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MONTHLY REVIEW
CREDIT, BUSINESS AND AGRICULTURAL CONDITIONS

WILLIAM W. HOXTON,

CHAIRMAN AND FEDERAL RESERVE AGENT

FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF RICHMOND

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA
ARCH business in the Fifth Federal reserve dis­
trict showed a seasonal increase over February
trade in some lines, but in others the developments
of the month were disappointing. Deposits in report­
ing member banks increased during the past month,
both demand and time deposits registering gains. At
the same time the member banks failed to increase their
agricultural loans as they usually do at this season.
In consequence, they were able to increase their in­
vestments in securities and to reduce their rediscounts
at the reserve bank, contrary to seasonal trend. At the
end of March 1931 total deposits in twelve mutual
savings bank in Baltimore were at the highest figure on
record, and time deposits on April 15 in reporting
member banks in the Fifth district were considerably
above time deposits a year ago. Debits to individual
accounts figures, representing payments by check, were
seasonally larger during the five weeks ended April 15,
1931, than during the preceding five weeks, ended
March 11, but were 15 per cent less than debits in the
corresponding five weeks in 1930. The marked de­
crease in debits this year was due in part to lower
price levels, but probably lower income tax payments
this year also accounted for some of the decline. Busi­
ness failures in the Fifth district in March were more
numerous than in any other March since 1922, and
aggregate liabilities involved in the month's insolven­
cies were also exceptionally high. In comparison with
the bankruptcy record of March 1930, the March 1931
record for the Fifth district was worse than the Na­
tional record. Labor conditions showed little if any
real improvement in March, although there was some
increase in such work as painting, gardening, etc. Coal
production continues in less volume than a year ago,
and West Virginia remains below Pennsylvania in out­
put. The textile industry apparently improved some­
what further in March, and cotton consumption in
Fifth district mills showed more than a seasonal rise
in March, but still was below consumption in March
last year. However, the percentage of National con­
sumption attained by Fifth district mills was higher
in March than in the corresponding month last year.
Retail trade as reflected by department store sales
rose 6 per cent last month in comparison with trade in

M




APRIL 30, 1931
March 1930, but most of this increase was due to the
earlier date of Easter this year. Wholesale trade in
March registered seasonal gains over February busi­
ness, but fell behind March 1930 business in all lines,
except shoes, for which figures are available. Building
permits issued in leading cities of the Fifth district in
March provided for only a little over half as much
work as was provided for in March 1930 permits, and
contract award figures for March this year were also
materially lower than those for the corresponding
month a year ago. Spring weather was favorable for
farming, on the whole. There was a deficiency in
moisture until the middle of March, and consequently
grain crops are in poorer condition than a year ago,
but in the second half of March and early April gen­
eral rains put soil in excellent condition for plowing
and planting, and stimulated growth of grains and pas­
tures. Cool weather through March delayed fruit tree
development until serious danger from frost had passed,
thus giving excellent prospects for this year’s fruit
yield. On the whole, agricultural prospects are better
than they were a year ago insofar as yields in the
fields are concerned, but there has been no improve­
ment in the price outlook.

Reserve Bank Statement
ITEMS

000 omitted
April 15 Mar. 15 April 15
1931
1931
1930

Rediscounts h e ld ----------------- $ 14,475 $ 17,611 $ 16,185
1,462
104
10,287
Open market paper--------------17,122
12,640
Government securities----------- 16,983
39,112
36,195
Total earning assets----------- 31,562
72,197
81,757
Circulation of Fed. Res. notes.... 78,483
61,141
66,057
Members* reserve deposits........ 62,075
Cash reserves______________ 118,223 114,267 111,399
79.75
77.68
82.41
Reserve ratio _____ _________

The volume of rediscounts held by the Federal Re­
serve Bank in Richmond declined $3,136,000 between
March 15 and April 15, this year, in spite of the sea­
sonal need for credit at country banks and at city
banks with country correspondents for crop planting
and fertilizer purchases. The reserve bank reduced

MONTHLY REVIEW

2

it’s holdings of open market paper by $1,358,000 dur­
ing the same month, and also lowered it’s holdings of
Government securities by $139,000. These changes
resulted in a net decline of $4,633,000 in the Bank’s
total earning assets between March 15 and April 15.
The circulation of Federal reserve notes dropped $3,274,000 during the month under review, a seasonal
decline at a time when book credit rather than cash is
needed. Member bank reserve deposits at the Federal
Reserve Bank of Richmond rose by $934,000 last
month, but this was probably no more than a daily
fluctuation in the total balance. The several changes
in the statement previously mentioned, with others of
less importance, raised the cash reserves of the Rich­
mond reserve bank by $3,956,000 between March 15
and April 15, and brought the ratio of reserves to note
and deposit liabilities combined up 2.66 points.
A comparison of the April 15, 1931 figures with
those reported for April 15, 1930, shows less demand
for reserve bank credit this year. During the period,
rediscounts for member banks held by the Federal
Reserve Bank of Richmond declined $1,710,000, and
the Bank’s portfolio of open market paper dropped by
$10,183,000. These decreases in earning assets were
partly offset by an increase of $4,343,000 during the
year in holdings of Government securities, but there
was a net decline of $7,550,000 in total earning assets.
On April 15, 1931, the circulation of Federal reserve
notes totaled $6,286,000 above the aggregate amount in
circulation on April 15 last year, this increase probably
being due to a stronger cash position in which many
banks in the Fifth district are keeping themselves at
present. On the other hand, member bank reserve
deposits held by the Richmond bank were $3,982,000
lower at the middle of April than on the same date a
year earlier, lower reserves being required against re­
duced deposits in member banks this year. The cash
reserves of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
rose by $6,824,000 between April 15, 1930, and April
15, 1931, and the ratio of cash reserves to note and
deposit liabilities combined gained 4.73 points. The
increase in the Bank’s cash reserves during the year
was due chiefly to the reduction in investments in open
market paper.

Member Bank Statement
ITEMS

000 omitted
April 15 Mar. 11 April 16
1930
1931
1931

Loans on stocks and bonds (in­
cluding Governments) -------All other loans-------------------Total loans and discounts---Investments in stocks & bonds—
Reserve bal. with F. R. Bank....
Cash in vaults..____________
Demand deposits----------------Time deposits--------------------Borrowed from F. R. Bank.----

$161,826 $164,935 $196,047
262,266 269,015 296,383
424,092 433,950 492,430
222,909 181,735 157,979
38,092
38,596
38,263
15,732
11,296
13,777
331,198 329,004 346,839
259,033 250*023 246,220
4,677
5,763
3,720

The figures in the above table show the principal
items of condition as of three dates for fifty-three mem­
ber banks in thirteen of the leading cities of the Fifth
Federal reserve district. It should be understood that




the figures shown reflect the condition of the reporting
banks on the report dates only, and are not necessarily
the highest or lowest figures that occurred during the
periods under review.
Demand for credit at the reporting member banks
showed an unseasonal decline between March 11 and
April 15, this year, loans on stocks and bonds de­
creasing $3,109,000 and all other loans declining $6,749.000, a total decrease of $9,858,000 during the
month. On the other hand, the banks increased their
investments in stocks and bonds by $41,174,000 be­
tween March 11 and April 15, and reduced their bor­
rowing at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond by
$2,043,000. Cash in vaults declined $1,955,000 during
the month under review, and aggregate balances of the
fifty-three reporting member banks at the reserve bank
decreased by $333,000. Deposits rose last month, de­
mand deposits gaining $2,194,000 and time deposits
rising $9,010,000 between March 11 and April 15.
In comparison with figures reported by the fiftythree member banks on April 16, 1930, those for April
15, 1931, show material changes in most items. Total
loans and discounts decreased $68,338,000 during the
year, loans on stocks and bonds declining $34,221,000
and all other loans dropping $34,117,000. On the other
hand, the reporting banks’ investments in stocks and
bonds rose by $64,930,000 during the year, very nearly
the same amount as the total decrease in loans. The
reserve balances of the fifty-three banks at the reserve
bank showed only a daily fluctuation between the mid­
dle of April last year and this, but the banks’ cash in
vault rose by $2,481,000. Aggregate deposits declined
$2,828,000 during the year, demand deposits decreas­
ing $15,641,000 while time deposits increased $12,813.000. The reporting institutions were borrowing
very little at the reserve bank on either April 15 this
year or April 16 last year, but the 1931 figure showed
a decline of $957,000.

Savings and Time Deposits
Twelve mutual savings banks in Baltimore gained
in deposits during March, and reporting member banks
also gained in time deposits. Aggregate deposits in
the twelve mutual savings banks in Baltimore at the
end of March 1931 totaled $204,327,056, compared
with $202,179,485 on February 28, 1931, and $192327,234 on March 31, 1930. Time deposits in fiftythree regularly reporting member banks in the Fifth
district totaled $259,033,000 on April 15, in compari­
son with $250,023,000 on March 11 this year and
$246,220,000 on April 16, 1930.

Debits to Individual Accounts
Aggregate payments by check drawn on clearing
house banks in twenty-four cities of the Fifth Federal
reserve district are shown in the accompanying table
for three equal periods of five weeks, ended April 15,
1931, March 11, 1931, and April 16, 1930, thus af­
fording opportunity for comparison of the latest fig­
ures with those for the preceding like period this year
and the corresponding period a year ago.

MONTHLY REVIEW
CITIES

000 omitted
Total debits, five weeks ended
April 15,
March 11, April 16,
1930
1931
1931

Asheville, N. G ------- $ 14,693
428,394
Baltimore, Md........ —
20,901
Charleston, S. C.----—
43,043
Charleston, W. Va_
_
55,193
Charlotte, N. C.------28,966
Columbia, S. C ------9,070
Cumberland, Md.........
6,888
Danville, Va............—
28,650
Durham, N. C.--------22,487
Greensboro, N. C____
19,001
Greenville, S. C_____
10,435
Hagerstown, Md. ___
18,756
Huntington, W. Va.....
19,320
Lynchburg, Va........ ....
12,119
Newport News, Va.—
54,290
Norfolk, Va. _______
4,979
Portsmouth, Va. ____
23,201
Raleigh, N. C ______
142,501
Richmond, Va. ______
29,268
Roanoke, Va.
____
11,699
Spartanburg, S. C___
290,882
Washington, D. C ___
15,209
Wilmington, N. C.___
52,447
Winston-Salem, N. C...
Totals________

$1,362,392

$

12,565
434,811
21,705
41,110
45,791
26,171
8,556
7,736
26,218
20,011
19,134
9,305
17,663
19,183
12,662
55,044
5,123
20,504
134,784
29,089
10,311
269,745
12,827
36,326

$ 32,743
533,466
28,300
51,933
64,454
32,593
10,164
7,786
31,957
29,252
23,110
12,153
25,606
22,894
12,786
66,605
5,661
31,547
152,418
36,422
13,881
309,440
19,523
54,079

$1,296,374

$1,608,773

Total debits in the reporting cities in the five weeks
ended April 15 showed an increase of $66,018,000, or
5.1 per cent, over total debits in the preceding five
weeks, ended March 11. The increase was seasonal,
and was due chiefly to income tax payments on March
15 and quarterly settlements on April 1, both of these
important dates falling in the latest five weeks. The
seasonal increase was smaller this year than in most
years, income tax payments on 1930 incomes proving
considerably lower than taxes paid on incomes in other
recent years. Seventeen of the twenty-four cities
reported larger totals for the April 15 period, but
seven cities failed to show the usual increases. AH of
the larger centers except Baltimore and Norfolk re­
ported higher figures for the later five weeks. Winston-Salem made the greatest percentage increase, with
Charlotte and Wilmington second and third, respec­
tively.
A comparison of the debits figures for the five weeks
ended April 15 this year with the figures of the corre­
sponding period ended April 16, 1930, shows a decrease
this year of $246,381,000, or 15.3 per cent, the largest
decline shown in any period for several years. Every
one of the twenty-four reporting cities showed lower
totals for the 1931 five weeks than for the same period
last year.

Commercial Failures

The business mortality record in the Fifth reserve
district in March 1931 was relatively bad. Failures
numbering 168 exceeded the number of insolvencies in
any other March since 1922, and, except for interven­
ing Januarys, were more numerous than in any other
month since May 1922. Aggregate liabilities involved
in March 1931 failures totaled $4,701,539, the highest
figure reported for any month since April 1930, and




3

the highest March figure with two exceptions on rec­
ord. The number of failures reported last month was
33 per cent above the number of insolvencies in March
1930, and last month’s liabilities exceeded those of the
corresponding month in 1930 by 78 per cent. National
figures for March 1931 showed increases of 11 per cent
in number of bankruptcies and 6 per cent in liabilities
in comparison with figures for March 1930, a much
more favorable comparison than the one for the Fifth
district.

Employment

The pressure of unemployment showed some sea­
sonal improvement during the past month, but other­
wise the situation changed very little. A considerable
amount of spring painting, papering, yard and garden
work, etc., has given employment to a number of peo­
ple, but statistics available indicate that this seasonal
work is not up to usual volume this year. Farmers are
hiring some help to prepare land and plant crops, but
there is a surplus of farm workers and in addition many
farmers are not in position to hire help this season.
There was some increase in construction work in
March, but the volume of building in the Fifth dis­
trict is still materially below that of other recent years,
and many workers in building trades are consequently
unemployed or are able to obtain work for part time
only.

Coal Production

Production of bituminous coal in the United States
during the month of March amounted to 33,870,000
net tons as against 31,408,000 tons mined in February
1931 and 33,773,000 tons in March 1930. The in­
crease last month.in comparison with February ton­
nage was due to the longer month, daily average pro­
duction in March being nearly 1 per cent less than pro­
duction in February. Total production of soft coal
during the present calendar year to April 11 (approxi­
mately 86 working days) amounts to 114,929,000 net
tons, a materially smaller amount than for any other
year during the past five. Coal shipped by water
through Hampton Roads, Baltimore and Charleston,
S. C., in March totaled 1,938,807 net tons, and since
January 1, 1931, these ports have shipped 5,943,447
tons, or 66 per cent, of total tidewater shipments of
bituminous coal.
The March 21 report of the Bureau of Mines, De­
partment of Commerce, showed production figures by
states for February. West Virginia with an output of
7,746,000 net tons was in second place, Pennsylvania
with 8,690,000 tons ranking first. The three coal produring states of the Fifth district, West Virginia, Vir­
ginia and Maryland, dug approximately 28 per cent of
all soft coal mined in February, the same percentage
of the total that the district reported in February a
year ago.

Textiles
Conditions in the textile industry continued to show
some improvement in March, and daily consumption of
cotton by Fifth district mills during the month rose
3.3 per cent over daily consumption in February. Or­

4

MONTHLY REVIEW

ders for textile products somewhat exceeded produc­
tion, further reducing surplus stocks in warehouses of
the mills. Fifth district mills consumed 220,902 bales
of cotton in March this year, of which North Carolina
mills used 117,200 bales, South Carolina mills 92,954
bales, and Virginia mills 10,748 bales. In February
1931 Fifth district mills consumed 197,331 bales and
in March 1930 used 224,881 bales. Consumption in
the Fifth district was 45.03 per cent of National con­
sumption in March 1931, a slightly lower figure than
45.52 per cent in February this year, but higher than
44.30 per cent in March 1930. During the past two
months the percentage of cotton consumed in the Fifth
district in comparison with National consumption has
decreased slightly, indicating a somewhat greater im­
provement in the textile industry in other sections than
the Fifth district

Cotton Statistics
Spot cotton prices on ten Southern markets slowly
declined during the past month, dropping gradually
from 9.97 cents per pound, upland middling basis,
on March 13 to 9.48 cents per pound on April 17, the
latest date for which figures are available. The latest
figure quoted shows a decline of $28 a bale under the
mid-April 1930 price, and is $47 a bale lower than
the price on the corresponding date in, 1929.
Cotton consumption in the United States in March
1931 totaled 490,586 bales, compared with 433,510
bales used in February this year and 507,646 bales in
March 1930. Total consumption for the eight months
of the present cotton season—August 1 to March 31—
amounted to 3,390,528 bales, compared with 4,316,387
bales consumed in the corresponding period ended
March 31, 1930. Manufacturing establishments held
1,477,758 bales on March 31, compared with 1,547,759
bales held on February 28 this year and 1,758,171 bales
on March 31, 1930. Public warehouses and compresses
held 6, 642,648 bales in storage at the end of March
this year, compared with 7,314, 450 bales, so held a
month earlier and 4,198,077 bales on March 31 last
year. March exports totaled 605,461 bales, compared
with 432,996 bales sent abroad in February this year
and ,477,678 bales exported in March last year. Ex­
ports during the eight months of this cotton year to­
taled 5,509,724 bales, compared with 5,770,764 bales
shipped over seas during the corresponding eight
months ended March 31, 1930. f Spindles active in
March numbered 26,489,832, compared with 25,763,408 in February this year and 28,862,400 in March
1930.
Cotton growing states consumed 383,552 bales in
March 1931, compared with 341,216 bales used in Feb­
ruary and 393,906 bales in March 1930. Last month’s
consumption in the cotton growing states amounted to
78.18 per cent of National consumption, compared with
77.59 per cent of National consumption used in the
cotton growing states in March last year. Of the 383,552 bales of cotton consumed in cotton growing states
in March, the Fifth district mills used 220,902 bales,
or 57.59 per cent, compared with 57.09 per cent of
Southern consumption attained in the district in March
last year.




Tobacco Marketing
Virginia tobacco markets closed in February and
March, and the Agricultural Statistician of the state
has issued a report on the season’s sales. Producers’
tobacco sold for the 1930-1931 season totaled 131,966,925 pounds, compared with 126,825,002 pounds
sold during the previous season. Although sales from
the 1930 crop totaled about 4 per cent above sales from
the 1929 crop, the current season’s average price of
$8.61 per hundred pounds brought growers a total of
only $11,359,000, in comparison with an average price
of $17.53 for the 1929 crop which brought a total of
$22,228,000. Flue-cured sales this year totaled 96,315,754 pounds, which sold at an average of $7.94 per
hundred, compared with 92,949,878 pounds sold for
an average of $17.36 from the 1929 crop. Fire-cured
tobacco sold this season in Virginia totaled 23,324,643
pounds, at an average of $8.26 per hundred pounds,
compared with sales totaling 22,811,016 pounds last
season for which growers received $16.87 per hundred.
Burley sales amounted to 8,949,672 pounds this season,
at an average of $17.05 per hundred, compared with
6,930,130 pounds at an average of $24.45 last year.
Sun-cured tobacco sold totaled 3,376,856 pounds at an
average of $7.73, compared with 4,133,978 pounds sold
during the previous season for an average of $13.23
per hundred. Among the individual markets, Dan­
ville led in total sales of flue-cured tobacco with 44,025,824 pounds, and Lynchburg led the fire-cured mar­
kets with sales aggregating 6,357,724 pounds. Danville
also led in price for flue-cured tobacco with an average
for the season of $9.30 per hundred, and Blackstone led
the fire-cured markets with $11.59 per hundred. All
burley tobacco was sold at Abingdon and all sun-cured
at Richmond. According to estimates of warehouse­
men, this season’s sales graded 10 per cent good, 26 per
cent medium, and 64 per cent common, compared with
26 per cent good, 39 per cent medium, and 35 per
cent common last season.
North Carolina markets sold 562,936,467 pounds of
growers’ tobacco from the 1930 crop, at an average
price of $12.85 per hundred pounds, compared with
481,456,650 pounds sold from the 1929 crop at an aver­
age of $18.40 per hundred. All North Carolina to­
bacco is flue-cured except 2,959,434 pounds of burley
sold at Asheville this year, this being the first season
a burley market has been open in the state. Wilson led
all markets in total sales this season with 77,788,672
pounds, Greenville and Winston-Salem ranking second
and third, respectively. In average price paid growers
Fuquay Springs was first with $16.19 per hundred, fol­
lowed by the burley market at Asheville with $15.83
and Cathage with $15.60. The following figures show
clearly how over production of tobacco in recent years
has affected income received by North Carolina grow­
ers.
Value
Production
Year
$ 87,438,000
380,165,000 lbs.
1925
96,615,000
386,460,000
1926
108,248,526
485,419,400
1927
95,886,336
499,408,000
1928
91,473,000
502,600,000
1929
74,429,256
579,216,000
1930

MONTHLY REVIEW

Agricultural Notes
The 1930 agricultural season is quite late, weather
having continued cold through most of March and
moisture during the first two and a half months of
the year being insufficient for plant growth. However,
since the middle of March general rains have fallen
over the entire district, and weather has been favor­
able for plant growth and farm work. Winter grains
are in poorer condition than at this time last year, due
chiefly to poor stands secured in the fall of 1930 as a
result of dry soil at planting and germinating time.
Pastures were very slow in providing grazing this
spring, but grass grew rapidly in the first half of
April. Fruit prospects this year are much better than
a year ago, the lateness of the season having retarded
budding until there is little danger from freezes or
frosts during the remainder of the spring. Intentionsto-plant reports issued by the Department of Agricul­
ture indicate ;some probable reduction in acreage, but
the surplus of cotton and tobacco accumulated in re­
cent years is so large that drastic reductions in acreage
would have to be made to affect prices materially.

Retail Trade, 35 Department Stores__________
Richmond Baltimore Washington Other Cities District
March 1931 sales, compared with sales in March 1930:
+ 3.9
+ 3.7
+13.3
— 3.8
+ 6.3
Total sales in 3 mos. of 1931, comp, with 1st 3 mos. of 1930:
_ 2.5
— 1.5
+ 4.5
— 9.9
— .3
Mar. 31, 1931 stocks, compared with stocks on Mar. 31, 1930:
—18.9
—11.9
—15.3
—17.4
—14.6
Mar. 31, 1931 stocks, compared with stocks on Feb. 28, 1931:
— 1.0
+ 9.4
+ 6.9
+ 4.3
+ 6.7
Number of times stock was turned in March 1931:
.362
.353
.353
.249
.34
Number of times stock was turned since January 1, 1931:
.904
.895
.932
.619
.872
Percentage of March 1, 1931, receivables collected in M arch:
31.5
25.4
33.2
28.4
28.9

Department store sales in thirty-five leading stores in
the Fifth Federal reserve district in March 1931 aver­
aged 6.3 per cent in dollar volume above sales in March
1930, but it is difficult to determine how large a part
of the increase was due to the earlier date of Easter
this year. All of the 1930 seasonal buying for Easter
occurred in April, but this year March weather was
good and Easter fell so early in April that a very
large part of the seasonal buying was done in March.
The good record of last month did much to make up
for the relatively poor trade of January and February,
and total sales during the first quarter of 1931 aver­
aged only 3/10 of 1 per cent less than sales in the
first quarter of 1930, when prices were materially high­
er in many lines than they are at present.
Stocks on the shelves of the reporting department
stores rose an average of 6.7 per cent during March,
a seasonal increase just before Easter, but on March
31 average stocks at retail prices were 14.6 per cent
below stocks on hand on March 31, 1930. Stocks were
turned .34 times in March this year, and during the
first quarter of 1931 stocks were turned .872 times, a




5

higher figure than .74 times in the first three months
of 1930.
Collections in March 1931 in thirty-four of the
thirty-five stores averaged 28.9 per cent of receivables
outstanding on March 1, a better record than that of
March 1930, when 27.4 per cent of outstanding re­
ceivables as of March 1 were collected during the
month.

Wholesale Trade, 65 Firms
24
9
6
15
H
Groceries Dry Goods
Shoes
Hardware
Drugs
March 1931 sales, compared with sales in March 1930:
—16.3
—29.9
+ .1
—29.6
— 7.5
March 1931 sales, compared with sales in February 1931:
+ 9.1
+ 9.1
+30.6
+ 4.0
+ 3.5
Jan.-Mar. 1931 sales, compared with sales in Jan.-Mar. 1930:
—18.8
—32.4
—12.0
—31.0
— 4.4
March 31, 1931 stocks, compared with March 31, 1930 stocks:
—16.7(8*) —26.2(4*) —14.4(6*) — 7.5(8*)
____
March 31, 1931 stocks compared with Feb. 28, 1931 stocks:
+ .2(8*) + .2(4*) — 2.0(5*) -1 .2 (8 * )
____
Percentage of March 1, 1931 receivables collected in March:
58.7(14*)
35.8(6*)
25.3(6*)
29.4(12*) 57.4(8*)
—Denotes decreased percentage. *Number of reporting firms.

Sixty-five wholesale firms in the Fifth reserve dis­
trict sold more goods in March 1931 than in Febru­
ary this year, chiefly a seasonal increase, but in some
lines the increases were perhaps greater than in most
years. In comparison with March 1930 sales, how­
ever, those for March 1931 were materially lower in
dollar amount in all lines reported upon except shoes,
in which a small gain in sales was reported last month.
All five lines for which data are available report lower
total sales for the first quarter of 1931, in comparison
with sales in the first quarter of 1930.
Stocks of the reporting firms did not change mate­
rially during March this year, but on March 31 all
lines showed smaller stocks than on the corresponding
date a year ago, dry goods stocks decreasing most and
hardware stocks least during the year.
Collections in all five lines were seasonally better
in March than in February this year, the percentages
of collections during the month to receivables out­
standing on March 1 being larger than the percentages
for the earlier month. Dry goods and shoe collections
in March 1931 were also better than those for March
1930, but the percentages of collections in groceries,
hardware and drugs were lower last month than in the
corresponding month a year ago.

Construction
Building permits issued in March in thirty-one Fifth
district cities provided for much less work than per­
mits issued in March 1930. Last month 1,133 permits
were issued for new construction, compared with 1,275
permits in March last year. Valuation figures for new
construction totaled only $6,250,824 in March 1931,
against $12,099,867 for similar work in March 1930.
Total valuation figures for all classes of work issued in
March were $7,193,060, a decrease of $5,927,232, or
45.2 per cent, under valuation figures totaling $13,120,292 in March last year. Only six of the 31 re­

6

MONTHLY REVIEW

porting cities showed higher valuation figures for the
1931 month, and most of these increases were due to
very low 1930 figures rather than to a large volume
of work this year. No figures for March 1931 were
obtainable from Huntington, West Virginia, and that
city was therefore omitted from the table of building
permits printed elsewhere in this Review.
Contracts awarded for construction work in the

Fifth reserve district in March this year totaled $30,615,813, including both urban and rural construction,
compared with $43,220,110 in contracts awarded in
March 1930, according to figures collected by the F. W.
Dodge Corporation. Of the March 1931 contracts,
$9,767,128 was for residential structures, compared
with $10,356,810 for residence work in March last
year.

(Compiled April 21, 1931)

BUILDING OPERATIONS FOR THE MONTHS OF MARCH 1931 AND 1930.
©

CITIES

Permits Issued
New
4 Repairs
1931 1930

1
2
3

4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32

Baltimore, Md.------Cumberland, Md.----Frederick, Md-------Hagerstown, Md.......
Salisbury, Md.------Danville, Va---------Lynchburg, Va..........
Norfolk, Va...............
Petersburg, Va..........
Portsmouth, Va.____
Richmond, Va...........
Roanoke, Va.............
Bluefield, W. Va.
Charleston, W. Va.....
Clarksburg, W. Va.....
Huntington, W.Va.__
Asheville, N.C.------Charlotte, N. C.-----Durham, N. C.____
Greensboro, N. C.__
High Point, N. C.......
Raleigh, N. C.-------Rocky Mount, N.C.....
Salisbury, N. C.____
Wilmington, N. C.___
Winston-Salem, N. C .....
Charleston, S. C.____
Columbia, S. C.____
Greenville, S. C.____
Rock Hill, S. C .____
Spartanburg, S. C.....
Washington, D. C_
_
Totals-------------

1931

New Construction

1930

776
12
9
1
10
9
13
45
2
15
70
19
7

1931

1930

Alterations
1931

949 $ 1,901,160 $ 2,087,640
133,385
8
12,925
7,125
10,495
11
30,225
31,482
4
30,175
12
57,125
6,427
10
2,000
139,108
234,425
20
80,770
369337
41
4,000
17,250
4
26,021
26,200
26
409,383
246,115
70
95,653
27
130,077
283
123,000
2
73,770
10
4,116,358
51,730
11
1,787
*47,000
*7
6,145
32,700
49
32
121,265
414,935
164,800
15,900
5
88,985
22,148
19
59,350
2
25,865
12
33,660
40,395
26,735
18,400
.5
11,525
4,225
11
53,900
90,200
191,000
52
54,181
22
17,400
856,135
41,550
320,900
29
49
59,950
128,600
27,895
16
32,450
14
275,175
81,441
298
2,476,650
2,853,800

$ 465,600
3,829
5,895
3,310
3,750
7,570
4,673
22,171
225
8,785
41,491
4,682
1,825
2,950
9,700

1,133 1,252 1,739 1,816 $ 6,250,824 $12,052,867

$ 942,236

427
9
3
15
14
5
15
83
1
21
65
35
3
19
13

__

15
28

6

14
13
11
9
4
9
14
13
22
10
13

6

218

498
13
19
20
26
5
32
94
5
21

68

39
8
40
12
*23
5
45
16
17
18
18
12
3
11
51
22
14
21
9
19
71

6

11

__

16
43

6

49
4
9
2
0

8

46
31
30
24
9
15
442

6

.........

8,851
41,133
10,656
21,445
9,500
5,549
500
0
13,300
23,250
5,688
17,950
13,043
3,435
3,740
177,740

1930
443,520
2,850
4,160
8,600
2,675
8,605
30,335
22,980
3,300
17,493
76,235
10,272
1,050
41,325
11,325
*2,550
22,932
12,780
1,550
11,155
800
3,300
3,145
500
3,200
35,671
4,425
14,640
28,384
6,065
4,913
229,240

Increase or
Decrease
of
Total
Valuation
$— 164,400
121,439
— 1,635
— 6,547
— 25,875
3,392
— 120,979
— 289,376
— 16,325
— 8,887
128,524
— 40,014
— 121,942
—4,080,963
48,318
—
—
—
—
—
—
—
—
—
—
—
—
—
—

40,636
265,317
139,794
56,547
24,785
4,486
10,980
6,800
26,200
149,240
37,472
276,040
83,991
7,185
192,561
428,650

o

fc

T2
3
4
5

6
7

8
9
10
11

12

13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32

$1,067,425 $—5,927,232

— Denotes decrease.
♦These figures not included in totals.
NOTE—The figures in the above table reflect the amount of work provided for in the corporation limits of the sev­
eral cities, but take no account of suburban developments.




MONTHLY REVIEW

7

BUSINESS CONDITIONS IN THE UNITED STATES
(Compiled by the Federal Reserve Board)

F urther increase in industrial activity was re­
ported for the month of March, which usually
shows little change from February. Factory em­
ployment and payrolls increased by the usual sea­
sonal amount between the middle of February and
the middle of March. The volume of building con­
tracts awarded in March showed considerable
growth, largely of a seasonal nature. The general
level of wholesale prices continued to decline.

Production and Employment.

Industrial production increased 2 per cent further
in March and the Federal Reserve Board’s sea­
sonally adjusted index stood at 88 per cent of the
1923-1925 average, compared with 104 per cent in
March 1930. There was a considerable increase in
daily average output of steel, which ordinarily
shows little change from February to March, while
production of automobiles increased by about the
usual seasonal percentage. Activity at cotton mills
increased slightly, contrary to the ordinary sea­
sonal movement, and there was a substantial in­
crease in output of shoes. In the first half of April
steel mill activity declined.
The number of men employed at factories in­
creased between the middle of February and the
middle of March by about the usual seasonal
amount. In the iron and steel and automobile in­
dustries somewhat larger than usual increases were
shown and at textile mills and shoe factories, where
the number employed ordinarily declines in March,
substantial increases in employment were reported.
In the agricultural machinery and petroleum re­
fining industries and at car building shops, employ­
ment declined contrary to the usual seasonal trend,
and in the automobile tire and fertilizer industries
employment increased less than usual.
Volume of building contracts awarded in March
increased considerably from February, according
to the F. W. Dodge Corporation, reflecting in large
part developments of a seasonal character. Con­
tracts for residential building increased seasonally
and were in about the same volume as a year ago,
while contracts for public works and utilities rose
to the high level of March 1930.

Agriculture.

Definite improvement in moisture conditions in
the drought area was an important development in
March and the first week of April; supplies of
moisture in the topsoil have been replenished, but
the subsoil continued to be dry in certain areas,
particularly in the spring wheat belt. Department
of Agriculture estimates, based on April 1 condi­
tions, indicate a winter wheat crop of 644,000,00X3




bushels, about 100,000,000 bushels larger than the
five-year average and 40,000,000 more than last
year. Intentions to plant, as reported March 1,
indicate a considerable reduction in spring wheat
acreage, and an increase in acreage to be planted
to corn.

Distribution.

Volume of freight-car loadings increased season­
ally in March and department store sales increased
during the Easter season by about the usual
amount.

Prices.

The general level of wholesale commodity prices
continued to decline in March, according to the
Bureau of Labor Statistics, reflecting chiefly re­
ductions in the prices of petroleum products,
bituminous coal, and textile products. Prices of
farm products increased slightly and there was a
substantial advance in the price of hides. In the
first half of April prices of many commodities, in­
cluding cattle, cotton, rubber, and coffee, declined,
while the price of wheat advanced.

Bank Credit.

Loans and investments of member banks in lead­
ing cities, which had increased in the middle of
March as the result of Treasury operations, showed
a decline for every week between March 18 and
April 8, but on the latter date were still $270,000,000
larger than four weeks earlier. Investment hold­
ings of these banks were at a new high figure on
April 8, owing largely to an increase in their hold­
ings of United States Government obligations,
while loans on securities as well as all other loans
showed a decline for the four-week period.
Volume of reserve bank credit has fluctuated
since the middle of February around a level of
$925,000,000. Continued imports of gold, deposited
by member banks with the reserve banks, have
provided the member banks with sufficient funds
to meet an increase in the demand for currency.
United States Government security holdings of the
reserve banks have remained at the level of $600,000,000 established last summer, while discounts
for member banks have continued to decline and
holdings of purchased acceptances have fluctuated
in response to temporary changes in the demand
for reserve bank credit.
Money rates showed little change from the mid­
dle of March to the middle of April. Rates on com­
mercial paper declined further from a prevailing
rate of 2% per cent to a range of 2 ^ 4 -2 ^ per cent,
while bond yields increased slightly.