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MONTHLY REVIEW
CREDIT, BUSINESS AND AGRICULTURAL CONDITIONS

WILLIAM W. HOXTON,

C h a irm a n a n d F e d e r a l R e s e r v e A g e n t

FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF RICHMOND

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA___________________________________________DECEMBER 31, 1931
has not closed as
N INETEEN THIRTY-ONE statistics cannot be
this is written, and annual
given until next month, but mention can be made of
some general tendencies and influences which were at
work this year. Business in the Fifth Federal reserve
district, which contains Maryland, Virginia, West Vir­
ginia, the two Carolinas and the District of Columbia,
has been below seasonal level throughout 1931, and
this condition was increasingly evident during the fall
months when it became clear that there would be less
liquidation of indebtedness in the closing months of
the year than usually occurs. In addition to generally
depressed business more or less world wide in scope,
there were a few special influences at work in the dis­
trict. The severe drought of 1930 and low prices for
the district’s cash crops made it impossible for the
farmers to liquidate their indebtedness on last year’s
operations, and therefore they began the current year
under a handicap. In 1931, weather was excellent on
the whole and good yields of nearly all cro p resulted,
but this advantage was offset when 1931 prices for the
leading agricultural products fell far below even the
poor prices of 1930. For the second year in succes­
sion farm income was reduced and as a consequence
demand for goods in rural areas was smaller. Bank
suspensions were more numerous in this district than
in previous years and a substantial volume of deposits
was tied up in closed banks. Bankruptcies also in­
creased among individuals and business firms.
Looking specifically at developments of the past
month, rediscounts held by the Federal Reserve Bank
of Richmond declined somewhat between the middle
of November and the middle of December, which is
usual at this season, but the circulation of Federal re­
serve notes also declined during the same period, which
is not a customary development at the time when the
demand for cash for holiday shopping is expected to
increase note circulation. Reporting member banks
showed some seasonal reduction in loans in the past
month, and deposits declined also, somewhat more
than is accounted for by the reduction in loans. Debits
to individual, firm and corporation accounts showed
about the normal rise in the four weeks ended De­
cember 9, 1931, in comparison with debits in the pre­
ceding four weeks this year, but were nearly 20 per




cent less than in the corresponding four weeks ended
December 10, 1930. Commercial failures in the Fifth
district in November were relatively more numerous
than the average for the United States, and in liabili­
ties involved the district record was also unfavorable.
Employment conditions showed no material change last
month. Coal production is materially below the rate
of production a year ago, reflecting slackened demand
from industrial consumers and railroads. The textile
industry compares favorably with the schedule of op­
erations a year ago, being one of the few industries
which made some gains in 1931. Prices of agricul­
tural products in several cases declined further in late
November and early December. Building permits is­
sued in November in leading cities of the Fifth dis­
trict were very low in estimated valuation, and contracts
actually awarded for construction work reached a rela­
tively low total. Retail trade in November was not
up to seasonal level in comparison with earlier months
this year, and was materially less in dollar amount than
trade in November 1930. Wholesale trade was also
poor in November, both in comparison with trade in
October this year and in November last year.

Reserve Bank Statement
ITEMS

Dec. 15
1931

000 omitted
Nov. 15 Dec. 15
1931
1930

Rediscounts held __________ $ 36,081 $ 41,042 $ 37,039
11,528
16,150
11,796
Open market paper-------------25,025
27,406
12,261
Government securities ______
700
0
Other earning assets________
700
85,298
61,096
Total earning assets---------73,334
99,046 101,770 106,241
Circulation of Fed. Res. notes..
60,578
54,251
Members’ reserve deposits-----55,381
94,124
86,607 119,028
Cash reserves ____________ _
52.28
Reserve ratio ___________ j....
71.11
58.86

Rediscounts for member banks held by the Federal
Reserve Bank of Richmond decreased $4,961,000 be­
tween the middle of November and the middle of De­
cember. A moderate decrease at this time of year is
a seasonal development, there being comparatively lit­
tle demand for loans from either agricultural or mer­
cantile borrowers. The reserve bank reduced its port­
folio of open market paper by $4,622,000 last month,

MONTHLY REVIEW

2

Most of the changes during the past month in the
and also reduced its holdings of Government securi­
ties by $2,381,000. These changes lowered the total combined statement of the fifty reporting member
earning assets of the Richmond bank by $11,964,000 banks were seasonal in character. Between Novem­
between November IS and December 15. Circulation ber 11 and December 9, both this year, loans by these
of Federal reserve notes declined $2,724,000 last banks decreased $8,176,000, all of which was in agri­
month, an unseasonal decrease when holiday currency cultural and commercial loans. Total investments in
needs normally increase the reserve bank’s circulation. bonds and securities also declined, by $1,045,000, and
Member bank reserve deposits rose $1,130,000 between aggregate reserve balances of the reporting institu­
November 15 and December 15. The several changes tions at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond de­
in the statement enumerated, with others of less im­ creased by $1,751,000. Cash in vaults declined $2,portance, raised the cash reserves of the Richmond 113,000 during the past month. Between November
bank by $7,517,000 during the past month, and also 11 and December 9, deposits in the reporting banks
raised the ratio of reserves to note and deposit liabili­ declined a total of $11,531,000, demand deposits de­
creasing $5,096,000 and time deposits dropping $6,ties combined by 6.58 points.
A comparison of the figures on the statement for 435,000. The several changes mentioned enabled the
December 15, 1931, with the figures for December 15, banks to reduce their borrowing at the reserve bank
1930, shows an increase of $12,238,000 in the bank’s by $1,791,000 during the past month. Twenty-eight
total earning asets this year, due to an increase of of the fifty reporting banks were borrowing at the
$12,764,000 in holdings of Government securities. reserve bank on December 9, compared with thirty
There was also an increase of $700,000 in miscel­ banks which were borrowing on November 11.
Condition figures for December 9, 1931, show some
laneous earning assets, but rediscounts held declined
by $958,000 and the portfolio of open market paper marked changes when compared with corresponding
decreased by $268,000 during the year. Federal re­ figures for December 10, 1930. Loans and discounts
serve notes in circulation on December 15 this year decreased $82,614,000 during the year, loans on stocks
totaled $7,195,000 less than notes in circulation a year and bonds declining $26,982,000 and all other loans
earlier, and member bank reserve deposits at the Fed­ declining $55,632,000. On the other hand, the fifty
eral Reserve Bank of Richmond declined by $5,197,- reporting banks increased their investments in bonds
000 during the year. Lower circulation figures this and securities by $54,622,000 during the year, and
year are partly due to unusually high figures in De­ cash in vaults also rose by $1,380,000. Partly as a
cember 1930, when several serious bank failures had result of the decline in loans previously mentioned,
caused member banks to accumulate currency in their deposits in the reporting banks dropped $47,523,000
vaults. The reduction in member bank reserve de­ between December 10, 1930, and December 9, 1931,
posits this year is due in part to lower deposits against demand deposits decreasing $33,917,000 and time de­
which reserves are carried. These changes in the posits declining $13,606,000. Lower deposits this year
statement, with others, resulted in a decrease of $24,- caused a decrease of $2,884,000 in reserve balances
904,000 in the Richmond bank’s cash reserves, and a carried by the reporting institutions at the reserve
decline of 12.25 points in the ratio of cash reserves bank. On December 9 this year the banks included in
the list were borrowing $2,473,000 more from the
to note and deposit liabilities combined.
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond than they were
borrowing on December 10, 1930.
Member Bank Statement
ITEMS

Dec. 9
1931

000 omitted
Nov. 11 Dec. 10
1931
1930

Loans on stocks and bonds (in­
cluding Governments) ------- $144,415 $144,155 $171,397
233,640 242,076 289,272
All other loans-----------------378,055 386,231 460,669
Total loans and discounts—
182,401
Investments in stocks & bonds.. 237,023 238,068
37,234
38,367
Reserve bal. with F. R. Bank....
35,483
14,058
15,438
17,551
Cash in vaults-------------------Demand deposits ---------------- 310,958 316,054 344,875
Time deposits -------------------- 231,769 238,204 245,375
14,042
Borrowed from F. R. Bank—
18.306
16,515

The accompanying table shows the principle items
of condition of fifty regularly reporting member banks
in the Fifth reserve district as of three dates, thus
affording an opportunity for comparison of the latest
available figures with those of the corresponding dates
a month and a year earlier. It should be understood
that the figures in the table reflect conditions as of the
report dates only, and are not necessarily the highest
or lowest figures that occurred during the interval
between the dates.




Debits to Individual Accounts

Debits to individual, firm and corporation accounts
figures in the table, reported for three equal periods
of four weeks each by clearing house banks in twentyfour leading Fifth district cities, show the usual in­
crease during the period ended December 9, in com­
parison with the four weeks ended November 11. Ag­
gregate debits in the reporting cities totaled $973,378,000 during the four weeks ended December 9, an in­
crease of $20,768,000, or 2.2 per cent, over the total
of $952,610,000 reported for the preceding period this
year. Among the twenty-four reporting cities, nine
failed to show the seasonal increase. Portsmouth
showed the greatest percentage increase, 27.7 per cent,
Roanoke ranking second with an increase of 13.7 per
cent. Richmond gained 5.1 per cent during the later
period, but Baltimore and Washington figures both
declined a small fraction of 1 per cent.
In comparison with debits totaling $1,206,528,000
reported for the four weeks ended December 10, 1930,
the total for the corresponding four weeks this year
showed a decrease of $233,150,000, or 19.3 per cent.
A part of the reduction is due to lower price levels in

MONTHLY REVIEW
CITIES

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. --------Portsmouth, Va.........
Raleigh, N. C.-------Richmond, Va............
Roanoke, Va...............
Spartanburg, S. C.—
Washington, D. C.—
Wilmington, N. C.—
Winston-Salem, N. C
District Totals

000 omitted
Total debits, four weeks ended
Dec. 10,
Nov. 11,
Dec. 9,
1930
1931
1931
$

13,044
414,943
18,858
37,394
43,223
23,241
8,445
10,732
26,030
19,415
16,520
8,510
19,494
17,448
12,217
51,679
5,426

10,596
294,807
8,300
33,976
37,111
19,572
6,551
7,827
23,661
17,178
13,467
6,061
13,912
14,323
9,726
43,886
5,165
22,674
116,161
25,709
8,384
199,412
8,774
26,145

10,160
295,590
11,562
32,651
34,734
18,127
6,865
7,877
22,790
15.815
13,951
5,923
12,659
13,849
9,008
38,859
3,732
20,033
110,202

22,182
8,520
199,433
10,230
27,858

138,411
30,641
11,763
214,474
12,262
32,237

$ 973,378

$ 952,610

$1,206,528

20,121

some lines this year, but a generally lower level of
business activity probably accounted for most of the
decline. Only one city reported a higher figure for
the 1931 period, Raleigh reporting a gain of 12.7 per
cent. The three largest cities reported materially lower
figures this year, Baltimore declining 29.0 per cent,
Richmond declining 16.1 per cent, and Washington
declining 7.0 per cent.

Savings and Time Deposits
Twelve mutual savings banks in Baltimore reported
total deposits at the close of business November 30,
1931, amounting to $212,948,740, a slightly lower fig­
ure than $213,710,081 of deposits at the end of Oc­
tober this year but a higher figure than $198,623,483
reported for November 30, 1930. Time deposits in
fifty regularly reporting member banks totaled $231,769,000 on December 9, 1931, in comparison with time
deposits aggregating $238,204,000 on November 11
this year and $245,375,000 on December 10, 1930.
Some decline in savings and time deposits occurs^ in
most years during November and December, due chiefs
ly to withdrawals for holiday shopping, but the de­
crease reported for member banks between November
11 and December 9 was somewhat larger than usual.

Commercial Failures
The commercial failure figures of the Fifth reserve
district in November compared unfavorably with total
figures for the United States. Bankruptcies number­
ing 139 in the district, with aggregate liabilities of
$2,570,911, showed increases of 14.9 per cent over 121
failures and of 49.6 per cent over liabilities totaling
$1,718,380 reported for November 1930. The United
States figures showed increases of 8.1 per cent in




3

number of insolvencies and 9.8 per cent in aggregate
liabilities. Ten of the twelve reserve districts reported
more failures in November 1931 than in 1930, the
Kansas City and San Francisco districts showing the
only decreases in failures, while in liabilities involved
the districts divided evenly, six reporting higher and
six reporting lower figures for the 1931 month. Tlie
Kansas City district made the best record last month
with a decrease of 70.5 per cent in liabilities, and the
Chicago district made the worst record with an in­
crease of 193.4 per cent.

Employment
There were no developments of material importance
in labor circles during the past month. Virginia high­
way contractors instituted a stagger system of em­
ployment for unskilled workers, and thereby gave work
to some hundreds of additional laborers, but this plan
does not increase total wages paid to the workers.
Weather has been unusually favorable for outside work
this fall, and apparently there have been not quite as
many seasonal additions to the ranks of the unem­
ployed as might have been expected. The mild wea­
ther has also decreased the need for fuel and heavy
clothing for the people who are unable to secure work.
In spite of these favorable influences, however, the
situation continues serious, with more people out of
work than at any other time in a number of years.
Calls for assistance at charitable organizations and
governmental relief agencies are expected to be much
more numerous during the winter than in any recent
year.

Coal Production
Bituminous coal mines in the United States dug
30,110,000 net tons of coal in November this year, a
decrease from 35,700,000 tons mined in the longer
month of October 1931 and also less than 38,609,000
tons mined in November 1930. Total output of bi­
tuminous coal in the United States during the present
calendar year to December 12 (approximately 292
working days) amounts to 360,943,000 net tons, com­
pared with 483,404,000 tons mined to the same date
last year and 507,838,000 tons in 1929. Shipments
of coal through Hampton Roads in November totaled
approximately 1,578,144 tons, and total shipments
from January 1 through November 30 totaled 18,632,462 tons.
The November 28 report of the Bureau of Mines,
Department of Commerce, gave bituminous coal pro­
duction by states for the month of October 1931. West
Virginia led all states with 9,990,000 net tons, Penn­
sylvania ranking second with 8,336,000 tons and Illi­
nois third with 4,200,000 tons. West Virginia's pro­
duction in October was only 10.3 per cent below Oc­
tober 1930 figures, while Pennsylvania output declined
27.1 per cent in October this year.

Textiles
Textile mills in the Fifth district continued opera­
tions in November on about the same schedule as in
October, but there was an increase in cotton consump­
tion in comparison with the month of November 1930.

4

MONTHLY REVIEW

In November 1931, mills in North Carolina used 110,604 bales of cotton, South Carolina mills used 92,441
bales, and Virginia mills used 9,839 bales, a district
total of 212,8M bales, compared with 221,330 bales
consumed in the district in the longer month of Oc­
tober 1931 and 191,245 bales used in November 1930.
The district decrease of 3.82 per cent in cotton used
in November in comparison with October was less
than the National decrease of 7.18 per cent, and the
increase last month in the district over consumption in
November 1931 amounting to 11.3 per cent was larger
than the National increase of 3.26 per cent. Con­
sumption of cotton in the Richmond reserve district in
November this year totaled 49.64 per cent of National
consumption, compared with 47.90 per cent in Oc­
tober 1931 and 46.05 per cent in November 1930.

Cotton Statistics

Between November 13 and December 11, spot cot­
ton prices on ten Southern markets were lower than
in the preceding month. On November 13 the aver­
age price for middling grade short staple cotton was
6.06 cents per pound, but on November 20 the aver­
age price had dropped to 5.75 cents and continued
downward to 5.65 cents on November 27. The price
advanced slightly in December, averaging 5.70 cents
on December 4 and 5.77 cents on December 11, the
latest date for which figures are available.
Condition figures in the Department of Agriculture’s
final report of the year, issued on December 8, esti­
mated this year’s production of cotton as 16,918,000
bales of 500 pounds gross weight, the second largest
yield on record. The crop estimate shows an increase
of 15,000 bales over the November 1 forecast and is
2.986.000 bales above final ginning figures on the 1930
crop, in spite of a reduction in acreage this year
amounting to about 10 per cent. The report stated
that final ginning figures for this season would depend
upon whether the various factors were favorable for
picking the part of the crop still in the fields. The
production estimate for the Fifth district was raised
above the November 1 figure, the increase occurring
in South Carolina. North Carolina’s probable pro­
duction for 1931 was given in the latest estimate as
775.000 bales, a lower figure than 800,000 bales fore­
cast a month earlier and exactly the same as the crop
of 1930. South Carolina’s forecast of 1,015,000 bales
shows an increase over 990,000 bales predicted a month
earlier, and is larger than final ginnings of 1,001,000
bales last year. The Virginia yield for 1931 is 43,000
bales, compared with 42,000 bales expected on No­
vember 1 and 42,000 bales grown last year. Total
production in the Fifth district is therefore expected
to be about 15,000 bales larger this year than in 1930,
although acreage was reduced about 15 per cent in
the district this year. In spite of the larger yield this
year, prices have been so much lower that "the total
receipts from cotton in the Fifth district will be ap­
proximately 40 per cent less this year than for the
shorter crop of 1930, calculations being based on De­
cember 1 spot prices.
Ginning figures to December 1, released by the Cen­
sus Bureau on December 8, showed 15,023,451 bales
ginned from this year’s crop, compared with 12,834,-




970 bales of last year’s crop ginned before December.
Cotton consumption in American mills in November
totaled 428,870 bales, according to the report of the
Census Bureau released on December 14. This figure
shows a decrease from 462,025 bales consumed during
the longer month of October this year, but is approx­
imately 3.3 per cent above 415,315 bales consumed in
November 1930. Total consumption during the four
months of the present cotton year amounted to 1,780,418 bales, compared with 1,604,615 bales consumed
during the four months ended November 30, 1930.
Cotton on hand at manufacturing establishments on
November 30 this year totaled 1,441,165 bales, com­
pared with 1,115,793 bales held on October 31 this
year and 1,564,011 bales held on November 30 last
year. Bales in public warehouses and compresses
numbered 10,695,797 at the end of November, 9,449,987 at the end of October, and 8,397,549 on November
30, 1930. Exports of cotton totaled 1,070,643 bales in
November, compared with 1,014,180 bales sent abroad
in October this year and 907,649 bales in November
1930. Total exports during the four months of the
present cotton year—August 1-November 30, inclusive
—totaled 2,854,045 bales, a lower figure than 3,180,761 bales shipped over seas during the corresponding
four months last year. Spindles active at some time
during November numbered 24,860,684, compared with
25,188,112 in October this year and 25,796,748 in No­
vember 1930.
Cotton growing states consumed 358,942 bales in
November, compared with 333,278 bales used in No­
vember last year. Last month’s consumption in the
cotton growing states amounted to 83.69 per cent of
National consumption, compared with 80.25 per cent
of National consumption used in the cotton growing
states in November last year. Of the 358,942 bales
of cotton consumed in the cotton growing states in
November, the Fifth district mills used 212,884 bales,
or 59.31 per cent, a higher figure than 57.38 per cent
of Southern consumption attained by Fifth district
mills in November last year.

Tobacco Marketing
South Carolina tobacco markets sold 2,937,888
pounds of producers’ tobacco in November, only two
markets being open. All markets in South Carolina
closed before December, and total sales were 65,185,796 pounds, at an average price of $9,144 per hundred
pounds. The same markets sold 77,017,302 pounds
in 1930, at an average price of $12,033 per hundred
pounds. A smaller yield and lower prices this year
resulted in a decrease of $3,307,041 in receipts from
1931 sales in comparison with receipts in 1930.
North Carolina auction markets sold 115,520,271
pounds of producers’ tobacco in November 1931, at an
average price of $8.81 per hundred pounds, compared
with 141,608,883 pounds sold for growers in Novem­
ber 1930, at $13.92 per hundred pounds. Total sales
this season on North Carolina markets reached 357,222,099 pounds, compared with 415,481,856 pounds
sold on the same markets prior to December 1, 1930.
Last month Wilson led in sales with 16,111,437 pounds,
but Greenville was a close second with sales totaling
15,692,830 pounds. Mebane led all North Carolina

MONTHLY REVIEW
markets in average price paid in November with $11.02
er hundred pounds, Durham ranking second with
10.38 and Oxford third with $9.92 per hundred. In
season sales Greenville reports 48,741,256 pounds, Wil­
son being second with 47,183,278 pounds.
Virginia tobacco markets sold 24,636,155 pounds of
growers’ tobacco in November 1931, compared with
35,172,540 pounds sold in November last year, ac­
cording to reports by warehousemen to the Commis­
sioner of Agriculture. The average price of all types
sold during November was $7.96 per hundred pounds,
compared with $9.14 for the corresponding month last
year. Flue-cured sales amounted to 23,022,970 pounds,
with an average of $8.16 per hundred pounds, com­
pared with 30,261,415 pounds sold in November last
year for an average of $9.35 per hundred. Fire-cured
sales last month amounted to 1,512,733 pounds with
an average of $4.90 per hundred pounds, compared
with 4,682,650 pounds sold in November 1930 at an
average of $7.90 per hundred. Sun-cured sales
amounted to 100,452 pounds, at $5.23 per hundred,
compared with 228,475 pounds sold in November last
year at an average of $7.00 per hundred. Danville
led in sales last month with 11,540,146 pounds, and
Danville also led in average price paid with $9.10 per
hundred pounds. Warehousemen estimated that the
quality of all sales during the month graded 16 per
cent good, 38 per cent medium, and 46 per cent com­
mon, compared with 12 per cent good, 27 per cent
medium, and 61 per cent common for November 1930.

?

Agricultural Notes

Farm work for 1931 has been completed except for
some late harvesting, but final figures on crop produc­
tion are not yet available. In the next issue of this
Review a table will be printed, containing production
figures for the leading crops of the Fifth district for
1931, 1930 and 1929.
In contrast to 1930, which was one of the poorest
years on record for farming because of the very severe
drought, 1931 conditions were excellent for nearly all
crops, and large per acre yields were made. In the
district’s chief money crops, cotton and tobacco, acre­
ages were materially reduced this year, but unusually
favorable weather produced a larger cotton crop than
that of 1930. Both cotton and tobacco prices were
lower this year than in any recent year, and many other
farm products were sold at low prices. As a result,
the Department of Agriculture estimates the total
value of 1931 crops in the Fifth district as $352,113,000, a decrease of 27 per cent under $483,051,000 for
the short crops of 1930 and 46 per cent below $649,480,000 for 1929 crops. Farmers in the district raised
large feed and food crops this year, and are therefore
in better position to live at home than they were last
year, in spite of the lower cash returns on this year’s
operations.




5

Building Permits Issued, Fifth District Cities,
November 1931 and 1930
CITIES

Permits Issued
1931
1930

Baltimore, Md.
1,025
Cumberland, Md........
10
Frederick, Md............
11
Hagerstown, Md.......
9
Salisbury, Md............
13
Danville, Va..............
8
Lynchburg, Va.
28
Norfolk, Va..............
119
Petersburg, Va...........
5
Portsmouth, Va.
37
Richmond, Va............ 103
Roanoke, Va..............
43
Bluefield, W. Va.
2
Charleston, W. Va....
45
Clarksburg, W. Va_
18
Huntington, W. Va...
29
Asheville, N. C____
24
Charlotte, N. C...
36
Durham, N. C. ..
8
Greensboro, N. C
37
High Point, N. C
16
Raleigh, N. C.___....
18
Rocky Mount, N. C...
11
Salisbury, N. C.____
4
Wilmington, N. C, ..
17
Winston-Salem, N. C.
48
Charleston, S. C
33
Columbia, S. C.____
46
Greenville, S. C..„
15
Rock Hill, S. C
10
Spartanburg, S. C....
14
Washington, D. C
496
Totals __________1 2,338
i

1,082
11
15
20
25
5
31
132
8
25
98
32
7
35
20
14
31
64
17
31
11
18
9
4
18
64
41
34
22
10
19
418
2,371

Total Valuation
1931
1930
$1,772,040 $1,946,160
23,540
3,370
5,726
12,347
6,155
26,340
6,200
20,150
23,982
16,740
25,302
332,375
117,225
321,691
31,253
13,500
23,239
20,050
115,485
448,649
57,672
33,217
2,595
7,910
41,377
332,585
8,888
19,217
33,795
19,830
20,185
7,390
115,513
158,753
21,675
191,679
79,415
31,065
17,590
17,360
240,624
21,838
11,510
3,245
6,600
7,280
18,800
10,700
21,353
32,591
18,789
240,725
73,102
115,980
18,665
35,480
8,475
3,530
5,425
14,177
1,197,510 1,477,220
$4,122,775 $5,990,074

Building inspectors in thirty-two Fifth district cities
issued 2,338 permits in November this year, compared
with 2,371 permits issued in November last year. Es­
timated valuation figures last month totaled $4,122,775, a decrease of 31.2 per cent in comparison with
$5,990,074 valuation for November 1930. Nine of
the thirty-two cities reported higher valuation figures
for the 1931 month, Raleigh making the best record
of the month in proportion to population.
Contracts awarded in November for construction
work in the Fifth district, including both rural and
urban projects, totaled $19,644,097, compared with
$15,067,295 awarded in November 1930 and $22,870,261 in November 1929, according to figures col­
lected by the F. W. Dodge Corporation. Of the
awards in November this year, $3,791,522 was for
residential work, compared with $3,721,005 for this
type of work in 1930.

6

Retail Trade, 34 Department Stores

Richmond Baltimore Washington Other Cit.

MONTHLY REVIEW
District

November 1931 sales, compared with sales in November 1930:
—15.8
—15.3
— 9.9
—157
—13.4
Jan.-November 1931 sales, compared with Tan.-November 1930:
8.3
— 7.3
— 1.0
—13.7
— 5.7
Nov. 30, 1931, stock, compared with stock on Nov. 30, 1930:
—13.4
—12.9
— 4.5
—15.9
—10.3
Nov. 30, 1931, stock, compared with stock on O ct 31, 1931:
+ .9
— 1.7
+ 5.9
+ 2.7
+ 1.9
Number of times stock was turned in November 1931:
285
.315
.306
211
296
No. times stock was turned between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, 1931:
3.373
3.404
3.567
2.425
3.335
Percentage of Nov. 1, 1931, receivables collected in November:
29.6
24.3
30.8
27.3
27.3

Department store trade in November in the Fifth
Federal reserve district was not up to seasonal level,
and averaged 13.4 per cent less in dollars than sales in
November 1930, according to reports from thirty-four
leading stores in thirteen cities. Only one of the re­
porting stores showed larger sales in November this
year than in November last year, and that was due to
a special Anniversary sale. Washington stores as a
whole reported smaller declines in sales last month
than stores in other sections, due probably to the stead­
ier employment conditions in the District of Columbia
than elsewhere in the district. Cumulative sales in the
first eleven months of 1931 totaled 5.7 per cent less
than sales in the corresponding period of 1930.
Stocks of goods on the shelves of the reporting
stores showed a seasonal increase during November,
but at the end of the month were 10.3 per cent less than
stocks on hand on November 30, 1930, part of this
decrease being due to lower prices in many lines this
year. The reporting stores turned their stocks .296
times in November, a lower figure than usual, but be­
tween January 1 and November 30 the average rate
of turnover was 3.335 times, a higher figure than 3.041
and 2.969 times stock was turned in the corresponding
eleven months in 1930 and 1929, respectively.
Collections during November averaged 27.3 per cent
of receivables outstanding on November 1, a lower
figure than 28.3 per cent reported for both October
1931 and November 1930. The slowness of collections
was felt throughout the entire district.




W holesale Trade, 64 Firms
23 #

9

Groceries Dry Goods

6

Shoes

14

Hardware

12

Drugs

November 1931 sales, compared with sales in November 1930:
—152
—19.4
* 17.8
—
—15.3
—11.7
November 1931 sales, compared with sales in October 1931:
—10.0
—22.0
—282
—15.1
—10.4
Jan.-Nov. 1931 sales, compared with Jan.-Nov. 1930 sales:
—17.3
—21.9
— 8.3
—22.9
— 7.3
Nov. 30, 1931 stocks, compared with Nov. 30, 1930 stocks:
—19.1(8*) —30.5(4*) —15.0(5*) —132(7*)
Nov. 30, 1931 stocks, compared with Oct. 31, 1931 stocks:
+ 2.8(8*) — 9.6(4*) —14.8(5*) — 2.3(7*)
Percentage of Nov. 1, 1931 receivables collected in November:
56.0(14*) 35.0(6*)
482(6*)
31.4(11*) 46.9(8*)
♦Number of reporting firms.

Wholesale trade in the Fifth reserve district in No­
vember was poor, most of sixty-four reporting firms
in five leading lines reporting materially lower sales
than in either October this year or November last year.
Part of the decrease in comparison with October was
seasonal, and part in comparison with November 1930
was due to lower prices this year, but the declines last
month were greater than these influences account for.
In cumulative sales since January 1, all five lines show
lower figures than in the like period of 1930, drugs
decreasing least with 7.3 per cent, and hardware most
with 22.9 per cent.
Stocks carried by the reporting firms decreased sea­
sonally in all lines except groceries in November, and
on November 30, 1931, all firms were carrying lower
stocks than on November 30, 1930, dry goods showing
the greatest decline and hardware the least.
The percentages of collections in November to ac­
counts receivable on the first of the month were lower
in all lines except shoes than in October, and were
lower in all lines except dry goods and shoes than in
November last year.
(Compiled December 21, 1931)

MONTHLY REVIEW

7

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

Industrial activity and factory employment declined
further from October to November, reflecting in part
the usual seasonal tendencies. Continued gold imports
and further reduction in member bank reserve require­
ments during November and the first half of December
were reflected in a considerable decline in the outstand­
ing volume of reserve bank credit.

Production and Employment

In November industrial production showed a some­
what larger decrease than is usual at this season, and
the Board’s seasonally adjusted index declined from
73 to 72 per cent of the 1923-1925 average. Activity
declined at woolen mills, lumber mills, and coal mines,
while daily average output at steel mills increased and
volume of automobile production showed less than the
usual seasonal decline from the low level of October.
The November increase in steel production was fol­
lowed by a considerable decline in the first three weeks
of December. Output of petroleum increased further
in November to a level slightly lower than that pre­
vailing last summer before output was sharply cur­
tailed.
Volume of employment in most manufacturing in­
dustries declined by more .than the seasonal amount be­
tween the middle of October and the middle of No­
vember. Reductions were particularly large in the
wearing apparel, leather, and building materials in­
dustries, while in the automobile and tire industries
declines were smaller than usual at this season.
The value of building contracts awarded, as re­
ported by the F. W. Dodge Corporation, has declined
further in recent months and a preliminary estimate
of the Board’s seasonally adjusted index for the last
quarter of 1931 is 49 per cent of the 1923-1925 aver­
age, compared with 59 for the third quarter, 65 for the
second quarter, and 79 for the first quarter of the
year; part of this decline in dollar volume reflects
lower building costs.
Production of principal crops in 1931 was about 10
per cent larger than in 1930, according to the Decem­
ber crop report of the Department of Agriculture,
while acreage harvested was slightly smaller than a
year ago. There were large increases in the crops of
cotton, corn, winter wheat, apples, and peaches, while
the harvests of oats, barley, and rye were smaller than
last year; as in 1930 the hay crop was unusually small.

Distribution

Commodity distribution continued at about the
same rate in November as in October, the volume
of freight-car loadings showing a seasonal decline,




while sales at department stores increased by about
the usual amount for that month.

W holesale Prices

The general level of wholesale prices remained
practically unchanged from October to November,
according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics index;
prices of grains, petroleum, and silver advanced,
while thos£ of livestock and dairy products showed
declines, partly of a seasonal character. Between
the middle of November and the middle of De­
cember there were decreases in the prices of many
leading commodities including livestock, meats, grains,
sugar, silk, and silver; during this period prices of
copper and rubber showed a decline, followed by a
recovery.

Bank Credit
Volume of reserve bank credit outstanding declined
during November and the first half of December, and
averaged $360,000,000 less in the week ending De­
cember 12 than at its October peak seven weeks earlier.
The decrease was in large part in the banks’ portfolio
of acceptances, as discounts for member banks and
holdings of United States Government securities
showed little change for the period. The decline in
total volume of reserve bank credit outstanding dur­
ing the period reflected a growth of $100,000,000 in
the stock of monetary gold, largely through imports
from Japan, and a continued reduction in the reserve
balances of member banks, reflecting a further liqui­
dation of member bank credit. Demand for currency
declined during the last three weeks of November,
and showed considerably less than the usual seasonal
increase in the first half of December. After the
middle of December, however, bank suspensions in
New England were followed by some increased with­
drawals of currency, part of which has begun to re­
turn.
Loans and investments of member banks in leading
cities continued to decline and on December 9 were
$370,000,000 smaller than four weeks earlier. The
decrease was equally divided between the banks’ loans
and their investments. Deposits of these banks, both
demand and time, also showed a decrease, with a con­
sequent reduction in required reserves.
Money rates in the open market showed little change
from the middle of November to the middle of De­
cember. Rates on prime commercial paper continued
at 3}i to 4 per cent, while rates on 90-day bankers’
acceptances advanced from 2% to 3 per cent on No­
vember 25.


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63102