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MONTHLY

REVIEW

B U SIN E SS AND AGRICULTURAL CONDITIONS

WILLIAM W. HOXTON, CHAIRMAN AND FEDERAL R E S E R V E AGENT
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA

During November more signs of a slackening in
business activity in the Fifth Reserve District were
visible than during any recent month, but to a con­
siderable degree these manifestations were seasonal
in character and probably did not indicate any real
slump in trade. Perhaps the most outstanding un­
favorable factor that has recently developed in the
Fifth District is the accentuated lack of demand for
bituminous coal, which has greatly unbalanced busi­
ness in the mining sections of West Virginia.
Wholesalers are making few sales to the merchants
who are dependent upon the coal miners for their
trade, and collections in that section of the District
are quite slow. Another weak spot in the District
is the textile industry, which is finding the going
difficult in the face of high costs for raw material
and a reluctance on the part of buyers to pay re­
placement prices for manufactured goods. This
situation was not entirely a November development,
however, having begun in August when raw cotton
prices began an upward march, and the depression
has not influenced general business in the textile
manufacturing sections to anything like the extent
that the dullness in the coal trade has influenced
business in West Virginia. In all other lines of
trade and industry, November’s volume of business
was fully up to seasonal average and in a few
fields, such as valuation of new construction work,
was greater by comparison than customary for that
month of the year. Reports from member banks
show that demand deposits materially increased dur­
ing November, while loans to customers by the re­
porting banks and rediscounts at the Reserve Bank
were notably reduced. Savings deposits declined
slightly in both member banks and mutual savings
banks during November, a natural recession due
to expenditures for holiday merchandise, but were
distinctly higher at the end of the month than they
were at the end of November 1922. The cash re­
serves of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
rose during the past month, and reserve deposits
of member banks also showed an increase, while
borrowing at the Reserve Bank was sharply reduced
as a result of agricultural liquidation at the member
banks. The Reserve Bank's ratio of cash reserves
to combined note and deposit liabilities increased
approximately seven points during the month.
Debits to individual accounts in the leading cities of



DECEMBER 31, 1923

the Fifth District showed an increase during the
four weeks ending December 12, 1923 that was
fully up to seasonal expectations, and reached a
total of 8.5% above the total reported by the same
cities during the corresponding four weeks of 1922.
Business failures in the Fifth District during No­
vember were fewer in number and less in liabilities
than in November 1922, and the average liability
per failure was considerably lower than the average
for the United States. Labor continues fully em­
ployed, and there has been some improvement in
the available supply of workers. However, there
is no surplus of labor anywhere in the District ex­
cept in the coal fields, where many mines are either
operating only part time or have closed entirely.
Coal production is sufficient to provide for all needs,
and consumers have recently secured some price
concessions on soft coal. The textile industry is
less active, as previously stated, but the mills have
continued operations and their employees have there­
fore not felt the depression to any appreciable ex­
tent. Cotton prices at this writing are about $40
a bale higher than at the end of November last
year, and Government estimates credit the three cot­
ton growing states of the Fifth District with an in­
crease of 491,000 bales this year in comparison with
the 1922 production. During the past month the
Government increased its estimate of the Fifth Dis­
trict crop by 63,000 bales. In comparison with last
year, tobacco yields are sufficiently large to com­
pensate in the total value of returns for the lower
grades produced this year. Other farm crops turned
out good yields, on the whole, and the farmers are
showing a more general disposition to diversify their
crops and to produce at home more of their own
necessities. Building operations in the number of
permits issued are fully up to seasonal average,
if not higher, and valuation figures are above some
of the earlier months of the year. Retail trade is
excellent in holiday lines, though rather slow in
staple goods because of the unseasonably mild
weather during the fall. Wholesale trade showed
the usual falling off in November in comparison
with October, but was larger in practically all lines
than in November 1922. On the whole, the Fifth
District appears to occupy a position which compares
favorably with other sections of the nation.

CONDITION OF SEVENTY-SIX REPORTING MEMBER BANKS IN SELECTED CITIES.
ITEMS

■
I
1

1. Total Loans and Discounts (including
all rediscounts) .................................. $
2. Total Investments in Bonds and Securi­
ties ........................................................
3. Total Loans and Investments...................
4. Reserve Balance with Federal Reserve
Bank......................................................
5. Cash in Vaults.............................................
6. Demand Deposits.......................................
7. Time Deposits.............................................
8. Borrowed from Federal Reserve Bank.....

Dec. 5, 1923
463,140,000

Nov. 7, 1923
$

466,098,000

Dec. 6, 1922
$

430,961,000*

126.904.000
590.044.000

126.792.000
592.890.000

129.094.000
560.055.000

37.084.000
15.485.000
347.170.000
150.679.000
31.780.000

36.662.000
14.757.000
342.298.000
152.223.000
37.215.000

34.881.000
14.962.000
333.160.000
145.053.000
23.989.000

I
I
|
|

♦Does not include Rediscounts.

In the accompanying table we show the principal items of condition reported by seventy-six member
banks on three dates, December 5, 1923, November 7, 1923 and December 6, 1922. These figures afford
an opportunity for comparing the totals reported for the latest date with those reported for the previous
month this year and on the corresponding date a year ago.
During the month between November 7 and December 5, 1923, total loans to customers in the seventysix bank declined from $466,098,000 to $463,140,000, the decrease being seasonal and due to the liquidation
of agricultural paper with the proceeds of the sales of this year’s crops. Demand deposits increased from
$342,298,000 on November 7th to $347,170,000 on December 5th, but Time Deposits decreased, falling
from $152,223,000 to $150,679,000 during the month. The loss in Time Deposits, which seems to be a
regular seasonal development in the closing weeks of the year, is doubtless due to holiday expenditures.
Borrowing from the Federal Reserve Bank was reduced by the reporting banks from $37,215,000 on No­
vember 7th to $31,780,000 on December 5th. Between the same dates, total investments in bonds and se­
curities increased from $126,792,000 to $126,904,000, Reserve balances at the Reserve Bank rose from
$36,662,000 to $37,084,000, and Cash in member bank Vaults increased from $14,757,000 to $15,485,000.
The two figures in the table showing Loans and Discounts on December 5, 1923 and December 6,
1922 cannot be compared because the figure reported under this head a year ago did not include redis­
counts, but all other items are comparable. During the year Investments in bonds and securities declined
from $129,094,000 to $126,904,000, but all other items show increases in the 1923 figures. Reserve Balance
with the Reserve Bank rose from $34,881,000 on December 6, 1922 to $37,084,000 on December 5, 1923,
Cash in vaults increased from $14,962,000 to $15,485,000, Demand Deposits increased from $333,160,000
to $347,170,000, Time Deposits rose from $145,053,000 to $150,679,000, and Borrowings at the Reserve
Bank increased from $23,989,000 to $31,780,000. The changes obviously indicate a greater demand for
credit at the reporting banks this year than during 1922.

FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OPERATIONS
Cash reserves of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond rose from $109,004,949.43 on November 14th
to $122,161,621.50 on December 12th, and the volume of Federal Reserve Notes in actual circulation in­
creased from $101,824,145 to $105,205,365 during the same period. As we pointed out in our Review last
month in mentioning a similar upward movement in these items during the preceding month, these increases
are seasonal, the increase in cash reserves being brought about by transfers of funds from other districts in
payment for cotton and other agricultural products sold and shipped, and the increase in note circulation
resulting from the increased needs for currency for crop moving and holiday trade. Member bank reserve
deposits increased from $63,295,280.24 on November 14th to $63,519,458.03 on December 12th. On the
other hand, payment of loans at member banks largely with funds secured from crop sales, enabled the
member banks to reduce their rediscounts at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond from $61,495,338.35
to $53,752,150.35 between November 14th and December 12th. As a result of the changes mentioned above,
the ratio of cash reserves to deposit and note liabilities combined rose from 64.65% on November 14th
to 71.80% on December 12th.
A year ago, on December 13, 1922, the Cash reserves of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
amounted to $118,768,756.79; Federal Reserve Notes in actual circulation totaled $99,358,988; Member
Bank reserve deposits aggregated $60,660,397.49; and total rediscounts amounted to $44,951,948.17. The
ratio of cash reserves to combined note and deposit liabilities was 73.98%.

SAVINGS BANK DEPOSITS
Total deposits in the fifteen regularly reporting mutual savings banks, located in Baltimore, declined
slightly during November, but this decline is customary at this season of the year. Total deposits in the




2

fifteen banks amounted to $138,804,131 at the close of business November 30, 1923, compared with totals
of $129,871,328 on November 30, 1922, $122,701,287 on November 30, 1921, and $121,573,303 on Novem­
ber 30, 1920. The November 1923 total shows an increase of 6.9% over deposits a year ago and a gain
of 14.2% over deposits in November 1920.

DEBITS TO INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNT IN LEADING TRADE CENTERS
TOTAL DEBITS FOR THE FOUR WEEKS ENDING
CITIES
Nov. 14, 1923

Dec. 12, 1923

Dec. 13, 1922

Asheville, N. C....................................................
Baltimore, Md.....................................................
Charleston, S. C..................................................
Charleston, W. Va..............................................
Charlotte, N. C...................................................
Columbia, S. C....................................................
Cumberland, Md.................................................
Danville, Va........................................................
Durham, N. C....................................................
Greensboro, N. C................................................
Greenville, S. C...................................................
Hagerstown, Md............................. ...................
Huntington, W. Va.................. ..........................
Lynchburg, Va....................................................
Newport News, Va.............................................
Norfolk, Va.........................................................
Raleigh, N. C......................................................
Richmond, Va.....................................................
Roanoke, Va.......................................................
Spartanburg, S. C...............................................
Washington, D. C...............................................
Wilmington, N. C................................................
Winston-Salem, N. C........... ..............................

$

20,391,000
337.735.000
29.897.000
34.213.000
44.383.000
22.058.000
8.649.000
12.989.000
21.614.000
24.374.000
26.575.000
10.026.000
24.818.000
19.257.000
8.542.000
93.110.000
28.840.000
144.633.000
24.166.000
13.012.000
181.559.000
23.869.000
29.771.000

$

19,704,000
331.300.000
23.694.000
34.089.000
39.829.000
24.324.000
8.265.000
11.759.000
20.458.000
24.724.000
26.892.000
9.083.000
22.494.000
17.486.000
6.224.000
77.966.000
27.990.000
128.848.000
21.959.000
14.728.000
177.772.000
24.477.000
30.533.000

$

17,377,000
329.615.000
25.159.000
37.953.000
35.762.000
19.868.000
7.705.000
13.189.000
20.271.000
22.463.000
19.400.000
8.069.000
23.485.000
18.420.000
7.657.000
75.996.000
27.600.000
128.608.000
25.477.000
10.230.000
168,031,000
22.533.000
27.214.000

Totals for 23 cities..................................

$

1,184,481,000

$

1,124,598,000

$

1,092,082,000

The accompanying table shows the total of all debits to individual, firm and corporation accounts
in the banks of twenty-three of the chief trade centers of the Fifth Reserve District, totals being included
for the four weeks ending December 12, 1923, November 14, 1923 and December 13, 1922, thus affording
an opportunity for comparing the latest four weeks period with (1) the preceding period this year and (2)
the corresponding period last year.
During the four weeks ending December 12, 1923, aggregate debits in the twenty-three reporting cities
amounted to $1,184,481,000, compared with $1,124,598,000 reported for the period ending November 14,
1923, an increase of $59,883,000 during the month, seventeen of the twenty-three cities showing gains.
This increase is seasonal, being due to the increased volume of trade as the Christmas holidays approach.
The four weeks ending December 12, 1923, with total debits amounting to $1,184,481,000, show an
increase of $92,399,000, or 8.5% , over the corresponding four weeks last year, ending December 13, 1922,
during which period the reporting cities had aggregate debits amounting to $1,092,082,000. Part of the
increase noted this year is due to the larger volume of business unquestionably being done in comparison
with the fall of 1922, but a considerable part of the increase is due to higher prices being received this
year for cotton and to increased yields of both cotton and tobacco over the 1922 crops. All of the twentythree reporting cities show higher figures during the 1923 period than during the corresponding period last
year except three, one of them a coal center, one a tobacco market, and one a railroad shop center.

BUSINESS FAILURES IN THE TWELVE FEDERAL RESERVE DISTRICTS
NOVEMBER, 1923 AND 1922.
Business failures in November were more numerous than in any other month since January, taking
the country as a whole, and the aggregate of liabilities involved, while less than in October, was greater
than in any other month since April. Dun’s Review reports 1,704 failures in November 1923, with lia­
bilities totaling $50,291,708, compared with 1,673 failures involving $79,301,741 of liabilities in October
1923, and 1,737 failures involving $40,265,297 of liabilities in November 1922. Commenting on the figures
given for November, Dun’s Review says, “ A number of large failures in manufacturing lines last month
accounted for a considerable part of the defaulted indebtedness, the same as in October, the manufacturing
liabilities for November amounting to 58 percent of the total for that month.” For the eleven months
of 1923 there have been 16,877 insolvencies in commercial lines, for which the aggregate of indebtedness
w^'s $487,772,076, these figures comparing favorably with 21,862 defaults during the first eleven months
o* 1922, with liabilities of $565,827,230.




3

1923

1922

Per Cent
Increase or
Decrease

Boston, First.......................................
New York, Second..............................
Philadelphia Third............................
Cleveland, Fourth...............................
Richmond, Fifth
......
Atlanta, Sixth
Chicago, Seventh................................
St. Louis, Eighth.................................
Minneapolis, Ninth.............................
Kansas City, Tenth......... ...................
Dallas, Eleventh..................................
San Francisco, Twelfth.....................

133
356
78
116
103
106
230
109
91
75
127
180

149
344
81
122
121
122
236
120
82
£74
83
203

—10.7
3.5
— 3.7
— 4.9
—14.9
—13.1
— 2.5
— 9.2
11.0
1.4
53.0
—11.3

$ 10,727,470
8,126,848
3,864,301
4,001,582
2,223,757
3,710,159
6,433,450
2,233,369
1,565,635
^892,862
4^445,724
2,066,551

$ 2,652,701
9,548,910
2,945,345
6,395,906
2,938,562
1,928,165
5,928,921
2,060,085
1.270.805
753,984
1,361,108
2.480.805

Totals...........................................

1,704

1,737

— 1.9 °fo

$ 50,291,708

$ 40,265,297

Number
City and District

Liabilities
1923

1922

Per Cent of
Increase or
Decrease
304.4
— 14.9
31.2
— 37.4
— 24.3
92.4
8.5
8.4
23.2
18.4
226.6
— 16.7
24.9#

In the Fifth District there were 102 bankruptcies in November 1923, compared with 91 in October of
this year and 121 in November 1922. In liabilities involved November witnessed a total of $2,223,757, com­
pared with $2,317,926 reported in October and $2,938,562 reported in November 1922.
The average liability per failure in November 1923 was $21,590 in the Fifth District and $29,514 in
the nation as a whole, compared with average liabilities in November 1922 of $24,286 in the Fifth District
and $23,181 in the nation.

LABOR— Letters received this month from many correspondents indicate that the labor situation is
probably somewhat easier than has been the case since spring, but there is no surplus of workers. The
cities have sufficient laborers to supply all demands, and some rural industries such as lumbering are find­
ing men easier to secure, but farmers still have difficulty in finding men who are willing to work for wages
the farmers can afford to pay. A considerable labor turnover is commented upon by some of our correspond­
ents, who state that there is a constant movement of workers from job to job, without any apparent reason.
Reports to us state that wages seem to be stable at present levels, and that 110 material changes are expected
in the near future, though a seasonal slackening in the volume of outdoor work during the next two or three
months may tend to decrease wages of unskilled workers to some extent. On the whole, the year 1923
has been a very favorable one for laborers in the Fifth District, almost all classes having been steadily em­
ployed at good wages. Disputes between employers and employees have been rare, and those that have arisen
have been of minor importance, and were easily settled.
COAL— The daily production of soft coal appears to have settled definitely into a downward trend,
according to reports issued weekly by the Department of the Interior through the Geological Survey, the
reduction being due almost entirely to absence of sufficient demand for the output of the mines. Many
mines are closed entirely, and others are operating part time or with reduced forces. Letters received from
coal dealers in West Virginia state that very little spot coal is being sold, the mines that are operating
doing so on contracts previously placed. Retail coal yards appear to be well stocked, and there has been
some softening of retail prices during the past month, a very unusual development at this season of the year.
Final returns to the Geological Survey on anthracite shipments show that the total output in November was
approximately 7,746,000 net tons, a decrease of 978,000 tons under the October production. The decrease
in the production of anthracite coal is chiefly due to the fewer number of working days in November, how­
ever, rather than to any lack of demand for the coal. Cumulative production of anthracite to the end of
November stood at 87,744,000 tons, a figure that has been exceeded but twice during the eleven years for
which records of monthly production are available.
TEXTILES— The situation in the textile field remains practically unchanged from last month. The
mills in the Fifth District are operating practically full time, but they are not receiving sufficient orders
to take their output, buyers awaiting more definite information on the size of this year's cotton crop. In
the face of the buyer’s reluctance in placing orders, the mills have been unable to advance prices for yarn
and cloth in keeping with the rise in raw cotton. Most of the mills that operate on electric power lost one
or two days each week during late October and most of November because of low water in the streams,
and a large number of mills plan to shut down from ten days to two weeks for the Christmas holidays.
November cotton consumption in North Carolina amounted to 111,087 bales, South Carolina mills used
88,618 bales, and Virginia mills consumed 9,694 bales, a total of 209,399 bales for the three states. The
consumption of cotton during November in the Fifth District amounted to 39.4% of the national consump­
tion.




4

COTTON— On December 12th the Department of Agriculture issued its final estimate on this year’s
cotton crop, the figures being 10,081,000 bales, a reduction of 167,000 bales from the estimate issued on
November 2nd. The Department’s final figures were somewhat higher than cotton merchants had come to
expect, but in view of the small carryover in August and the present rate of consumption the crop is a
very short one. In the Fifth District, both Carolinas appear to have raised larger crops than was expected
from earlier estimates, the Department of Agriculture having raised the estimate for North Carolina from
1,010,000 bales on November 2nd to 1,020,000 bales on December 12th and for South Carolina from 740,000 bales on the previous date to 795,000 bales on the latter. The report lowered the estimate for Virginia,
however, from 53,000 bales on November 2nd to 50,000 bales on December 12th. In 1922 North Carolina
produced 852,000 bales, South Carolina 495,000 bales, and Virginia 27,000 bales. The success that many
farmers have had with cotton in Virginia this year, together with the high prices being realized for the
crop, has aroused much interest in cotton growing in the state, and it is likely that the acreage planted to
cotton in Virginia will be larger next year than ever before.
Cotton prices between the middle of November and the middle of December have fluctuated widely,
the market having been exceedingly nervous, but the net movement of prices was upward, the price realized
by the growers during the week ending December 8th being higher than the average price secured during
the week ending November 10th. In our Review last month we traced average prices paid for spot cotton
in the Carolinas through the week ending November 10th, when the average price had reached 31.59 cents
per pound. The week ending November 17th witnessed an average of 32.20 cents, the week ending No­
vember 24th went to 33.26 cents, and the week ending December 1st reached an average of 34.24 cents.
Bearish ginning figures and crop estimates circulated by private authorities during the first week of
December disturbed the market, however, and the price declined to an average of 33.64 cents during the
week ending December 8th, the declining tendency holding over well into the following week. The final
crop estimate of the year and the large volume of buying by both foreign and domestic spinners on all re­
cessions have acted as steadying influences and each downward swing in the market has been followed by
strong rallies.
The Census Bureau’s ginning report to December 1st placed the number of bales ginned at 9,243,917
bales, and traders regarded the figures as bearish, the average of private estimates released ahead of the
official report having been approximately 9,100,000 bales. Ginning to December 1, 1922 was 9,323,000
bales.
Cotton consumed in the United States during November amounted to 531,631 bales, in comparison
with 541,825 bales consumed in October of this year and 577,561 bales consumed in November 1922.
The cotton growing states used 358,718 bales in November, compared with 363,813 bales consumed in
November 1922. The Census Bureau’s report of consumption and stocks on hand, released December 14th,
estimated cotton on hand in consuming establishments on November 30th at 1,438,813 bales compared with
1,724,488 bales on hand a year ago, and cotton in public storage and at compresses 3,770,542 bales in com­
parison with 4,197,955 bales at the end of November 1922. Exports in November totaled 770,002 bales
compared with exports of 858,337 bales in November 1922, and spindles active during November numbered
34,101,452, compared with 34,358,096 in November last year. Imports of cotton totaled 16,564 bales in No­
vember compared with imports of 49,551 bales in November 1922.

TOBACCO— Sales of leaf tobacco during November in Virginia, combining reports from both bright
and dark markets, totaled 20,206,166 pounds, according to reports from auction warehouses to the Com­
missioner of Agriculture. Last year aggregate November sales amounted to 17,003,402 pounds. The
Agricultural Statistician’s report for November estimates that the amount of tobacco turned over to the
Co-operative Tobacco Growers Association during that month probably exceeded the amount sold on the
auction floors. The average price received for bright tobacco during November was $22.75 Per hundred
pounds, compared with $20.34 in October of this year and $30.50 in November 1922. The amount of
bright tobacco sold was 17,467,267 pounds, compared with 13,849,210 pounds sold during the correspond­
ing month last year. Dark tobacco prices compare more favorably with prices paid in recent years than
bright tobacco prices, the average paid for dark during November having been $17.87 per hundred pounds
in comparison with $19.00 per hundred in 1922 and $18.59 *n *921 • The sales of dark tobacco amounted
to 2,738,899 pounds while last year 3,154,192 pounds were sold in November. The quality of the tobacco
sold in November was better than the quality sold in October, but was inferior to that sold in 1922. Ac­
cording to estimates of the warehousemen the sales last month graded 25 percent Good, 34 percent Medium,
and 41 percent Common. Danville led all markets in Virginia in both volume of sales and average price,
selling 9,133,760 pounds at an average of $25.49 per hundred.
I11 his November tobacco sales report, the Agricultural Statistician of the North Carolina Crop Re­
porting Service says, “ With 215,674,000 pounds of the North Carolina farmers’ tobacco already sold by the
auction warehouses before November 30th and with perhaps 60,000,000 pounds delivered to the Co-oper­




5

ative Growers Association, the 375,000,000 pound crop is largely out of the farmers’ hands. The deliveries
to date are 39 per cent more than last year.” Producers’ sales during November totaled 75,810,802 pounds,
compared with 35,465,132 pounds sold during the same month last year. The average price secured in
November was $23.24 per hundred pounds, compared with an average of $30.72 per hundred in 1922.
The quality of the tobacco sold this year has been uniformly lower than a year ago, but the weight produced
per acre was high on account of the larger number of leaves left on the plant and the increased use of
fertilizer, and this increased production in pounds will more than compensate for the decrease in the quality
of the crop. Wilson again leads all markets in the sale of tobacco, having disposed of 14,560,344 pounds
during the month, Winston-Salem ranking second with sales aggregating 10,884,171 pounds. The two
warehouses at Mebane averaged $28.27 per hundred pounds for the tobacco sold, with Farmville a close
second with an average of $28.15 per hundred.

AGRICULTURAL NOTES— “ North Carolina, as, a whole, is closing a most successful agricultural
year,” according to the State Agricultural Statistician in his report of December 13th. The cotton, pea­
nut and tobacco belts have produced excellent crops, and the yields of small grain were unusually good.
Price trends are upward and markets are generally good. The farmers are reported as not borrowing much
money and are saving more than usual. Labor having been scarce and expensive all year, the farmers have
been more active themselves and have done a larger share of their farm work without help. Fall plowing
is more advanced than in average years. Wheat is looking well as a rule, and stands are good, except in
a few of the Piedmont counties. The corn crop is good and the harvest practically completed. Hay crops
were very satisfactory, final yields turning out greater than had been expected during the growing season.
In addition to the usual hays, North Carolina farmers saved the vines from something like 100,000 acres
of peanuts. Corn fodder pulled is estimated at almost 200,000 tons, and the addition of the corn tops
brings the total crop to about 500,000 tons, while nearly 1,000,000 tons of tame hay were cut and cured.
Both apple and peach crops were short, and neither yielded very satisfactory prices. The mountain regions
report good fall truck crops with markets good. Live stock is generally in good condition, but prices for
cattle and hogs are low. On the whole the weather during the past month has been favorable for farm
work, and more stalk land has been plowed to date than for many years. Picking and ginning of cotton
is further advanced than perhaps ever before. On the whole, farm conditions are good for entering the
winter.
In Virginia fall farm work was late in starting because of dry weather, but good seasons in late No­
vember remedied this condition, and farmers have been catching up as rapidly as the scarcity of labor
allows. Much of the farmers’ energy has gone into harvesting and cleaning up this year’s crops, ordering
and marketing tobacco, picking cotton, etc., but fair progress has been made with fall plowing and seeding.
South Carolina farmers suffered from lack of rain during October and part of November, but during
the past three or four weeks showers have been frequent and general, and good progress with seasonal
work has been made. In South Carolina there is considerable interest in diversified farming as a means
of combating the boll weevil, and the “live at home” movement is making many converts. The numerous
county fairs held during the fall indicate that there is much keener interest than in former years in stock
and hog raising, in chicken and egg production, and in the planting of gardens, truck and fruits.
In all of the agricultural sections of the Fifth District the farmers are displaying keen interest in co­
operating marketing associations, especially for cotton and tobacco, and the majority of the members of
these associations are reported to be well pleased with the results they have secured from them. Increased
sales of mules, wagons, farm implements and fertilizer prove that, as a whole, the agricultural population
of the District is better off than in recent years, and some authorities profess to believe that there is more
net profit in this year’s crops than there was in 1918 and 1919.

BUILDING OPERATIONS FOR THE MONTHS OF NOVEMBER, 1923 AND 1922.
Building operations in the leading cities of the Fifth Reserve District, as indicated by reports giving
the number and valuation of permits issued in twenty-five centers, show the usual seasonal decline in
November 1923 in the number of permits issued in comparison with the number issued in October, but
total valuation figures for November exceed those reported for October. In comparison with November
1922, November of this year also shows a decline in the number of permits but an increase in valuation.
The combined reports from the twenty-five cities show permits for new construction issued in November
1923 numbering 1,702, with estimated valuation of $11,748,392, compared with 2,051 permits with total
valuation of $10,823,051 issued in October of this year and 1,807 permits with total valuation of $8,992,587
issued in November 1922. Fourteen of the reporting cities showed higher figures in November than in
November last year, and nine of them reported increases of more than fifty percent. Residence construc­
tion continues to make up the bulk of the new work, but business and industrial buildings are not lacking,
as is indicated by the comparatively high valuation figures. In alteration and repair work, November 1923
exceeded November 1922 in number, 1,938 permits for this class of work having been issued in comparison




6

Permits Issued
CITIES

Repairs

1923 1922

z

Cent
Increase or Perof
Decrease
Increase
Total
or
Valuation
Decrease

Alterations

New Construction
New

1923

1922

1923

1922

1922

1923

Z

MR L N
AYA D

1 Baltimore.............
2 Cumberland.........
3 Frederick..............
V G IA
IR IN
4 Lynchburg............
5 Norfolk.................
6 Richmond.............
7 Roanoke...............
W S V G IA
E T IR IN
8 Bluefield...............
9 Charleston............
10 Clarksburg...........
11 Huntington...........
12 Parkersburg.........
N R HC R L A
O T A O IN
13 Asheville...............
14 Charlotte...............
15 Durham................
16 Greensboro...........
17 High Poijnt...........
18 Raleigh.................
19 Wilmington..........
20 Winston-Salem.
S U HC R L A
O T A O IN
21 Charleston............
22 Columbia..............
23 Greenville.............
24 Spartanburg.........
D T O C L M IA
IS . F O U B
25 Washington..........
Totals

36.2% 1
85.3
2
165.0
3

497
28
8

674
25
5

913
20
4

16
103
126
106

18
27
113
65

22
45
88
20

25
85
90
40

41,651
267,740
878,439
210,960

21,448
230,407
805,979
177,185

6,730
36,260
67,570
4,435

9,865
90,151
88,061
13,555

—

26
43
39
93

14
74
15
128

7
13
25
20

2
25
9
22

63,075
117,240
61,756
541,840
43,000

26,460
329,629
87,220
322,625
80,000

1,425
15,835
11,770
9,450
5,100

8,100
73,815
4,300
7,865
25,000

29,940
— 270,369 —
— 17,994 —
220,800
— 56,900 —

86.6
67.0
19.7
66.8
54.2

8
9
10
11
12

35
57
21
51
59
55
9
70

68
56
27
23
37
42
10
69

68
11
3
15
7
2
4
85

24
7
9
22
5
0
5
82

137,660
359,975
58,500
210,095
157,500
139,603
861,000
194,185

370,733
397,380
80,975
214,825
71,200
112,630
55,000
272,410

17,788
29,825
2,400
4,142
2,025
1,100
9,300
29,402

3,245
26,950
8,825
6,528
9,150
0
7,000
27,080

— 218,530 — 58.4
— 34,530 — 8.1
— 28,900 — 32.2
—
7,116 — 3.2
79,175
98.5
24.9
28,073
808,300 1,303.7
— 75,903 — 25.3

13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20

4
20
34
31

9
24
21
26

15
59
13
21

17
98
11
21

15,700
38,314
81,750
127,276

25,675
73,625
44,950
33,795

7,090
7,125
9,515
6,230

10,795
15,727
3,035
3,425

—
—

21
22
23
24

171

237

458

439

4,121,593

2,925,956

293,268

405,718

1,702 1,807 1,938 1,883 $11,748,392 $ 8,992,587

$1,131,047

836 $ 2,902,920 $ 2,166,000
7
86,870
48,340
2
29,750
18,140

$ 526,770
6,183
20,309

$ 352,200 $
1,880
750

911,490
42,833
31,169

54.5
17,068
16,558 — 5.2
51,969
5.8
24,655
12.9

4
5
6
7

13,680 — 37.5
43,913 — 49.1
43,280
90.2
96,286 258.7
1,083,187

$1,203,020 $ 2,683,832

32.5

25

26.3%

with 1,883 in November last year, but the valuation of the work was slightly higher in November 1922.
Combined valuation for both new work and alterations or repairs totaled $12,879,439 in November 1923,
compared with a total of $10,195,607 in November 1922, an increase this year of 26.3 percent.
Types of construction work not included in the building permit records, such as suburban develop­
ments, sewer laying, road and bridge building, etc., continue to be planned and started, and contractors
are busy making plans for next spring’s activities. Costs of construction are high, and labor is also scarce,
but these unfavorable elements do not appear to be exerting any very material influence in construction fields.
Present rent levels would seem to prove that the shortage of homes has not nearly been caught up, and a
more enlightened sentiment toward road improvement is acting as a stimulant to work in that field.

WHOLESALE TRADE
Percentage Increase (or Decrease) in Net Sales During Nov., 1923, as Compared With Oct., 1923
and Nov., 1922.
Groceries

Dry Goods

Number of reporting firms in each line............

44

15

Net sales (selling price) during Nov., 1923,
compared with Oct, 1923..............................

— 5.7

—24.1

—25.1

—14.7

—22.2

— 8.0

Net sales (selling price) during Nov., 1923,
compared with Nov, 1922................................

13.3

4.5

—20.2

2.7

19.6

5.4

Shoes
14

Hardware
17

Furniture
7

Drugs
13

—Denotes decrease.

Reports received this month from one hundred and ten wholesale firms selling groceries, dry goods,
shoes, hardware, furniture and drugs show distinct declines in the volume of business done in November
in comparison with October, all of the six lines showing recessions. This slackening in business is usual




7

at this season of the year, however, and is therefore of no special importance. As is almost always the
case, dry goods and shoes show the greatest decline in comparison with the previous month, and groceries
show the least variation. Part of the declines in hardware and furniture are due to unseasonably high
figures reported for October rather than to any noteworthy slump in November.
In comparison with sales in November 1922, sales in November this year were greater in all lines re­
ported upon except shoes, in which a decline of 20.2% is reported during November 1923. Furniture
shows the largest increase this year, 19.6% , with a gain of 13.3% in grocery sales ranking second.
Collections were somewhat slower in November than in October, which in the light of previous records
appears to be a seasonal development. In addition, the unsatisfactory conditions existing in the coal fields
have tended to make collections in West Virginia especially slow. For November one hundred and nine
firms classified their collections as Good, Fair, Slow or Poor, and of these firms 88.1 % classed them as
either Good or Fair in comparison with 90.1% so classified in October and 89.5% in November 1922.
For comparative purposes we show below in detail the classification made in November, together with the
totals reported in October, September, August and July of this year and November of last year.
Collections Reported As
Lines
Good
Fair
Slow
Poor
Total
19
5
2
44
Groceries.......................................................... ................. 18
Dry Goods ........................................................................ 3
9
3
o
15
Shoes............................ ..................................................... 3
10
1
o
14
Hardware .......................................................................... 8
7
2
o
17
Furniture ......................................................................... 2
5
0
0
7
Drugs ................................................................................ 5__________ 2
._________ 2_________2__________ 12
November 1923 Totals........................................ 39
57
11
2
109
October 1923 Totals............................................ 41
59
11
o
111
75
8
3
113
September 1923 Totals.......................................... 27
August 1923 Totals............................................. .. 28
70
15
1
114
July 1923 Totals.................................................... 20
76
16
1
113
November 19522 Totals........................................ 26
85
13
o
124

FIGURES ON RETAIL TRADE
As Indicated By Reports from Twenty-seven Representative Department Stores
for the Month of November, 1923.
Baltimore

Richmond

Washington

Other
Cities

District

Percentage increase in net sales during
Nov., 1923, compared with Nov., 1922..........

1.1

12.0

5.1

6.2

4.2

Percentage increase in net sales from
July 1, through Nov. 30, compared
with sales during the same five months
of 1922...............................................................

2.8

18.1

6.6

9.6

6.5

Percentage increase in net sales during Nov.
1923, compared with average sales during
the corresponding month of 1920,1921 and
1922.................................................................

0.5

17.3

0.4

0.3

2.2

Percentage increase in stocks on hand at
the end of Nov., 1923, over stocks on
hand at the end of Nov., 1922.......................

7.2

29.5

3.3

22.0

9.6

1.2

6.5

0.8

2.3

0.8

Percentage of average stocks on hand at
the end of each month since July 1,
to average net sales each month during
the same period, five months.......................

422.8

385.4

434.8

549.2

438.4

Percentage of outstanding orders at the end
of Nov., 1923, to total purchases of
merchandise during the year 1922................

4.4

5.4

6.0

6.5

5.4

Percentage increase in stocks on hand at
the end of Nov., 1923, over stocks on
hand at the end of Oct, 1923..— ..............

—

—Denotes Decrease.

Retail sales during November 1923, as reflected in the dollar value of business done in twenty-seven




8

leading department stores in the Fifth Reserve District, amounted to 4.2% more than the business done
in November last year, but declined 3.4% from the volume of business done in October this year. Shop­
ping for Christmas is always heavier in November than in October, but during October more buying of
fall clothing is done as a rule than in November. The reporting stores in Richmond gained 12.0% in
sales during November over sales in November 1922, the group of Other Cities gained 6.2%, the Wash­
ington stores gained 5. 1 %, and the Baltimore stores gained 1 . 1 % . In comparison with cumulative sales
during the five months from July 1st through November 30, 1922, this year the reporting stores show a
gain of 6.5% during the corresponding five months, Richmond leading with a gain of 1 8. 1 % and the
Other Cities ranking second with an increase of 9.6%. Richmond’s large increase is perhaps partly ac­
counted for by store expansion, and the gain by the Other Cities reflects the improved financial con­
dition of the farmers, most of the cities in this group deriving a considerable part of their business from
rural sections.
Stocks on hand in the reporting stores, at selling values, were 9.6% greater at the end of November
than at the end of November 1922, and had increased 0.8% during the past month. In the rate of stock
turnover during the past five months, Richmond reports show the best record, the percentage of average
stock on hand at the end of each month since July 1st to average net sales during each of the five months
since that date being 385.4%, compared with an average of 422.8% in Baltimore, 434.8% in Washing­
ton, 549.2% in the Other Cities, and an average of 438.4% for the District. The rate of turnover has
been more rapid in Washington during the second half of this year than in 1922, but in Richmond, Bal­
timore and the Other Cities the turnover has been slower this year.
Comments made by the reporting retailers indicate that buying of Christmas merchandise is excel­
lent, but buying of staples is slow, and has been so the entire fall, the weather having been too mild to
stimulate the normal amount of fall purchases. Holiday shopping has been done earlier this year, per­
haps, than in average years, especially in Richmond where Christmas savings clubs were paid off ten days
earlier than in previous years.




(Compiled December 18. 1923)
9

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

Production of basic commodities and factory employment decreased in November. Distribution of mer­
chandise by wholesalers and retailers was somewhat less active, and wholesale prices showed a slight further
reduction.

PRODUCTION. Production in basic industries decreased about two per cent in November. The decline
was due chiefly to reduced production in iron and steel, and smaller sugar meltings. The Federal Reserve
Board’s new index of factory employment, which is shown by the accompanying chart, also declined, due to
lessened activity at iron and steel plants and large seasonal reductions at clothing establishments. The vol­
ume of employment is now two per cent smaller than in the spring but three per cent larger than a year ago.
Contract awards for new buildings were smaller in November than in October in all reporting Districts
except New York but were twenty per cent larger than a year ago. Final estimates by the Department of
Agriculture show larger yields of corn, oats, tobacco and cotton than in 1922, but smaller yields of wheat,
hay and potatoes. The total value of agricultural production at December 1st prices was twelve per cent
larger than in 1922. Each of the ten principal crops except wheat showed an increase in value.
TRADE. Railroad freight shipments in November showed about the usual seasonal decline from Oc­
tober but were in heavier volume as compared with previous years. Wholesale trade was thirteen per cent
less in November than in October, which is more than the usual decrease at this season, but sales con­
tinued to be slightly larger than a year ago. Sales of hardware, drugs and meat were larger than in November
1922, while sales of shoes were smaller. Retail business was smaller than in October in most lines. Sales
of mail order houses declined more than sales of department stores but were eleven per cent larger than a
year ago.
PRICES. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ index of wholesale prices declined in November to a point
four per cent lower than last spring and about three per cent lower than a year ago, the chief reduction
occurring in prices of animal products, fuel and house furnishings. Prices of clothing and the crops, on the
other hand, increased and the latter group averaged higher than in any month since 1920. During the first
half of December prices of sheep, beef, sugar, cotton, silk and lumber declined, while quotations on crude oil,
wheat and wool were slightly higher.
BANK CREDIT. The total volume of credit extended by member banks in leading cities shows but
little change between the middle of November and the middle of December. A seasonal reduction in commer­
cial and agricultural loans in most Districts was accompanied by increased loans on securities, with the result
that total loans remained practically constant. During the same period borrowings at the Federal Reserve
Banks were also practically unchanged. Holdings of Acceptances increased somewhat, partly in connection
with the financing of cotton exports. The increased demands for currency for holiday trade was reflected
in both a moderate expansion in Federal Reserve note circulation and a reduction in Gold Certificates held
by the Reserve Banks. Rates of commercial paper sold in the open market continued to show an easier ten­
dency, as indicated by increased sales at 4 ^ per cent, particularly in interior Districts. The December issues
of one year 4% per cent and six months 4 per cent Treasury Certificates, compared with 4% per cent on a
six months issue sold in September, were largely oversubscribed.




10




11




FIFTH
FEDERAL RESERVE
DISTRICT

Reserve Bank in Richmond^
Branch Bank in Baltimore

Shaded area in Weet Virginia is in the Fourth District

12