreign competition and “producing a better quality at a less price than our competitors.”

Canadian Premier Bennett addresses Parliament; to propose raising tariffs up to 10% on 25 articles (mainly textiles), ask $20M for unemployment relief.

AFL to consider motion to modify Prohibition, legalizing 2.75% beer.

Powerful X-ray machine installed by Babcock & Wilcox Co. to examine pressure vessels and other equipment.

Market commentary:

Stocks showed broad strength again. US Steel rallied in spite of August decline in unfilled orders; decline was interpreted as result of increased operations; bears forced to urgently cover. Strength spread to stocks under recent pressure including Sears, Montgomery-Ward, and Anaconda. Retail and utilities strong; “bullish demonstrations” in trading favorites including Radio, United Aircraft. Some profit taking in late afternoon was absorbed without much disruption. Bond market quieter but prices generally firm; convertibles and South American govts. higher.

Market considered stronger technically from recent period of consolidation, move upward on higher volume; declines of June and early August are seen as having shaken out weak hands, as indicated by shrinkage in brokers' loans. Recent economic news has also been encouraging, including steel production, retail and mail order sales. Roger Babson's switch to bullish stance has also attracted attention. All indications point to good sized gains in stocks in the near future, though third-quarter earnings reports in a few weeks may change the trend.

Recent trading has been concentrated in a few issues; 42% of the 8.2M shares traded last week was in 16 stocks including Radio, US Steel, Warner Bros.

Banker J. Speyer returns from European trip, says depression is worldwide and no improvement is anticipated for the next year by bankers he visited.

D. Sarnoff, Pres. Radio Corp. of America, returns from two-month trip abroad; says after difficult first half company business is “on the upward trend”; says economic conditions in France surprisingly good but England and Germany suffering; “No matter how bad off we may think we are here ... Europe's economic and financial condition is much worse, and their improvement appears to be dependent upon our own recovery.”

Canadian Bank of Commerce sees signs of recent improvement but says they must be tested for some time to verify whether they are lasting. Canadian business doing relatively well compared to other countries; “volume of Canadian manufactures” in first half about 16% below 1929 level but only 5% below 1928.

Economic news and individual company reports:

US July electricity output was 7,870 GWHr vs. 8,114 GWHr in 1929, 3% decline was largest this year. Decline worsened by industrial shutdowns. However, revenues were up about 1%. About 36% of power was hydroelectric.

US Steel unfilled orders Aug. 31 were 3.580M tons vs. 4.022M on July 31 and 3.658M on Aug. 31, 1929; smallest total since July 31, 1928.

Farm labor situation is badly affected by lower farm income and industrial unemployment: demand for farm labor is 71.8% of normal, down 2.5% from Aug. 1 and 14.6% from 1929; supply of farm labor is 147.1% of normal, up 3.7% from Aug. 1 and 41.1% from 1929.

August sales for 530 department stores were down 8% from 1929 level; first 8 months sales were down 6%.

Movie officials estimate Hollywood studios will spend over $250M on next year's productions.

Companies reporting decent earnings: American Water Works & Elec., Texas Pacific Land Trust, Lily Tulip Cup, Claude Neon Lights, Sears Point Toll Road.

Stock market joke:

An out-of-work broker asked a friend who owned a circus for work. His friend said the circus gorilla had recently died, and if the broker wanted to get into the gorilla's skin, swing around, growl, and amuse the children, he could have the job. Things went well until one day the rope the “gorilla” was swinging on snapped and catapulted him into the lions cage. The lion let out a roar, which the “gorilla” answered with a timid yelp. The lion roared louder, and the “gorilla” lost his nerve and started screaming for help. The lion came closer and whispered “Shut up, you damned fool, you're not the only broker out of a job.”

+ The Boring Stuff:

Editorial: More bridges are needed in New York state to cross 150-mile course of Hudson river. Some time ago, most horse-drawn travel used toll roads and bridges. This became a nuisance, and roads eventually were made free. With arrival of cars, bridges became more desirable to avoid long detours for ferries; tolls again became acceptable. Building of bridges has become major industry. Successful approach has been to use authorities that can build bridges and charge tolls, making construction self-supporting and without use of taxes; ultimately structures are to revert to the state and become free.

Three directors of BMT named to IRT board, including G. Dahl; thought to improve position of BMT in unification talks with New York city transit system.

E. Seubert, Pres. Standard Oil of Indiana, returns from six-week European trip, says depression slightly worse there. France, Hungary doing relatively well; England, Germany, Austria doing poorly. Predicts US will recover before Europe due to greater resources; sees signs of gradual improvement currently and expects better conditions by next spring; recovery may be speedy when it arrives.

Conservative observers increasingly cautious, advise remaining on sidelines and taking profits in rallies, and waiting for setbacks to buy.

Brokers report a moderate increase in public participation in trading. Short interest is reported still large but decreasing on recent covering.

Commodities generally firm. Cotton up strongly. Grains mostly up slightly on professional trading. Copper unchanged at 10 3/4-11 cents, buying very light. Cocoa touched new record low below 6 cents/pound, closed down.

NYSE members loans against stock Sept. 2 were 5.31% of total market value of $67.7B vs. 5.49% of $67.2B Aug. 1 and 8.79% in 1929.

Money in circulation Aug. 31 was $4.534B vs. $4.426B July 31 and $4.840B in 1929; per capita circulation was $36.72 vs. $35.90 and $40.32.

Steel industry outlook is unclear; Iron Age reports seasonal recovery is expected but slow in materializing; demand is slightly higher this month but “nothing like a broad buying movement has set in”; real test of recovery still to come. Prospects should be clearer by Oct. 1; general view is that volume will recover from current levels but be smaller than previous years.

Steel ingot production industry-wide in week ended Monday was at 56% due to holiday curtailment, vs. 57.5% previous week and 86% in 1929; US Steel was at 63% vs. 65% previous week and 91% in 1929. Some improvement is expected this week following the Labor Day holiday.

Iron Age reports “encouraging signs” in machine tool markets, but “mostly in the form of inquiries rather than orders.” Sept. sales expected slightly up from Aug.

Gasoline in storage at refineries on Sept. 6 was 38.573M barrels, down 242,000 from Aug. 30 and lowest since Dec. 7, 1929.

Agriculture Dept. crop estimates as of Sept. 1: corn 1.983B bushels, down sharply from Aug. 1 estimate of 2.212B but slightly above recent private estimates; avg. estimate for all crops down 2.5% due to continuation of record-breaking drought, extension of drought damage to previously unaffected states.

Farm Board says it won't support US-Cuban plan to curtail sugar since US doesn't have domestic surplus; also believe some excess wheat and cotton acreage might be switched to growing sugar.

Silver market stronger recently; may be benefitting from more stable situation in China. World production in first half was 108.9M ounces vs. 102.1M in 1929; increase was entirely in Mexican production.

Southern Railway reports some success in cutting costs to adjust to lower revenue: July revenue was down 17.7% from 1929 but operating income was down only 15.6% from 1929 vs. a 46.8% decline in the first half. Company has cut costs in most departments.

Lily Tulip Cup stock about 26, earned $2.34 in first half, yield about 6%.

Hershey reports earnings slightly lower in July and Aug. vs. 1929 due to heat wave (small retailers refused to stock up because of loss to meltage). However, co. is benefitting from lower raw material costs and Sept. sales have recovered; net for third quarter may approach 1929 level.

September 9, 2009

Wednesday, September 10, 1930: Dow 244.29 +1.45 (0.6%)

Assorted historical stuff:

Editorial: We should consider raising Congressional salary from $10,000 to $50,000 - not so much to improve Congress as to make them willing in turn to give adequate salaries to important government executives. This would enable us to keep good people such as former Fed. Reserve Gov. Young. Of course, “practically all congressmen” would then be getting more than they're worth, but this is true now so “the objection is one of degree and not of fundamental principle.”

White house receives report from State Dept. on tightening immigration law, points out all countries are tightening restrictions to deal with unemployment.

Effects of drought have been relieved by extensive US rail system; less severe droughts in parts of the world without adequate rail transport have caused “famine and pestilence, and the starvation of hundreds of thousands of people.” Agriculture Dept. declares 1,012 counties in 20 states eligible for discounted freight rates for drought relief.

Germany requires gasoline to be blended with 2.5% alcohol to benefit potato farmers.

Nine-man counterfeiting ring arrested in Newark, charged with producing over 100,000 fake 5-cent city bus tokens.

Market commentary:

Bulls encouraged by good business news continuing to trickle in yesterday, including Aug. rise in steel production and $30M rise in commercial loans in latest week. Several bear attacks failed, and stocks strengthened in late afternoon. Retail shares rallied impressively on news of recent sales improvement, including Woolworth, Macy, Best & Co., Associated Dry Goods, Abraham & Straus. Banks, utilities strong. Oils weak on lawsuit against curtailment. Bond market firm, particularly convertibles and preferreds. South American bonds higher. US govt. dull, unchanged.

Roger W. Babson (economist, made perfectly timed bearish call in fall 1929) optimistic on immediate future, sees possible “stampede of orders” due to underproduction; says it's as evident now that business is bound to improve as it was clear a year ago that it must deteriorate.

Chicago Assoc. of Commerce produces symposium on business outlook; leading Chicago executives believe fall will bring improvement but are guarded as to whether fully normal conditions will return before next spring.

Southeast Shippers' Advisory Bd. says worst of present crisis over, confidently expect improved business conditions in fall.

One prominent steel manufacturer foresees production averaging at least 75% of capacity before end of year.

Oct. considered critical month for market; earnings reports expected to be poor, but market reaction may depend more on business trend looking forward.

R. Whitney, NYSE Pres., blames depression on overproduction caused by artificial price-fixing efforts (made production artificially profitable). Says market crash didn't cause depression but followed decline in business by a few months; blames lag on lack of accurate economic statistics. Criticizes proposed Stock Exchange regulation as making “prices on the Exchange a false reflection of the state of business”; denies stock market speculation harmfully diverted funds from other uses.

Economic news and individual company reports:

Retail sales at stores of 7 types in 24 cities were $560.7M, down 6.7% from 1929. Store types included furniture, electrical appliances, women's specialty, etc.

US class 1 rails net for first 7 months was $458.9M, a return of 3.3% on property investment, vs. $686.4M, or 5.5% return in 1929. Revenues were $3.149M, down 13.2% from 1929.

Railway passenger traffic has declined continuously since 1920 in spite of large expenditures on better service.

Rail freight loadings for week ended Aug. 30 were 984,504 cars, down 15.2% from 1929 and 11.8% from 1928, but up 43,955 from previous week.

Report of 29 major US airlines for first half: 315 planes in service, 133,005 passengers carried, 3.125M lbs. mail delivered, 10.725M miles flown. Miles have increased steadily every month this year; total for June was 2.231M miles.

Companies reporting decent earnings: Pacific Telephone, Mesta Machine (steel mill equipment), Bon Ami (household cleaner), Best & Co. (retailer).

Company reports since July 1: 192 companies reported higher earnings vs. 1929 and 457 lower; 955 dividends unchanged, 43 increased, 75 cut.

Coca Cola is one of the few stocks that sold at a record high this year; 1929 high was 178 5/8, high this year was 191 3/8.

Ode to the new high-speed stock ticker:

“A clever contraption within its black box -
Its figures flash out swift and sure on all stocks;
No matter how hectic the trading may get,
what millions it mounts to, its pace shall be met.
Ah, had we but had it last fall 'neath glass bell -
Twelve million, sixteen - whole world wanting to sell -
those agonized hours when the truth none could know -
the old ticker smothered because 'twas too slow.
This dainty swift prodigy, blithely abreast
of any big market, such fears sets at rest.
And yet this great boon - human nature is such -
at moment of getting it doesn't seem much.
Like Flora McFlimsy of Washington Square,
(that worthy young lady with nothing to wear)
this nifty speed marvel that's just come on view,
has cause for complaint - it has nothing to do.”

+ The Boring Stuff:

Editorial: Argentina situation is of interest to US since it has about $800M invested there. US should consider recognizing new Argentina govt. if stable, backed by the people, and willing to fulfill international obligations. Wilson policy of not recognizing govts. coming to power by revolution had good intentions, but may not be practical in this case.

G. Wheat, VP United Aircraft, speaks at opening of Newark Metropolitan Airport as eastern air mail terminal, predicts 24-hour air passenger and mail service across US; current mail transport time is 30 hours.

This year is 2,000'th anniversary of birth of Roman poet Virgil, known to every student of Latin.

European steel cartel controlling about 29% of world production under severe strain, but likely to be continued in some form due to “danger of complete demoralization of the steel market following an abandonment.”

British registered unemployed on Sept. 1 were 2.060M vs. 2.040M on Aug. 25 and 1.152M on Sept. 2, 1929.

Mexican census reports number of unemployed was 89,960, or 0.546% of the total population.

Administration officials question Sen. Barkley's contention that Smoot-Hawley tariff will lead to agitation for reduction of European war debts.

T. McMahon, Pres. United Textile Workers, says only solution to textile unemployment is shorter workweek and abolition of night work for women and children.

Wall Street sentiment seen less pessimistic; “state of mind of the average trader is calmer,” and general feeling is a definite turning point for the better has been reached. However, most don't expect “a rapid recovery in either business or stocks.”

A number of industries have been preparing to expand activities in Oct. and Nov. This should reduce unemployment and eventually stimulate trade.

Some conservative observers still staying out of the market until it's clear if business increase in only seasonal; waiting until “advices from industry are more uniform and favorable.” Leading C.O.'s advise against buying stocks indiscriminately, recommend taking profits on good rallies.

Bond houses generally anticipate strong fall bond market, expect lower-grade bonds to participate.

Commodities mixed. Cotton up slightly. Corn up, other grains down. Copper demand remains very light, price unchanged.

Average rate of interest on national debt in fiscal year ended June 30 was 3.80% vs. 3.94% previous year.

Indiana Limestone Co. estimates new US construction for first two-thirds of year was $3.7B; business now marking time but “It is generally conceded that demand is overtaking supply” and they expect “a much more active building program” in the fall.

Crude oil production for week ended Sept. 6 was 2.438M barrels/day, down 35,440 from previous week and down from 2.952M in 1929; refineries operated at 67% of capacity vs. 69.2% and 84%.

Steel sheet producers in Chicago increase prices $1-$2/ton.

Wheat exports in July and Aug. were 36.235M bushels vs. 31.116M in 1929.

World cotton consumption in 1929-30 season was 24.579M bales vs. 25.767M previous year.

Lumber production at 862 mills for week ended Aug. 30 was 275.8M feet vs. 291.3M previous week, and down 35% from 1929.

Tractor exports hit record high of $40.5M in first half vs. $33.0M in 1929, helped by Russian demand.

Utility earnings will break string of strong growth years, but are still expected to be slightly higher than 1929. However, future problems are seen in trend of lower revenue per invested dollar and attitude of public to utility industry.

Canadian rail revenues in first half were $218.2M vs. $257.0M in 1929; net was $25.2M vs. $41.2M.

AT&T stock selling at about 17 times earnings, yield 4.17%.

September 8, 2009

Tuesday, September 9, 1930: Dow 242.84 -0.80 (0.3%)

Assorted historical stuff:

Canadian railway board reports on 1,791 rail crossing accidents caused by “inexplicable negligence.” Of these, 77 drivers drove under crossing gates while they were being lowered; one left his car and raised the gates after they had been lowered; 69 drove into the side of moving trains; 43 drove into trains that were standing still; 8 used the railway tracks as a highway; one stopped on the tracks and fell asleep; one stopped his wagon in path of approaching train to adjust load.

Argentina under military junta; Gen. Iriburu announces order reestablished, legal govt. to be set up as soon as possible, international obligations to be honored.

South American bond experts approve of new group in power in Argentina; believe “corruption, waste, and incompetence in government affairs should vanish promptly if,” as result of upcoming election, a member of the Uriburu group is placed in power.

AFL Pres. W. Green decries conditions in beet fields of Colorado, Nebraska; children 6 to 15 years old work 9-16 hours/day for yearly wage of $98.90-$197.80. Also criticizes plans for compulsory unemployment insurance as “dole” system, favors voluntary industry funds, shorter work day instead of layoffs.

Pres. Hoover urged to simplify procedure for farmers in drought areas to get 50% discount on shipping feed; getting permits required takes too much time.

Police in Peking form “elopement squad” to watch rail stations for young couples running away to be married, following series of elopments involving prominent families. Chinese young couples reported increasingly rebellious against practice of marriages arranged by parents.

M. McCavran, Pres. American Assoc. of Cosmeticians and Hair Artists, estimates there are about 40M women in US; total annual usage of make-ups and creams is 316M pounds, or about 7.9 pounds/woman annually, or about 348 pounds/woman between ages of 16 and 60.

Market commentary:

Many buy orders accumulated over weekend; rally went ahead vigorously Monday morning, with some of the largest blocks in weeks appearing on the tape. Major industrials including GM, GE, US Steel, American Can, Allied Chemical, Westinghouse, hit new rally highs; rails and utilities also strong. Profit taking became active about noon, halting the rally; however, volume again dried up on the afternoon setback. This increased expectation of continued strength, and good buying returned in final hour. Bond market quieter; rail and utility bonds strong, Dow bond avg. unchanged; Argentina bonds weak; US govts. inactive.

Dow considered to have given “highly bullish signal” by closing Saturday above the 241 resistance level where selling was repeatedly encountered in summer. This “reflected powerful buying based on growing optimism regarding autumn trade prospects.” Major investors reported to have participated in buying after being “persistently bearish since the early part of the year” and making “huge profits on the short side.”

Some of “the shrewdest market traders” now see “definite turning point” in stocks. Conclusion isn't based on “chart theories such as double or triple tops” but on fundamentals. Believe long side will be the safe one from now on, and “standard stocks can be bought with assurance of profit. The corporations, the country, and the people are very rich, richer than after any previous panic, ... industry and the market are in a strong position to stage a comeback.”

Recent reports in trade reviews of slightly improved retail demand considered encouraging; thought to be leading indicator of business improvement.

Many unfavorable third-quarter earnings reports expected in Oct., but market reaction will depend more on the trend of business that month and looking ahead.

Economic news and individual company reports:

Fed. Reserve member banks on Sept. 3 report “all other” (commercial) loans up $30M over previous week.

American Iron & Steel Institute reports Aug. steel ingot production moderately up over July; total production 3.095M tons vs. 2.933M tons in July and 4.939M tons in Aug. 1929; operations at 59.46% of capacity vs. 56.35% and 93.28%.

US Steel unfilled orders expected to show large decline in Aug. from July 31 figure of 4.022M tons; figures to be released noon tomorrow.

Company reports since July 1: 191 companies reported higher earnings vs. 1929 and 455 lower; 933 dividends unchanged, 43 increased, 73 cut.

Starrett Corp. (construction) says earnings expected to improve in rest of year; Empire State Building now up to 60'th floor; also working on several other large projects; lower building costs are leading to more inquiry and expected to create more construction activity.

Curtis Publishing announces will accept cigarette ads for Saturday Evening Post starting Oct.


“Minister ... - Remember that stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage.
Prisoner - Well, they've got me hypnotized, then, that's all.”

+ The Boring Stuff:

Editorial: Events in Argentina are of economic interest since it's a heavy borrower in US and has lots of foreign investment including about $2B from Britain. “Revolution” doesn't appear to be civil war but a popular uprising against “a dictatorship, and an unsuccessful one at that.” Situation hopeful; thus far most people seem united behind new regime, “thus minimizing the danger of fighting among themselves and destroying property”; new govt. should honor obligations if it “wishes to maintain its credit and remain one of the family of nations.”

Senator A. Barkley reports a high British official predicts US trade with Europe will be reduced $1B annually when Europeans adjust tariffs, says will lead to higher unemployment, agitation for cancellation of European war debts, doubts Britain will be able to continue war debt payments.

Mexican Chamber of Deputies considering debt settlement reached by Montes de Oca; approval expected.

S.W. Straus dies; originated modern first mortgage real estate bond, pioneer in development of US skyscrapers; founder of Am. Society for Thrift, active in charity.

Planning completed for railway across Sahara desert at cost of $120M; only approval of French Parliament now needed.

Agriculture Sec. Hyde calls for worldwide cooperation in controlling surpluses of agricultural commodities.

Special session of Canadian Parliament to consider means of relieving unemployment, tariff measures, public works.

Canadian Pacific Rwy. Pres. E. Beatty says will begin immediately any building program planned for next year or two to relieve unemployment, sees signs country is “turning the corner of depression.”

Sentiment not discouraged by afternoon setback; considered natural after recent advance. Most observers advise buying standard stocks on any reactions.

Short position is still believed large; trading still controlled by professionals, only small increase in public participation so far.

Eugene Meyer's appointment as Fed. Reserve Bd. Gov. has “hearty approval of Wall Street. Few individuals know Wall Street and what business needs better.” Some opposition from agricultural states. Appointment seen continuing or increasing Washington influence on Fed.

Lawrence Sterne & Co. monthly investment review says strong fall bond market “appears to be inevitable from numerous indications” including low number of new offerings, low trading volume, recent bond market strength, and increasing savings and commercial deposits.

Chicago & North Western Rwy. Pres. F. Sargent says expects “gradual pick up in general business from now on,” now experiencing seasonal gain in traffic.

Commodities weak. Cotton down sharply on larger than expected govt. crop estimate. Wheat rallied early but closed down in spite of bullish news; other grains also down. Copper remained at 10 3/4 - 11 cents, but with “somewhat better” demand.

Agriculture Dept. Sept. 1 estimate of cotton crop is 14.340M bales vs. 14.362M estimate Aug. 1.

Volume of bond trading on NYSE in Aug. was $172.5M vs. $193.8M in July and $259.8M in Aug. 1929; lowest level since Aug. 1923.

Total production of soft coal in week ended Aug. 30 was 9.056M tons vs. 10.832M tons in 1929; first 8 months was 301.0M vs. 340.3M.

Earnings of rails in Southwest have held up best so far in depression; first 7 months net declined 17.1% from 1929 vs. 33% for all rails.

Ford production of cars and trucks in Aug. was 99,142 vs. 133,035 in July and 205,634 in Aug. 1929.

Union Carbide and R.H. Macy have rallied on news of improving business and optimism on earnings for rest of year.

Armstrong Cork develops new cork turf for surfacing miniature golf courses; ingredients are “ground linoleum scrap, green mineral pigment, and a filler substance.”

PG & E selling about 57, annual div. $2, 1929 earnings $3.52/share.

NY Stock Exchange seat sells for $350,000, down $50,000 from last sale.

September 7, 2009

Monday, September 8, 1930: Dow 243.64 +3.27 (1.4%)

Assorted historical stuff:

Editorial: Last fall, Fed. Reserve failed to heed urgent warnings for months before the crash; New York Reserve bank and others were noting “orgy of speculation” and urging increase in rates, but Fed “followed schoolteacher tactics of issuing admonitions and warnings.” If new Fed appointments are more “aggressive and forceful,” a great deal will have been gained.

Editorial: Prohibition school opened on Monday to instruct enforcement agents was, on Tuesday, advising making use of children since they could loiter near suspect houses without attracting attention. Thursday the school head retracted this policy. Country should be grateful for small favors; maybe someday prohibition agents can also be “restrained from shooting on suspicion, and wearing camouflage instead of uniforms.”

Veterans of Foreign Wars adopt resolution demanding repeal of Prohibition.

Complaint made in French Parliament about wine retailing for 12 cents/quart when wholesale price is 6 cents; “as the average French family consumes about 2 barrels of wine a year, the difference is appreciable.”

Argentina Pres. resigns, capital under martial law; unofficial reports of revolution.

History of gaslight goes back 3 centuries; discovered by Dutch alchemist Van Helmont, made practical by Scotch inventor W. Murdock using coal gas.

Fad for “Tom Thumb” (miniature) golf leading to construction of larger projects, including 72-hole course in Hollywood.

Market commentary:

Bullish demonstrations spread across market, encouraged by some good business news. Majors including US Steel, GE, Radio, GM, Consolidated Gas advanced; bull pools operated on favorites including US Industrial Alcohol, Vanadium, Loews. Coppers higher on short-covering. Volume increased on price advance, strong tone maintained to the close. Bond market slightly irregular, Argentina weak.

Sentiment was favorable after closing rally Friday, though some were cautious because of low volume. Many believe a movement through the summer resistance level at 241 would indicate strong further advances.

Good business news has started to accumulate over the past week, including better wholesale and retail reports (ex. Woolworth), good steel news (increase in production and some indications of price improvement), increase in freight loadings for second week in a row (although still well under 1929 level), some increase in gasoline prices.

Market observers call bear attacks in past week “rather theatrical,” often delayed until final hour to affect sentiment at close.

Public participation in trading still seen small, but public also hasn't been liquidating in response to bear attacks; all in all, public “still is marking time.”

Henry Ford, sailing on ocean liner Bremen, predicts early end to depression. Says might last past Oct., but no wage cuts needed for return to normal conditions.

A well-known automotive authority sees slow 1930 final quarter, but believes 1931 will be strong year due to production cuts in 1930. Production in first 8 months was 2.843M cars, not a large number considering over 27M cars are in use in the US.

Economic news and individual company reports:

Average yield on 20 representative long-term city and state bonds was 3.97% vs. 4.03% on Aug. 8.

S.S. Sandberg, US Shipping Board commissioner, says shipbuilding in US is most active in history excluding wartime; 40 ships totalling 425,000 gross tons are under construction. Jones-White law (Merchant Marine Act of 1928) has helped stimulate shipbuilding.

August plans filed for new construction in Manhattan were $11.5M vs. $33.5M in July and $22.6M in Aug. 1929; first 8 months were $125.2M vs. $472.1M.

Institute of Scrap Iron & Steel survey says all factors in industry indicate rise for scrap prices.

Oil, Paint, & Drug Reporter says sales of chemicals have finally picked up after a period of price stability. Coaltar dyes particularly strong.

Companies reporting decent earnings: American Can (sales holding up well, fruit and vegetable pack better than expected following drought), American Ice, United Light & Power, Colgate-Palmolive-Peet, US Gypsum (price war ended), D. Gestetner (duplicating/office printing), Apponaug (dying, printing & finishing).

Legal joke:

“Lawyer (handing check for $100 to client who had been awarded $500) - There's the balance, after deducting my fee ... Aren't you satisfied?
Client - I was just wondering who got hit by the car, you or me.”

Movie review:

Dixiana - “latest representative of an indeterminate breed of talkies which include haphazard elements of operetta, musical comedy, revue, and straight melodrama.”

+ The Boring Stuff:

Spanish govt. to lift press censorship on Sept. 12 after 7 years; currency up.

Japanese Privy Council to censure govt. for violating constitution by adopting treaty limiting naval buildup opposed by Naval Council.

English Trades Union Congress demands 44 hour week, pensions starting at 60, and compensation for displaced workers.

J.S. Bache recommends buying carefully selected stocks held for long-term investment; selection must be made with safety of dividends in mind “so that income will be assured even during what may be a long, slow ... business recovery.”

Railway presidents generally optimistic on traffic in coming months; comparisons with 1929 will also be more favorable since slowdown began in July 1929.

Quick recovery from short setback in past week has converted many to the bull side. However, conservative observers still advise waiting for setbacks, and then buying only “standard issues on a scale” (gradually).

Commodities mixed. Cotton down moderately. Grains rallied sharply off initial declines and closed up on news of Buenos Aires suspending futures trading due to political unrest.

Total known security loans as of Aug. 30 were $9.634B, down $58M in month and down from peak of $13.205B on Sept. 3, 1929. However, Fed. Reserve member banks are now supplying $8.377B or 87% of the total vs. 61% a year ago. Total of bank security loans has also increased 43% since Jan. 31, 1927; in this period, total value of NYSE-listed stocks has increased from $38.602B to $67.221B; total of stocks and bonds from $75.951B to $116.321B.

August total of corporate financing (bonds, notes, and stock) was $235.2M vs. $431.6M in July and $831.6M in Aug. 1929; lowest in 2 years. Of the $235.2M total, $193.3M was for domestic corporations. In addition, there were $9.8M in foreign and local govt. loans offered vs. $52.1M in July and $15M in Aug. 1929.

Volume of grain futures trading this year at Chicago Bd. of Trade was down 13.7% vs. 1929.

Agriculture Dept. reports index of farm prices for month ended Aug. 15 was 108, down 3 points from previous month and 35 from 1929; lowest August level for index since 1915; grains, dairy, poultry up but other farm products down.

Agriculture Dept. reports world production of feed grains from reporting countries down in 1930 (corn down 15.3%, rye 2.3%, barley 7%, oats 4.6%). Wheat production seen slightly higher, demand greater due to substitution for feed grains; this should reduce stored surplus but larger crop is expected next season.

Argentina to cooperate with Canada and other grain producers in “campaign of orderly marketing.”

Wholesale gasoline in Chicago market 6 1/8 - 6 1/2 cents vs. 6 - 6 1/4 cents previously.

Youngstown district steel operations reported at 58% vs. 57% last week, first gain in several weeks.

Commerce Dept. report Aug. shipments of locomotives were 77 vs. 56 in July and 129 in Aug. 1929; year to date 552 vs. 517 in 1929.

Wool shorn in US in 1930 estimated at 328M lbs., up 6% from 1929.

Pierce-Arrow introduces new models priced from $3,795 (5-passenger sedan) to $6,250 (convertible town car).

Oakland-Pontiac reports dealer sales have improved progressively through Aug.; total sales for Aug. were 7,443 cars, up 7% over July.

J. Chick, Chevrolet asst. GM, sees pickup in low-priced car sales; comparison to last year is better than any time yet in 1930.

Gillette plunged 3 5/8 to 61 1/4, off from recent high of 88; no news to account for selling except rumor company may issue bond to finance buying own shares.

September 6, 2009

Favorites of the week Sept. 3-Sept. 6, 1930

No Journal was published Sunday, Sept. 7, 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.

Sept. 6:

[Note: Kind of sad #1.] Editorial: Lindbergh proved the northern Atlantic could be flown eastward, and Costes and Bellonte, landing in Dallas on Sept. 4, proved it could under certain conditions be done westward. “No commercial use can be made of that information” now, but this was true of many technologies when first invented such as the steam engine and telephone - as a result of their development “the idea, handed down from primitive times, that every stranger is an enemy, has to a large extent been broken down under the influence of quick transportation and communication.” In the near future, aviation too will be developed; success will be measured by progress “in standards of living, and in social relationships that foster peace and goodwill between nations.”

[Note: Kind of sad #2.] French Ministry of Public Works reports nearly all reconstruction of regions devastated by World War has been completed. Almost all trenches filled in; most of 8M or more acres of ravaged soil has been cleaned. “Nature has healed the scarred and desolate land of 1918 beyond the most hopeful expectations.”

[Note: Strangely familiar dept.] Bradstreet's review notes “unmistakable” business improvement from July and early Aug. dullness, back-to-school buying; Dun's review sees “acceleration of activity,” though commercial recovery still expected to be gradual.

[Note: Strangely unfamiliar dept.] Brazil suffering from political disturbances, falling currency, coffee crisis, and pessimism regarding ability to get through depression without damage to credit.

[Note: Strangely familiar dept.] Bank merger rumors recently revived; possible resumption of vigorous 1929 competition to become largest financial institution.

Sept. 5:

[Note: Politics was more fun then dept.] Editorial: A Senate committee has been investigating campaign expenses of Mrs. Ruth McCormick, a Senatorial candidate. Mrs. McCormick retaliated by herself investigating one of the Senators, hiring a detective agency for that purpose. The Senator described McCormick's investigation as “shoddy, scabby, unprincipled, unconscionable, contemptible”; this may indicate he has lost “the fine judicial poise that befits the toga.” Public sympathy is mostly with McCormick, thanks to the Senate's tactics in previous investigations, including treating witnesses arrogantly, taking private papers unconstitutionally, and making their contents public.

[Note: Good luck with that dept.] Editorial: Real estate owners are organizing to reduce local tax burden. Real estate taxes have always been major part of local taxes, but some states including New York and Massachusets have now adopted an income tax as well; curiously, the new tax, “though it has raised much money, has not materially reduced the tax on real property.” New York state is now organizing a bipartisan commission to study whether a sales tax can be applied to relieve the real estate tax.

New York's tiny housekeeping apartments of today are nothing new under the sun. In London, following the Great Fire of 1666, vast numbers of families were obliged to live in one room and two room apartments.”

Sept. 4:

[Note: Strangely familiar dept.] Chatham Phenix Natl. Bank says August business activity improved somewhat from July low, indicating July level was “extreme low of the depression, with the natural corollary that from now on the curve of activity will rise.” Finds some improvement in employment; sees likely rise in commodity prices.

[Note: Strangely unfamiliar dept.] National debt as of Aug. 31 was $16.188B, up $12.1M from July 31 but down $617.8M from 1929.

[Note: Strangely familiar dept.] Govt. spending over $19,000/day to fight forest fires in many of the 149 US national forests; danger increased by drought conditions.

[Note: Can't afford to die dept.] Surprisingly, National Casket Co. reports bad earnings due to depression; Pres. P. Heintz attributes decline to lower mortality during depressions and switch to lower-priced caskets.

Sept. 3:

[Note: And I thought we invented monkeying with the stats.] Prof. C. Persons quit job in Census Bureau because higher official decided to exclude from count of unemployed those laid off with “promise of reemployment at some indefinite future time”; Prof. Persons estimates there are 5M unemployed, contradicting census estimate of 2M-3M.

[Note: Strangely familiar dept.] Most economists agree business upturn close; peak in business was reached July 1929, so depression has lasted about 14 months. “Those who have faith and confidence in the country and its ability to come back will profit by their foresight. This has also been the case over the past half century.”