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MONTHLY

REVIEW

BUSINESS AND AGRICULTURAL CONDITIONS

WILLIAM W. H Q X TO N , CHAIRMAN AND FEDERAL RESERVE AGENT
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA

Business during January and the first half of Feb­
ruary, while lacking much of the snap and enthusi­
asm that was evident a year ago, was nevertheless
equal in volume to that of a year ago. A year ago
the volume of business seemed greater by contrast
because business men were just recovering from the
depression which began about the middle of 1920
and lasted until the summer and early fall of 1922.
This year the merchants are looking back over a
period of good business for fifteen to eighteen
months, and consequently the present activity, com­
paratively viewed, does not appear so remarkable
as it did twelve months ago. The purchasing power
of the Fifth District is considerably greater than it
was a year ago, except in West Virginia where the
coal miners are not able to secure full time em­
ployment. The Carolinas, which buy goods in enor­
mous quantities from the wholesalers in Richmond
and Baltimore, are in better financial shape than
they have been since the spring of 1920. Agricul­
tural yields were good on the whole in Virginia,
Maryland and West Virginia, and both skilled and
unskilled labor have been fully employed at high
wages during the past year. Furthermore, people
have been less extravagant with their funds, and
have shown a growing disposition to use them in
paying off debts, making investments in homes or
securities, or building up savings accounts. The
insurance companies found business in the Fifth
District especially good during the past year.
Member banks in principal cities are able to care
for all present needs of their customers, and future
contingencies are provided for by the strong reserve
position of the Federal Reserve Bank. Deposits
show that bank customers are financially stronger
this year than they were last year. Debits to in­
dividual accounts in the banks of the chief centers
of the District are running above debits reported




FEBRUARY 29, 1924

during the corresponding period of 1923, indicating
a volume of business transactions fully up to those
of February a year ago. Business failures in the
Fifth District were 12.1 % fewer in number in
January 1924 than in January 1923, and liabilities
were 3.3% lower, the record in the District being
distinctly better than the national average. Un­
skilled workmen are fully employed, and wage scales
are unchanged from the levels of last year. Coal
is plentiful, and is cheaper than it has been during
recent years. The textile industry is marking time.
Cotton prices continue to hold well above the 30
cents level, and are considerably above 1923 prices
at the same season of the year. The yields in the
cotton growing states of the Fifth District turned
out fully up to estimates made last fall, and in
North Carolina the official estimate of production
was exceeded. Tobacco is bringing better prices
than in December, and the size of the crop is up to
the estimates. Farmers are making preparations
for this year’s planting, and are on the average well
advanced with their work. They are in position to
buy fertilizer, mules, agricultural implements and
other supplies more advantageously than last year,
and are paying cash for many of their purchases.
Building construction in both the cities and country
is holding up at or near the record levels of 1923,
which appears to insure plenty of employment when
the spring program gets under way. Retail trade
as reflected in city department stores during Jan­
uary was 8.8% above sales in January 1923 and
7.2% above average January sales during the three
years 1920, 1921 and 1922. Wholesale trade was
greater in January in every line except groceries
than in December 1923, the increases being largely
seasonal, and in comparison with January 1923 the
current month this year shows gains in groceries,
hardware and furniture, with losses in dry goods,
shoes and drugs.

The National Summary will be found on pages 10 and 11.

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

,,
ll
j

Jan. 9, 1924

Feb. 6, 1923

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.....

464,200,000

$

472,921,000

Feb. 7, 1923
$

j

440,742,000

125.790.000
589.990.000

127.991.000
600.912.000

135.006.000
575.748.000

39.713.000
13.226.000
350.071.000
151.997.000
26.471.000

37.288.000
15.028.000
353.950.000
152.834.000
30.870.000

37.663.000
13.129.000
338.624.000
148.521.000
21.101.000

The principal items of condition reported by seventy-six idential member banks are shown in the
accompanying table as of three dates, February 6, 1924, January 9, 1924 and February 7, 1923, thus afford­
ing 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. In comparing the February 6, 1924 figures with
those previously reported it should be understood that the figures show the conditions existing on the report
dates only, and do not necessarily indicate that there were steady flows in the same directions during the
entire period used in the comparison. The truth of this statement is revealed in the table itself, which shows
higher figures for nearly all items on January 9, 1924 than on February 6, 1924, while the figures for the
latter date are in turn higher than the figures reported on February 7, 1923.
A comparison of the February 6, 1924 figures with those as of January 9, 1924 shows that some liqui­
dation of credit occurred during the four weeks, which is in line with seasonal expectations. Tot^ loans
and discounts in the seventy-six reporting banks declined between January 9th and February 6th from
$472,921,000 to $464,200,000, and this reduction enabled the reporting member banks to reduce their re­
discounts at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond from $30,870,000 to $26,471,000. As a further re­
flection of the reduction in outstanding loans to customers, demand deposits declined from $353,950,000
on January 9th to $350,071,000 on February 6th, and time deposits dropped from $152,834,000 to $151,997,000. Cash in vault also declined during the period under review from $15,028,000 to $13,226,000, this be­
ing a season of the year when banks as a whole have comparatively few calls for cash in large quantities,
but reserves carried with the Reserve Bank increased from $37,288,000 to $39,7i 3>ckxx
The reporting banks were extending more credit to customers on February 6, 1924 than on February
7, 1923, and were borrowing more extensively themselves from the Reserve Bank. On February 7, 1923,
their total loans and discounts amounted to $440,742,000 compared with $464,200,000 on February 6, 1924,
and rediscounts at the Reserve Bank amounted to $21,101,000 and $26,471,000 on the same two dates,
respectively. Reserves carried by the reporting banks amounted to $37,663,000 on February 7th last year
but stood at $39,713,000 on February 6th this year, and both demand and time deposits were also higher
on the 1924 report date than a year ago. Their demand deposits rose during the year from $338,624,000
to $350,071,000, and time deposits increased from $148,521,000 to $151,997,000. Cash in vault stood at
practically the same figure on both dates, amounting to $13,129,000 on February 7th last year and $13,226,000 on February 6th this year. Investments in bonds and securities a year ago amounted to $135,006,000,
but on February 6, 1924 had dropped to $125,790,000, a natural decrease in view of the greater oppor­
tunities the reporting banks now have of using funds in loans and discounts to bring higher returns than
can be realized from investments in most securities.
FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OPERATIONS
During the four weeks between January 16, 1924 and February 13, 1924, Cash Reserves held by the
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond declined from $115,880,013.96 to $113,186,715.55. Federal Reserve
Notes in Actual Circulation declined between the same dates from $92,701,420 to $88,592,495, and the
volume of Rediscounts for member banks held by the Reserve Bank fell from $45,696,304.90 to $44,477,823.21. On the other hand, Member Bank Reserve Deposits increased during the four weeks from $64,369,279.09 to $64,728,178.61. As a result of the changes mentioned, the ratio of cash reserves to combined
note and deposit liabilities declined slightly, falling from 72.36% on January 16th to 72.26% on February
13th.
The increases or decreases in the items reported on February 13, 1924 compared with those reported
on February 14, 1923 are comparatively small, especially in view of the great activity of business during
most of 1923. A year ago the Cash Reserves of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond amounted to
$117,753,753.04 while on February 13, 1924 they amounted to $113,186,715.55. The volume of Federal Re­
serve Notes in Actual Circulation on February 14, 1923 amounted to $89,033,215 compared with $88,592,495 in circulation on February 13, 1924. Rediscounts for member banks this year are higher than they were




2

a year ago, having risen from $38,367,335.26 on February 14th last year to $44,477,823.21 on February
13th this year, but the member banks are now carrying larger reserves than on the corresponding date a
year ago, this item having amounted to $62,424,579.24 on February 14, 1923 in comparison with $64,728,178.61 on February 13, 1924. On February 14, 1923, the ratio of cash reserves to combined note and deposit
liabilities stood at 76.51% and at 72.26% on February 13, 1924.
SAVINGS BANK DEPOSITS
Total deposits in fifteen regularly reporting mutual savings banks located in Baltimore increased dur­
ing January, reaching at the end of that month the highest figure reported for any date since the Federal
Reserve Bank began tabulating savings deposits in January 1920. On January 31, 1924, the combined de­
posits in the fifteen banks amounted to $141,102,463, compared with totals of $133,835,731 on January 31,
1923, $123,885,687 on January 31, 1922, $122,749,845 on January 31, 1921, and $118,733,466 on January
31, 1920. The January 1924 total shows an increase of 54 % over deposits a year ago and a gain of 18.8%
over deposits in January 1920. The figures quoted show that the depositors in these banks saved approx­
imately four million dollars in 1920, but during 1921 they saved only a little over a million dollars. In 1922,
however, employment was more easily obtained, especially toward the end of the year, and depositors added
nearly ten million dollars to their savings. During 1923 the net increase in the banks’ deposits amounted
to seven and a quarter millions.
DEBITS TO INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNT IN LEADING TRADE CENTERS
TOTAL DEBITS FOR THE FIVE WEEKS ENDING
CITIES
Feb. 13, 1924

Jan. 9, 1924

Feb. 14, 1923

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..........................................

$

25,840,000
430.100.000
28.458.000
39.235.000
52.036.000
29.227.000
9.284.000
14.148.000
23.881.000
27.331.000
30.170.000
11.936.000
29.320.000
22.308.000
8.039.000
84.527.000
37.850.000
153.071.000
26.656.000
14.463.000
226.695.000
24.683.000
36,910,000

$

26,398,000
441.335.000
37.985.000
44.769.000
55.941.000
33.919.000
10.996.000
15.323.000
26.477.000
27.833.000
35.622.000
12.320.000
31.615.000
25.433.000
9,024,000
97.974.000
36.599.000
166.902.000
29.814.000
15.695.000
225.794.000
28.097.000
35.944.000

$

24,265,000
424.200.000
45.221.000
43.375.000
43.191.000
29.054.000
8.780.000
13.751.000
22.065.000
27.256.000
27.500.000
10.139.000
29.458.000
24.317.000
8.742.000
81.267.000
35.950.000
160.460.000
26.336.000
12.318.000
220.238.000
24.358.000
36.964.000

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

$

1,386,168,000

$

1,471,809,000

$

1,379,205,000

We show in the accompanying table total debits in the clearing house banks in twenty-three of the chief
trade centers of the Fifth Reserve District during three equal periods of five weeks each, ending on Feb­
ruary 13, 1924, January 9, 1924 and February 14, 1923, thus affording an opportunity for comparing the
latest five weeks period with (1) the preceding period this year and (2) the corresponding period last year.
As is usually the case at this season of the year, debits reported for the five weeks ending February
13, 1924 were lower than for the five weeks ending January 9, 1924, the total reported by the twenty-three
cities being $1,386,168,000 during the February 13th period in comparison with $1,471,809,000 reported for
the January 9th period, a decrease of $85,641,000, or 5.8% during the latter period. In view of the fact
that the period ending January 9th contained the large volume of annual, semi-annual and quarterly pay­
ments of interest, dividends, etc., that fall due on January 1st, the smaller volume of transactions indicated
by the table for the period ending February 13th is not unfavorable.
In comparison with the volume of debits reported a year ago, the total reported this year shows an in­
crease. During the five weeks ending February 14th last year total debits in the reporting cities amounted
to $1,379,205,000, but for the corresponding period ending February 13th this year the same cities reported
a total of $1,386,168,000, an increase of $6,963,000, or five tenths of one percent. The increase was gen­
erally distributed among the reporting cities, only seven of the twenty-three cities showing lower figures
this year, and of the seven only three reported material declines.




3

BUSINESS FAILURES IN THE TWELVE FEDERAL RESERVE DISTRICTS
JANUARY, 1924 AND 1923.

1924

1923

Per Cent
Increase or
Decrease

203
407
113
175
152
136
251
143
104
168
68
188

172
441
114
182
173
186
283
97
108
81
117
172

18.0
— 7.7
— 0.9
— 3.8
—12.1
—26.9
—11.3
47.4
— 3.7
107.4
—41.9
9.3

$ 7,173,862
8,884,038
2,157,916
6,160,933
3,505,170
2,452,051
12,641,812
1,669,880
1,129,225
2,035,090
1,170,988
2,291,543

$ 2,716,407
14,478,212
2,767,619
7,235,898
3,623,783
2,689,396
6,250,185
1,855,028
2,655,679
1,491,314
1,524,107
1,922,869

164.1%
— 38.6
— 22.0
— 14.9
— 3.3
— 8.8
102.3
— 10.0
— 57.5
36.5
— 23.2
19.2

2,108

2,126

— 0.8 %

$ 51,272,508

$ 49,210,497

4.2%

Number
City and District
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___
Totals .... ..... .....

............

Liabilities
1924

1923

Per Cent of
Increase or
Decrease

Dun's Review, which furnishes us business failure statistics each month, in commenting upon the
January record says, “ Experience has shown that failures invariably increase in number during the first
month of a year, owing largely to pressure of annual settlements, and there were more defaults in both
manufacturing and trading lines in January of this year than in December of last year.” Not much change
occurred in liabilities in January in comparison with December 1923 or January 1923. Bankruptcies in the
twelve Reserve Districts totaled 2,108 in January this year, with combined liabilities of $51,272,508, com­
pared with 1,841 failures in December 1923 with liabilities amounting to $51,614,730, and 2,126 failures in
January 1923 with total liabilities amounting to $49,210,497. The number of failures in January this year
therefore shows a decrease of eight-tenths of one percent under the number of failures in January 1923,
but liabilities this year increased 4.2 percent. Of the twelve districts all show fewer failures this year than
last except Boston, St. Louis, Kansas City and San Francisco, while all of the districts also show lower
liabilities during the 1924 month except Boston, Chicago, Kansas City and San Francisco.
In the Fifth District specifically, January 1924 witnessed 152 failures compared with 173 reported
in January 1923, with liabilities of $3,505,170 and $3,623,783, respectively, indicating a decrease of 12 .1%
in the number of failures and a decline of 3.3% in liabilities, a better record in both instances than the av­
erage for the nation. The number of failures in January this year, however, was the largest number re­
ported for any month since January 1923.
The average liability per failure in January 1924 was $23,060 in the Fifth District and $24,323 in the
nation as a whole, compared with average liabilities in January 1923 of $20,947 in the Fifth District and
$23,147 in the nation.
LABOR— During January and the first half of February a good deal of unemployment developed
among unskilled workmen, due chiefly to unseasonable weather for outside work, but skilled workmen as
a class are still fully employed. Many of the large building projects undertaken last year have been or are
being completed, and contractors have hesitated to begin new undertakings during the months which almost
always bring bad weather. Some of the District’s manufacturing enterprises are also accustomed to cut
down their operations in midwinter. The unemployment noticed during the past six weeks is probably en­
tirely seasonal, however, and is not believed to indicate a period of idleness for people who want to work.
Large numbers of building permits are being issued, and there appears no lessening in the volume of public
work being planned for the current year, and when this contemplated work opens up, with the passing of
the winter, there should be plenty of work available. Farmers are still unable to secure satisfactory laborers
in as large numbers as they would like, a condition of affairs which is assuming the appearance of perma­
nency. Some of the state Legislatures are giving much thought to the problem and are discussing pro­
posals to prevent labor agents from coming into the several states to recruit laborers for w
rork in northern
industrial centers.
COAL— There has been no material change in the coal situation during the past month. The mines
are running a little more than half capacity, but they are bringing up sufficient coal to meet all demands.
The railroads have provided prompt transportation for shipments this winter, generally speaking, and dealers
have had no trouble in keeping their yards adequately stocked. During recent weeks the mines are reported
to have received somewhat larger orders than during the earlier months of the winter, most of these in­
creased orders coming from the Middle West and being caused by some uneasiness over the labor situation
in the coal nelds. The contract between the bituminous miners and operators expires on April 1st, and
remembering the long strike of 1922 the West is apparently playing safe by laying in a coal reserve. The




4

miners and operators are conferring on a new wage and working agreement as we write, and the feeling
between the parties appears to be better than it has been in recent years at contract time, but the points of
view of the contending parties are widely different and the outcome of the negotiations is being watched
with much interest by all coal consumers.
The Geological Survey states that 471,286,000 net tons of bituminous coal were mined during the first
263 days of the 1923-1924 coal year compared with 353,987,000 tons mined during the corresponding 263
days of 1922-1923.
The production of anthracite coal appears to have found a temporary level around 1,900,000 tons per
week. At present the rate of anthracite production is somewhat less than during the corresponding periods
of 1923 and 1921, but is slightly more than in 1922.
TEXTILES— The textile industry is in the doldrums, as it has been for six months or more, but the
mills in the Fifth District appear to be somewhat less affected by the depression than mills located elsewhere.
Buyers continue very reluctant in placing orders, and commit themselves for immediate needs only, but there
has recently been some increase in the number of small orders placed in primary channels, and since jobbers
and retailers do not appear to have large stocks, frequent orders will doubtless be necessary in the future
unless the volume of retail trade now being done slows down considerably. We receive complaints about
a lack of profit on the business being done more often than on the volume, the mills contending that they
have not been able to increase their prices in keeping with prices of raw cotton. There is a great deal of
talk about restricted running time in the industry, but there has as yet been comparatively little reduction
in output in the Fifth District mills, and unfavorable conditions arising from uncertainty as to the con­
sumer’s attitude toward goods manufactured from high priced cotton have had little effect upon the quoted
value of textile mill stock shares. Cotton consumption figures for January gathered by the Bureau of the
Census showed a considerably greater activity among the mills than had been expected, the number of bales
used during that month having been exceeded only five times during the last forty-two months, all of these
occurring during the 1922-1923 season. The Fifth District mills used 231,953 bales in January compared
with 182,042 bales consumed in December 1923 and 224,463 bales used in January 1923. During January
this year the North Carolina mills consumed 125,344 bales. South Carolina mills consumed 95,698 bales, and
Virginia mills consumed'10,911 bales. The consumption in the Fifth District during January amounted to
59.3% of total consumption in the cotton growing states and to 40.2% of the national consumption.
COTTON— In our Review last month we traced average weekly spot cotton prices in the Carolinas
through the week ending January 12th, that week avering 33.80 cents per pound. The week ending Jan­
uary 19th witnessed a drop to an average of 32.17 cents, but since that time the market has been slowly
moving upward again. The average price paid in the Carolinas during the week ending January 26th was
32.27 cents, the average for the week ending February 2nd was 32.44 cents, and the week ending February
9th, the latest period for which figures are available as we write, averaged 33.15 cents. Very little cotton
is being sold, however, most of the crop having passed from the control of the growers to purchasers or
to co-operative associations.
On February 14th the Census Bureau released cotton consumption figures for January. The report
showed 576,644 bales consumed during the month, a distinctly larger figure than any one had expected, but
the report had little effect upon the cotton market. Traders are not sure that the public will buy cotton
goods at prices that would become necessary if cotton prices rise very much, and consequently bullish news
does not effect the market as it would have done before the experiences of 1920 and 1921 had taught the
manufacturers, jobbers and retailers the danger of stocking up with goods that are abnormally high priced.
In January 1923 consumption totaled 610,375 bales, but last year the mills were receiving all the forward
orders they cared to accept, and cotton was five or six cents per pound cheaper than it now is. Total con­
sumption for the season to date, August 1, 1923 through January 31, 1924, amounts to 3,087,117 bales, com­
pared with 3,272,579 bales consumed during the corresponding six months ending January 31, 1923. Cotton
on hand in consuming establishments at the end of January amounted to 1,633,332 bales, compared with
1,623,453 bales on December 31, 1923 and 1,986,605 bales on January 31, 1923. Public warehouses and
compresses held 2,966,466 bales 011 January 31st, in comparison with 3,526,164 bales on December 31, 1923
and 3,481,689 bales on January 31, 1923. Imports during January totaled <47,693 bales, compared with
35,601 bales in December 1923 and 117,501 bales in January 1923. Exports in January amounted to 546,253 bales, compared with 845,581 bales in December 1923 and 473.476 bales in January 1923. Total ex­
ports since August 1, 1923 amount to 3,870,204 bales, compared with 3,379,488 bales exported during the
corresponding six months of the previous cotton year. The foreign manufacturers have been buying cot­
ton more freely than domestic mills.
The latest ginning report released by the Census Bureau gave 9,946,462 bales as the total ginned pre­
vious to January 16th, and in the detailed report by states some of them showed a higher figure than the
estimate of the year’s production. This led many traders to believe that the government's estimate of 10,081,000 bales as the 1923 production may have been too low, but high consumption figures counterbalanced




5

any bearish influence the report might otherwise have had on cotton prices. Previous to January 16th
North Carolina had ginned 1,028,998 bales, South Carolina 784,991 bales, and Virginia 48,013 bales, the
North Carolina figure being 8,998 bales above the estimated production for the year.
TOBACCO— The monthly tobacco sales report issued by the Agricultural Statistician of the Virginia
Department of Agriculture states that during January 9,360,008 pounds of bright tobacco were sold in Vir­
ginia, at an average price of *$21.40 per hundred pounds, and 6,476,233 pounds of dark tobacco at an average
of $18.49 Per hundred. Total bright sales this season on the auction floors total 49,260,932 pounds and dark
sales aggregate 15,281,541 pounds, neither of these figures including receipts of the Tobacco Growers CoOperative Association. The total of both bright and dark tobacco sold previous to February 1st, and in­
cluding the receipts of the Growers Association previous to January 1st, amounted to 104,209,251 pounds.
Prices of both bright and dark tobacco averaged higher in January than in December, but were lower than
the average for the month of January 1923. According to estimates of the warehousemen the quality of
the January sales averaged slightly better than in December, but lower than in January 1923. The Jan­
uary sales graded 24% good, 37% medium and 39% common, while in January last year the report
showed 28% good, 40% medium, and 32% common. Danville led the bright markets in both prices and
sales in January with a total of 4,611,010 pounds sold for an average of $23.76 per hundred. Lynchburg
led the dark markets with sales of 2,010,898 pounds, but Drakes Branch led the dark markets in price with
an average of $20.80 per hundred pounds.
In North Carolina, producers’ sales in January totaled 28,377,478 pounds for an average of $19.80
per hundred, the market at Winston-Salem leading with total sales of 5,832,758 pounds and Mebane pay­
ing the highest prices with an average of $25.90 per hundred. Total sales this season to February 1st ag­
gregate 290,386,420 pounds, exclusive of deliveries to the Co-Operative Association, and during the season
the market at Wilson has sold 57,119,091 pounds in comparison with 32,775,288 pounds sold by its nearest
competitor, Greenville. The total sales made by the independent warehouses previous to February 1st rep­
resents 75.1 % of the estimated crop for the year.
The Tobacco Growers Co-Operative Association reports receipts previous to February 9, 1924, amount­
ing to 138,800,000 pounds, of which 34,500,000 pounds came from the South Carolina belt, 26,000,000
pounds from the Eastern North Carolina belt, and 78,300,000 pounds from the Old Bright Leaf North
Carolina-Virginia belt.
AGRICULTURAL NOTES— Since the middle of January the ground has been either wet or frozen
in Virginia and farmers are consequently not so far advanced with their plowing as they usually are at
this season. The lack of snow cover during the cold weather left the wheat crop without protection, and
it has been injured by freezing, according to the crop report of the State Agricultural Statistician. Favor­
able weather in the spring may overcome the present poor condition of wheat, however. Tobacco growers
have generally finished burning off plant beds, and some beds have been sown. The state agricultural au­
thorities believe that there will probably be some increase in the Burley acreage in Southwest Virginia, as
the growers have been very well pleased with the returns from the 1923 crop. In the Norfolk section
early potato growers have started planting, and planting will be under way on the Eastern Shore within
two weeks. Weather conditions have been favorable for this work. In the central and southern dis­
tricts brief spells of warm weather have caused peach buds to become more advanced than usual, but
there is no immediate danger to this fruit. The condition of apple buds is very good, and pruning has
made favorable progress. Live stock is in good condition. Cattle have been wintering quite well, and early
lambs are progressing favorably.
The North Carolina Agricultural Statistician reports serious damage to small grain by the January
freezes, oats having suffered especially. Farmers are busy cutting cotton stalks and disking the land for
planting, this work being ahead of the usual average for the season. Many farmers in North Carolina are
skeptical about boll weevil danger and are planning to go the limit in cotton acreage, but this attitude is not
universal. Preparation and planting of tobacco seed beds is under way, but the price outlook being con­
sidered discouraging, some reduction in acreage is contemplated, cotton taking the place of tobacco on much
of this land. Co-Operative Association members are reported to be better pleased with tobacco prices
than they were early in the season. Most winter truck was killed in January, but reseeding in the eastern
counties was promptly done. This replanting naturally results in backward crops, but much of this hand­
icap may be overcome if favorable weather develops. Fruit buds are plentiful and given favorable weather
the prospects are for a big crop this year. Live stock is in good condition and interest in live stock pro­
duction appears to be on the increase.
Fertilizer manufacturers expect to sell more of their product this year than last, and they have im­
ported raw materials heavily. The shipping season for fertilizer begins about the second week in February
and runs until April. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture reports that farmers are paying
cash for much of their fertilizer and other supplies, and buggy, wagon and mule dealers report larger sales
than for several years past, all of which reflects the improved financial position of the farmers.




6

BUILDING OPERATIONS FOR THE MONTHS OF JANUARY, 1924 AND 1923.
Permits Issued
New Construction
CITIES
0
2

Per Cent
Increase or
of
Decrease Increase
Total
or
Valuation Decrease

Alterations

Repairs

New
1924 1923

1924

1923

1924

1923

1924

1923

0
*
Z

i ' ____ __
,
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

MR L N
AYA D
Baltimore.............
Cumberland.........
Frederick..............
V G IA
IR IN
Lynchburg............
Norfolk.................
Richmond.............
Roanoke...............
W S V G IA
E T IR IN
Bluefield...............
Charleston............
Clarksburg...........
Huntington...........
Parkersburg.........
N R HC R L A
O T A O IN
Asheville...............
Charlotte...............
Durham................
Greensboro...........
High Point...........
Raleigh.................
Wilmington........
Winston-Salem.....
S U HC R L A
O T A O IN
Charleston............
Columbia..............
Greenville.............
Spartanburg.........
D T O C L M IA
IS . F O U B
Washington..........

$ 502,200 $— 855,840 — 19.5% 1
101.9
28,235
2
4,825
675 — 10.4
0 —
3

318
12
2

683
9
1

17
92
113
67

22
83
143
74

18
46
62
21

20
64
58
36

62,642
237,415
1,361,750
179,375

70,575
260,320
1,549,148
192,430

101,658
68,485
148,371
10,864

9,432
26,247
157,880
10,736

105.4
84,293
19,333
6.7
— 196,907 — 11.5
— 12,927 — 6.4

4
5
6
7

14
35
23
73
*11

11
50
20
99

5
37
10
17
*12

3
28
9
10

115,490
184,542
105,985
1,396,743
24,350

28,900
217,020
38,900
272,232
75,000

1,700
30,430
4,675
16,640
3,900

1,350
38,882
3,780
5,295
20,000

86,940 287.4
— 145,242 — 56.8
172,292 403.7
1,135,856 409.3
— 66,750 — 70.3

8
9
10
11
12

31
33
18
47
35
56
11
56

46
35
18
18
**36
**41
9
52

32
4
4
15
4
5
2
43

11
14
3
19

269,363
159,675
162,800
238,825
**225,550
**294,132
25,400
233,850

13,420
2,475
7,450
38,570
1,550
11,300
5,550
20,621

4,742
47,990
850
11,802

—

2
63

181,315
1,393,955
92,000
790,978
54,647
198,936
40,0Q0
151,720

2,500
46,855

79,370
1,188,765
— 64,200
578,921
— 169,353
— 83,896
17,600
— 108,364

— 29.0
572.4
— 39.2
231.0
— 75.1
— 28.5
63.1
— 38.6

13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20

4
29
28
34

10
55
25
27

20
44
18
25

13
58
18
30

800
48,180
87,555
220,955

8,715
95,880
67,255
194,913

5,050
10,152
101,135
6,540

5,423
9,786
32,620
23,995

—
8,288 — 58.6
—■ 47,334 — 44.8
88,815
88.9
8,587
3.9

21
22
23
24

247

360

178

197

1,255,205

2,155,706

717,370

361,198

— 544,329 — 21.6

25

Totals........ 1,379 1,566

1,303

773 $ 3,282,120 $ 3,881,640
22,875
6
48,865
0
5,025
6,500

$ 245,880
7,070
800

294
17
5

1,435 $11,520,548 $10,747,604

$1,581,606

$1,328,388 $

1,026,162

8.5%

*Not included in totals.
**Includes both new work and repairs.
NOTE-The figures in the above table reflect the amount of work provided for in the corporation limits of the several
cities, but take no account of suburban developments. This should be kept in mind in comparing the cities, the point being
especially important in the case of the cities in the Carolinas where many millions of dollars have recently been and are still
being invested in textile plants located near the reporting cities, but outside their official bounderies.

•
Building operations in the Fifth District, as indicated by the number and estimated value of building
permits issued during January in twenty-five of the leading cities of the District, compared favorably with
the work arranged for in January last year. The reporting cities issued 1,379 permits for new construction
in January this year, with estimated valuation of $11,520,548, compared with 1,566 permits issued in Jan­
uary 1923, with estimated valuation of $10,747,604, a decrease of 187 permits this year but an increase of
$772,944 in estimated valuation. Most of the decrease in permits occurred in the three largest cities of the
District, and was due more to the unusually large number issued during January 1923 than to any real
slump in construction work planned in January this year. The total estimated valuation for both new
work and alterations or repairs provided for in January 1924 amounted to $13,102,154, compared with a
total of $12,075,992 in January 1923, a gain of 8.5% this year.
Attention is called to the note under the building permit table. The note appears this month for the
first time, but in the future it will be carried regularly as a warning against the danger of putting too much
value on the actual permit figures published. There is unfortunately no way in which the number or value
of suburban work can be ascertained with sufficiently accuracy to enable us to show figures on it, but it is
undoubtedly of very great importance. All of the cities are tending to spread their residential sections
over the surrounding country, the wide use of automobiles having removed the necessity of remaining
within the city, but of greater importance is the suburban developement going on near the cities that are
industrial centers. During the past five or six years many millions of dollars have been invested in tex­
tile mills near the Carolina cities included in the above table, but practically none of this development has
shown in the monthly building permit figures collected by the city authorities. Many of the manufacturing
centers have more people within a radius of a few miles, but all outside the city limits, than the official
population of the city itself. Of course all of these suburban dwellers buy from the city merchants, de-




7

posit in and borrow from the city banks, and for all practical purposes are residents of the city near which
they live.
FIGURES ON RETAIL TRADE
As Indicated By Reports from Twenty-nine Representative Department Stores
for the Month of January, 1924.
Baltimore

Percentage increase in net sales during
Jan., 1924, compared with Jan., 1923..........

Richmond

Washington

Other
Cities

District

2.8

23.6

15.1

6.4

8.8

0.7

43.0

9.1

5.3

7.2

3.2

20.4

0.9

12.8

4.9

3.9

— 11.4

7.8

— 0.9

5.7

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

380.9

346.8

400.1

582.3

404.7

Percentage of outstanding orders at the end
of Jan., 1924, to total purchases of
merchandise during the year 1923...............

6.5

6.4

8.7

7.0

7.4

Percentage increase in net sales during Jan.
1924, compared with average sales during
the corresponding month of 1920,1921 and
1922.................................................................

—

Percentage increase in stocks on hand at
the end of Jan., 1924, over stocks on
hand at the end of Jan., 1923.......................
Percentage increase in stocks on hand at
the end of Jan., 1924, over stocks on
hand at the end of Dec, 1923....................

—

—

—Denotes Decrease.

Retail trade in January, as reflected in sales in city department stores, was better than the seasonal
average, and made up part of the dullness in staple lines noted in December. Twenty-nine stores sold 8.8%
more goods, measured by dollar value, in January than in January 1923, and 7.2% more than the January
average sales during the years 1920, 1921 and 1922. The selling value of stocks on hand in the reporting
stores was 4.9% greater at the end of January than on the corresponding date last year, but were 5.7%
less in value than at the end of December 1923. The percentage of stock on hand at the end of January
1924 to net sales during the same month was 404.7%, and outstanding orders at the end of January amounted
to 7.4% of total purchases of merchandise during 1923. Richmond’s sales in Janary were 23.6% above
sales in January last year, but stocks in Richmond showed an increase of 20.4%, while Washington sales
increased 15 .1% and stocks gained only nine-tenths of one percent. Stocks in Baltimore and the group of*
Other Cities increased more than sales. The rate of turnover was faster in Richmond during January than
in any of the other cities, with Baltimore next. Washington led in the percentage of outstanding orders to
total 1923 purchases.
We are pleased to announce the addition of two important stores to the reporting list, one located in
Maryland and the other in West Virginia, bringing the total number of co-operating stores up to twentynine.

WHOLESALE TRADE
The accompanying table shows in percentage form the increase or decrease in the dollar amount of sales
made in January 1924 by representative wholesale firms dealing in groceries, dry goods, shoes, hardware,
furniture and drugs, in comparison with (1) sales made in December 1923, and (2) sales made in January
1923. In addition, some information is included on stocks on hand at the end of January 1924 in comparison
with the other two dates.
All lines except groceries show increased sales in January this year in comparison with sales in Decem­
ber 1923, but most of these gains are due to seasonal demand following the inventory period. Grocery firms,
dry goods jobbers and furniture manufacturers increased their stocks during January, but stocks decreased
in shoe and hardware lines.
In comparison with sales made in January 1923, the current month this year shows gains in groceries,
hardware and furniture, but declines in dry goods, shoes and drugs. The decline in dry goods is by com­
parison with unusually large sales made in January 1923 rather than due to a small volume of sales this




8

Groceries

Dry Goods

Shoes

Number of reporting firms in each line______

45

15

Percentage increase (or decrease) in net
sales during Jan. 1924, compared with
sales during Dec. 1923....................................

— 1.3

83.2

8.2

31.8

57.4

28.3

Percentage increase (or decrease) in net
sales during Jan. 1924, compared with
sales during Jan. 1923,.....................................

8.3

—5.9

—16.6

10.7

16.9

— 4.4

Percentage increase (or decrease) in stocks
on hand Jan. 31, 1924, compared with
Dec. 31, 1923........... .........................................

0.3(8)

29.6(6)

— 4.1(3)

— 5.2(3)

8.3(4)

Percentage increase (or decrease) in stocks
on hand Jan. 31, 1924, compared with
Jan. 31, 1923................................. ...................

— 3.9(5)

23.7(5)

— 7.9(3)

8.6(3)

71.7(3)

14

Hardware

Furniture

Drugs

16

7

13

—Denotes decreased percentage.
NOTE:-The number of firms reporting stock figures for the dates compared is shown in parenthesis immediately after the
percentage figure.

year, and‘the same explanation applies in less degree to the decline in shoe sales. Stocks on hand in dry
goods jobbing houses, in hardware firms and at furniture factories were larger at the end of January 1924
than on the corresponding date in 1923, but stocks of wholesale grocers and shoe jobbers were smaller than
last year.
Collections appear to have slowed up distinctly during January in comparison with the two or three
months preceding the Christmas holidays. Several of the reporting firms neglected to classify collections
this month, but 101 firms sent in the desired information. Of these 101, the number reporting collections
as either Good or Fair amounted to 84.2 % of the whole, compared with 92.5 % so reporting for December
1923 and January 1923. It is probable that the slowing up is not as great as these figures indicate, how­
ever, since practically without exception the firms that neglected to give the classification this month have
been reporting either Good or Fair during recent months. The classifications made in January were as fol
lows:
Good
~
12
I
O

Lines
Groceries............................................................................
Dry Goods .................................. ................. .................
Shoes...............................................................................
Hardware ............................ ...................................... .
Furniture .......................................................................
Drugs ....................................... ........ ................... ..........
January 1924 totals...
December 1923 totals..
January 1923 totals...




5
1
5
24
35
29

.

Collections Reported As
Fair
~
Slow
Poor
24
6
0
0
5
9
0
9
3
1
0
9
1
0
4
6
0
0
61
16
0
8
0
64
0
81
9

Compiled February 20, 1924

9

Total
42

15
12
IS
6
11
IOI
107
119

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

Production of basic commodities increased sharply in January. The volume of distribution continued
larger than a year ago, and the wholesale price level remained unchanged. In February there was an in­
crease in the demand for credit for commercial purposes.
PRODUCTION. The Federal Reserve Board’s index of production in basic industries increased 8
percent in January and was at approximately the same level as a year ago. This increase followed a
downward movement which had been under way since May 1923. The increases over December, which
occurred in most of the industries, were particularly large in the production of steel ingots, lumber, and
bituminous coal and in mill consumption of cotton. A small but general reduction of working forces at
industrial establishments resulted in a slight decline in the index of factory employment. The largest de­
creases occurred at plants manufacturing food products and tobacco. Contract awards for new buildings in
January were slightly higher in value than in December and were 26 percent above a year ago.
TRADE. Railroad shipments, particularly of miscellaneous merchandise increased during January and
total car loadings were somewhat above the high level of January 1923. The index of wholesale trade in­
creased 11 percent during January and was slightly higher than a year ago. Sales in groceries, meat and
drugs were larger than in January 1923, while sales of dry goods and shoes were smaller. Retail trade in
January showed the usual seasonal decline in comparison with the closing months of 1923, but compared
with a year ago department store sales were 7 percent larger and stocks of merchandise at these stores, after
declining in January, were 6 percent above last year’s level. Sales of mail order houses in January exceeded
those of a year ago by 11 percent.
PRICES. The wholesale price index of the Bureau of Labor statistics remained unchanged during
January and was at a level 3 percent lower than a year ago. Prices of fuels and building materials, \yhich
had been declining since early in 1923, increased in January, while prices of farm products, foods and
clothing declined. During the first two weeks of February prices of hogs, sugar, hides, lumber and metals
advanced, while prices of cotton, wheat and silk declined.
BANK CREDIT. The volume of borrowing for commercial purposes at member banks in leading
cities, after an almost continuous decline for more than three months, increased considerably during the
latter part of January and the first two weeks in February. This increase was accompanied by a decline
in loans secured by stocks and bonds. Total loans and investments of the reporting banks are now slightly
larger than a year ago, commercial loans and loans on stocks and bonds being larger, but investments be­
ing smaller. At the Reserve Banks the total volume of earning assets fluctuated within narrow limits dur­
ing February. The large return flow of currency and the payment -of discounts, which characterized the
early weeks of the year, did not continue after January. Since the first week in February the volume of
discounts for member banks has been about $500,000,000 and the holdings of securities purchased in the
open market about $400,000,000. The easier money conditions of January were followed in February by
slightly firmer rates on acceptances and on short term Government securities. Commercial paper rates in
the New York market remained unchanged at 4 ^ percent.




10

Index of 22 basic commodities corrected for

Index of U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

seasohal variation (1919=100). Latest Figure—
January 121.

(1913=100, base adopted by Bureau) Latest figure
—January 151.

RESERVE BANK CREDIT
4000

hOOC

! ^

3000

3000

\

2000

r H

Total
Earning As.tets

//
V* *
t.v / '

1

1000

hnces&
U S. Sec.
Otxounii
1

0

1919

1920

1921

1922

1923

1924

Weekly figures for 12 Federal Reserve Banks.
Latest figures, February 20th.

Weekly figures for member banks in 101
leading cities. Latest figures, February 13th.

NO TE: The January index figure fo r Production, given as 121 in the note under the chart above,
should be 120, revision having been made by the Federal Reserve Board after the chart
was engraved.




11




12