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MONTHLY REVIEW
CREDIT, BUSINESS AND AGRICULTURAL CONDITIONS

WILLIAM W. H O X T O N ,

C h a ir m 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
1931
SUMMARY
Debits to Individual Accounts (24 Cities).--------- ,$13,536,067,000
1,574
Number of Commercial Failures, 5th District.-----Liabilities Involved in Failures, 5th District-------- . .. $ 34,880,659
2,507,332
Cotton Consumption, 5th District Mills, (Bales)--1,833,000
Cotton Grown in Fifth District (Bales)------------681,734,000
Tobacco Grown in Fifth District (Pounds)--------Farm Value, All Crops in Fifth District------------ .... $ 352,113,000
34,484
Building Permits for All Work (32 Cities)--------Value of Permits for All Work (32 Cities)-------- .... $ 80,739,801
Value of Contracts Awarded, 5th District---------- .... $ 243,595,366
Total Sales, 34 Department Stores, 5th District---- . .. $ 107,726,854
Total Sales, 63 Wholesale Firms in 5 Lines-------- .... $ 41,321,045
378,110,000
Bituminous Coal Production, U. S. (Tons)-------The accompanying summary shows
in statistical form some of the leading
activities of the Fifth Federal reserve
district in 1931 in contrast with the
two preceding years. Most of the fig­
ures for 1931 compare unfavorably
with those of both 1930 and 1929.
Debits to individual accounts figures
for last year totaled 13.2 per cent less
than debits in 1930, and 19.7 per cent
below those of 1929. Commercial
failures were practically the same in
number last year as in 1930, and were
only 10.8 per cent more numerous than
in 1929, but the aggregate liabilities
involved in 1931 insolvencies exceeded
those of 1930 by 6.3 per cent and those
of 1929 by 41.2 per cent. Cotton consumption in Fifth
district mills increased 5.6 per cent last year over con­
sumption in the preceding year, but was 17.5 per cent
less than cotton consumption in the district in 1929.
Building permits issued in the Fifth district last year
decreased in both number and in estimated valuation
in comparison with the figures for the two preceding
years, and contracts actually awarded for construction
work in the district declined even more, indicating that
the depression in building extended to suburban and




JANUARY 31, 1932
1930
1929
$15,588,979,000 $16,851,269,000
1,572
1,420
$ 32,806,719 $ 24,705,654
2,375,299
3,039,884
1,818,000
1,625,000
817,651,000
725,109,000
$ 483,051,000 $ 649,480,000
35,091
42,122
97,992,273 $ 131,888,967
$ 352,912,092 $ 385,963,047
$ 115,013,920 $ 117,636,010
49,353,307
64,176,273
$ 467,526,000 $ 534,989,000

rural work as well as to city projects.
Retail and wholesale trade in 1931 was
materially smaller than trade in 1930
and 1929. Unemployment increased in
1931, and there were more wage re­
ductions than in 1930. Agricultural
yields were excellent in the district in
1931,
and on an acreage basis exceeded
production of any recent year in most
crops, but prices for crops were the
lowest in many years and total income
derived by farmers was much lower
than in 1930 or 1929. This decrease
in the cash return on the year’s farm­
ing, following the disastrous drought
year and low prices in 1930, made it
impossible for a very large percentage
of the farmers to liquidate their indebtedness in the
fall. As a result of this frozen credit, many banks
found themselves unable to meet their obligations and
were forced to close. At the end of the year, financial
conditions were strained, especially in the lower half
of the district, and member banks were leaning much
more on the Federal reserve bank than they were at
the end of 1930.
Trade in December 1931 was up to seasonal level in
comparison with the fall months of 1931, but was in

MONTHLY REVIEW

2

smaller volume than trade in December 1930. De­
partment store sales last month were 9.7 per cent less
than sales in December 1930, and four of five whole­
sale lines for which data are available also showed
smaller sales in the 1931 month, shoe jobbers reporting
the only increase. Between the middle of December
and the middle of January, changes of great importance
occurred in banking in the Fifth district, and a number
of banks were forced to close in the Carolinas, the
most outstanding of these being a State bank branch
system in South Carolina. The unsettled conditions
among the banks in the Carolinas greatly increased the
demand for reserve bank credit, and consequently re­
discount holdings and note circulation of the Federal
Reserve Bank of Richmond both advanced sharply
during the past month, when under normal conditions
both would have tended to decline. Deposits in mem­
ber banks decreased materially between December IS
and January IS. Debits to individual accounts figures
during the five weeks ended January 13, 1932, showed
a seasonal increase over debits in the five weeks ended
December 9, 1931, but fell 16 per cent below totals for
the corresponding five weeks ended January 14, 1931.
Commercial failures showed somewhat less than the
seasonal increase in December over November, and
were practically the same as in December 1930, but
liabilities last month compared quite unfavorably with
those of both November 1931 and December 1930.
Employment showed no improvement in December,
but mild weather lessened the usual seasonal increase
in the number of unemployed. Coal production in De­
cember was below the daily rate of production in No­
vember, and was much less than in the preceding
December. Fifth district textile mills used more cotton
in December than in the corresponding month of the
preceding year, but showed a seasonal decline in com­
parison with cotton consumption in November 1931.
Cotton prices rose about half a cent a pound between
the middle of December and the middle of January, but
tobacco prices continued to decline. Building permits
issued last month in the district increased over those of
December 1930, but last month's estimated valuation
declined 28 per cent.

Reserve Bank Statement
000 omitted
Dec. 15 Jan. 15
1931
1931
$ 44,736 $ 36,081 $ 23,332
Rediscounts held----------------11,528
7,384
9,650
Open market paper------------25,025
9,081
17,261
Government securities______
700
700
0
Other earning assets-----------73,334
47,977
64,167
Total earning assets----------.
99,046
90,569
Circulation of Fed. Res. notes... 110,622
55,381
60,892
50,372
Members’ reserve deposits-----94,124 113,505
107,343
Cash reserves .......________ ...
58.86
64.09
72.71
Reserve ra tio -------------------ITEMS

Jan. 15
1932

Rediscounts for member banks held by the Federal
Reserve Bank of Richmond increased between the mid­
dle of December and the middle of January, contrary to
the trend in most years. The increase was due chiefly
to a desire of many member banks to strengthen their




cash position because of bank failures. Rediscounts
held on January IS totaled $8,655,000 more than those
held on December 15. For the same reasons that
caused the rise in rediscounts, the circulation of Fed­
eral reserve notes also increased during the past month,
rising by $11,576,000 between December 15 and Janu­
ary 15. Member bank reserve deposits declined by
$5,009,000 during the month under review, partly due
to lower deposits in member banks and partly to with­
drawals of reserves by members needing the funds to
meet customer demands on them. The reserve bank
built up its cash reserves $13,219,000 between Decem­
ber 15 and January 15 by reducing its portfolio of open
market paper $1,878,000 and disposing of $15,944,000
of Government securities. These changes reduced the
total earning assets of the Federal Reserve Bank of
Richmond by $9,167,000 between December 15 and
January 15, but raised the ratio of cash reserves to
note and deposit liabilities combined by 5.23 points. It
is interesting to note that the January 15 figures for
rediscounts and circulation of Federal reserve notes
were lower than the figures reached earlier in the
month, when the volume of rediscounts held rose above
$47,000,000 and note circulation went above $115,000,000 for a day or two.
In comparison with figures for January 15 last year,
those shown on the statement of the Federal Reserve
Bank of Richmond for January 15, 1932, indicate a
much heavier reliance this year on the reserve bank by
member banks. Rediscounts rose $21,404,000 during
the year, nearly doubling the January 15, 1931, figure,
and the amount of Federal reserve notes in circulation
was $20,053,000 higher on the 1932 date. During the
year, member banks reduced their reserve deposits by
$10,520,000. The Richmond reserve bank decreased
its portfolio of assets other than rediscounts by $5,214,000, but the material increase in rediscount hold­
ings raised the total earning assets of the Bank by
$16,190,000 during the year. The increased demand
for reserve bank credit this year lowered the cash re­
serves of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond by
$6,162,000 below the relatively high figure on January
15, 1931, and also reduced the ratio of cash reserves to
note and deposit liabilities combined by 8.62 points.

Member Bank Statement
ITEMS

Jan. 13
1932

000 omitted
Dec. 9
Jan. 14
1931
1931

Loans on stocks and bonds (in­
cluding Governments) _____ $144,624 $144,255 $171,228
224,712 231,172 272,116
All other loans-----------------369,336 375,427 443,344
Total loans and discounts—
Investments in stocks & bonds.. 234,130 235,242 175,638
35,322
33,154
36,410
Reserve bal. with F. R. Bank....
15,312
15,838
14,088
Cash in vaults-------------------295,997 309,528 332,427
Demand deposits __________
Time deposits -------------------- 224,457 229,639 239,462
16,003
6,121
22,617
Borrowed from F. R. Bank.—

The accompanying table shows the principal items
of condition of forty-nine regularly reporting member

MONTHLY REVIEW
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 under­
stood 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 in­
terval between the dates.
During the month between December 9 and January
13, total loans and discounts held by the forty-nine re­
porting banks declined by $6,091,000, all of the net
decrease occurring in agricultural and commercial loans.
A decrease in loans at the end of the year is seasonal,
but the liquidation this year was rather less than in
most years. The reporting banks also decreased their
investments in stocks and bonds by $1,112,000 during
the month, and lowered their reserve balance at the re­
serve bank by $2,168,000. Cash in vaults rose by
$526,000 between December 9 and January 13. Ag­
gregate deposits in the forty-nine banks declined $18,713,000 last month, demand deposits falling $13,531,000
and time deposits decreasing $5,182,000. The reduc­
tion in loans would naturally bring about a decrease in
deposits, but the loss last month was much more than
is accounted for by the repayment of loans. The un­
usual withdrawals caused the reporting banks to in­
crease their borrowing at the reserve bank by $6,614,000
between December 9 and January 13.
A comparison of the January 13, 1932, figures with
those, for January 14, 1931, shows increases in invest­
ments, cash in vaults, and in borrowing at the reserve
bank during the year, but all other items declined.
Total loans and discounts decreased $74,008,000 be­
tween the middle of January last year and this, loans

3

on stocks and bonds decreasing $26,604,000 and all
other loans falling $47,404,000. Aggregate deposits
declined $51,435,000 during the year, demand deposits
falling $36,430,000 and time deposits $15,005,000. The
decrease in deposits was materially less than might have
been expected to accompany a larger decline in loans.
Investments in stocks and bonds by the forty-nine re­
porting banks increased $58,492,000 between the 1931
and 1932 dates, cash in vaults rose by $1,750,000, and
borrowing at the reserve bank increased by $16,496,000.
Most of the increased borrowing occurred in the past
four months.

Savings and Time Deposits
Savings deposits in twelve mutual savings banks in
Baltimore increased slightly during December, prob­
ably due to the crediting of interest at the year’s end.
Deposits on December 31 totaled $213,515,559, com­
pared with $212,948,740 on November 30, 1931, and
$198,794,363 on December 31, 1930. In 1929, when
employment conditions were much better than they
were in either 1930 or 1931, deposits in the twelve re­
porting banks in Baltimore increased only $1,887,273,
while in 1930 there was a rise of $9,745,618, and in
1931, the worst of the three years, deposits rose $14,721,196. Time deposits in forty-nine reporting mem­
ber banks declined during the past month from $229,639,000 on December 9, 1931, to $224,457,000 on
January 13, 1932, and on the latter date compared un­
favorably with deposits aggregating $239,462,000 on
January 14, 1931. It should be mentioned, however,
that time deposits in reporting member banks do not
represent actual savings accounts to as great a degree
as they do in the deposits in mutual savings banks.

DEBITS TO INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS
CITIES
Asheville, N. C----------------Baltimore, Md. ---------------Charleston, S. C.--------------Charleston, W. Va------------Charlotte, N. C.---------------Columbia, S. C----------------Cumberland, Md. _________
Danville, V a .------------------Durham, N. C.----------------Greensboro, N. C.------------Greenville, S. C.---------------Hagerstown, M d.------------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 T o tals_________




Total Debits During the Five Weeks Ended
Jan. 14, 1931
Jan. 13, 1932
Dec. 9, 1931
$

14,343,000
389,766,000
24.360.000
51.468.000
48.343.000
23.286.000
8.269.000
9.053.000
23.805.000
18.512.000
16.690.000
7.644.000
17.600.000
19.811.000
13.042.000
51.843.000
5.643.000
32.192.000
146.485.000
30.862.000
11.058.000
261.883.000
12.981.000
42.104.000

$1,281,043,000

$

12,671,000
357,873,000
11.400.000
40.896.000
43.641.000
24.272.000
8.005.000
9.820.000
28.918.000
20.275.000
16.666.000
7.302.000
16.757.000
17.404.000
11.836.000
52.340.000
6,037,000
27.038.000
140.181.000
30.345.000
10.171.000
250.095.000
10.665.000
32.641.000

$1,187,249,000

Annual Totals
1931

1930

15,465,000
494.672.000
22.170.000
56.016.000
50.722.000
46.426.000
10.149.000
10.134.000
29.783.000
26.133.000
19.453.000
10.538.000
25.099.000
23.496.000
14.228.000
68.099.000
5,449,000
34.453.000
168.447.000
34.333.000
15.125.000
288,136,000
.17,014,000
40.097.000

$ 139,608,000
4.413.211.000
208.428.000
456.759.000
500.477.000
258.860.000
95.058.000
82.998.000
290.147.000
214.543.000
181.083.000
96.033.000
191.327.000
199.056.000
128.476.000
565.561.000
54.437.000
259.468.000
1.478.255.000
311.114.000
111.076.000
2.772.213.000
134.651.000
393^28,000

$ 298,131,000
5.165.821.000
290.223.000
502.862.000
582.145.000
303.263.000
112.145.000
98.781.000
321.971.000
257.023.000
218.680.000
116,180,000
251.691.000
231.174.000
138.258.000
681.618.000
58.573.000

$1,525,637,000

$13,536,067,000

$15,588,979,000

$

287t663t000

1.655.672.000
365.827.000
144.674.000
2.899.966.000
170.001.000
436.637.000

4

MONTHLY REVIEW

The table on page 3 shows debits to individual,
firm and corporation accounts in the clearing house
banks in twenty-four leading trade centers of the Fifth
Federal reserve district, three equal periods of five
weeks being given to allow for comparison of the
latest available figures with those of the preceding like
period and the corresponding period a year ago. In
addition, total debits are shown by cities and the dis­
trict for the calendar years 1931 and 1930.
Debits figures for five weeks ended January 13, 1932,
showed a seasonal increase amounting to $93,794,000,
or 7.9 per cent, over aggregate debits in the preceding
five weeks, ended December 9, 1931, the increase being
due in part to holiday trade but principally to the large
volume of payments falling due on January 1. Of the
twenty-four reporting cities, eighteen reported higher
figures for the more recent period, while six cities
failed to show the seasonal increase. Three of the six
decreases, in Columbia, Durham and Greensboro, were
probably due to closed banks in the later period, and
Danville’s decline was due at least in part to the holiday
suspension of tobacco marketing. All of the larger
cities except Norfolk showed higher figures in the
period ended January 13.
In comparison with debits aggregating $1,525,637,000
reported for five weeks ended January 14, 1931, this
year’s figures for the corresponding period show a de­
cline of $244,594,000, or 16.0 per cent. Only three
cities, Charleston, S. C., Portsmouth and WinstonSalem, reported higher figures for the current period.
The decreases in this year’s figures were due in part
to a generally reduced volume of business and in part
to lower prices in many lines.
Total debits in the twenty-four reporting cities for
1931 showed a decrease of $2,052,912,000, or 13.2 per
cent, in comparison with debits in 1930. The decrease
was district wide, every one of the reporting cities
showing lower figures for the later year. Washington,
with a decline of only 4.4 per cent, made the best rec­
ord for 1931 in comparison with 1930, while Newport
News and Portsmouth tied for second place with de­
creases of 7.1 per cent. The district total of debits in
the twenty-four reporting cities in 1931 was the lowest
for any year since 1922.

Commercial Failures

The pressure of year-end settlements usually causes
business failures to increase in December, but this year
the rise was chiefly in liabilities. Failures in the Fifth
district in December totaled 140, compared with 139 in
both November 1931 and December 1930. The in­
crease in comparison with the preceding month was the
smallest reported for any December since 1923. Ag­
gregate liabilities involved in last month’s insolvencies
made a much worse record than the number of failures,
liabilities totaling $4,301,830 comparing with $2,570,911 for November 1931 and $3,131,419 for December
1930. In the United States, failures in December 1931
exceeded December 1930 failures by 9.2 per cent, but
total liabilities in the nation decreased 12.5 per cent,
chiefly due to very high figures in December 1930 in
the Atlanta and St. Louis reserve districts.




The year 1931 witnessed 1,574 failures in the Fifth
reserve district, with liabilities totaling $34,880,659.
These figures show increases of l/10th of 1 per cent
and 6.3 per cent, respectively, over 1,572 failures and
liabilities totaling $32,806,719 in 1930. The number
of insolvencies last year was less than those of 1927
and 1922, but exceeded those of all other years since
the World War. Last year’s liabilities compared more
favorably with earlier years, being less than liabilities
reported in five of the preceding twelve years.

Employment

There was no improvement in employment condi­
tions in December and early January, and the year
ended with a larger number of unemployed than a year
earlier. During 1931 the number of idle workers in­
creased gradually but steadily, and wage and salary
reductions spread as business experienced the second
year of depression. Weather this winter has been un­
usually favorable for outside work and seasonal addi­
tions to unemployment have probably been less than
in most years. The mild weather has also helped the
people who are out of work by reducing fuel and cloth­
ing requirements.

Coal Production
Bituminous coal production in the United States in
December totaled 30,260,000 net tons, a higher figure
than 30,110,000 tons mined in November, but on a
daily basis December showed a decline from the out­
put of the earlier month. In December 1930, produc­
tion of soft coal totaled 40,222,000 net tons. Total
production for the year 1931 was approximately 378,110.000 net tons, compared with 467,526,000 tons
mined in 1930. Shipments of coal through Hampton
Roads in December totaled approximately 1,812,000
tons, and total shipments from January 1 through De­
cember 31 totaled 20,445,000 tons.
The January 2, 1932, report of the Bureau of Mines,
Department of Commerce, gave bituminous coal pro­
duction by states for the month of November. West
Virginia continued in first place with 7,790,000 tons,
Pennsylvania ranking second with an output of 7,280.000 tons.

Textiles
Fifth district textile mills continued to operate in
December at a higher rate than in December 1930, but
showed a seasonal recession from the rate of operations
maintained in November 1931. Cotton consumed in
the district in December totaled 198,076 bales, of which
North Carolina mills used 102,259 bales, South Caro­
lina mills used 86,96£ bales, and Virginia mills 8,851
bales. In November 1931 the mills in the Carolinas
and Virginia consumed 212,884 bales, and in Decem­
ber 1930 they used 184,815 bales. Total consumption
in 1931 amounted to 2,507,332 bales, an increase of 5.6
per cent over 2,375,299 bales consumed in 1930. Con­
sumption of cotton in the Richmond reserve district in
December 1931 totaled 47.7 per cent of National con­
sumption, compared with 49.6 per cent in November
1931 and 45.6 per cent in December 1930.

MONTHLY REVIEW

Cotton Statistics
Spot cotton prices between December 11 and Janu­
ary IS were higher than in the preceding month, but
were about 3 cents per pound lower than in the corre­
sponding period of the preceding year. The advance
last month was from an average of 5.77 cents per pound
on December 11 for middling grade 7/8 inch staple
upland cotton to 6.25 cents per pound on January 15.
The rise in price was caused chiefly by a somewhat
better foreign demand.
Cotton consumption in American mills in December
1931 totaled 415,517 bales, according to the report of
the Bureau of the Census made public on January 14.
This figure shows a seasonal decrease from 428,870
bales consumed during the month of November, but is
2.5 per cent more than 405,518 bales consumed in De­
cember 1930.
Total consumption during the five
months of the present cotton year amounted to 2,195,935 bales, compared with 2,010,133 bales consumed
during the five months ended December 31, 1930. Cot­
ton on hand at manufacturing establishments on De­
cember 31, 1931, totaled 1,630,543 bales, compared
with 1,441,165 bales held on November 30, 1931, and
1,655,537 bales held on December 31, 1930. Bales in
public warehouses and compresses numbered 10,425,945 at the end of December, against 10,695,797 bales
at the end of November, and 8,375,943 bales on De­
cember 31, 1930. Exports of cotton totaled 1,181,089
bales in December, compared with 1,070,643 bales sent
abroad in November 1931 and 765,775 bales in De­
cember 1930. Imports last month totaled 12,705 bales,
compared with 5,986 bales imported in November and
4,461 bales in December 1930. Consumption of cotton
in the cotton growing states totaled 344,362 bales in
December, compared with 321,515 bales used in De­
cember 1930. Last month’s consumption in the cotton
growing states amounted to 82.88 per cent of National
consumption, compared with 79.29 per cent of National
consumption used in the cotton growing states in De­
cember a year ago. Of the 344,362 bales consumed
in the cotton growing states last month, Fifth reserve
district states used 198,076 bales or 57.52 per cent.

Tobacco Marketing
North Carolina tobacco markets sold 65,058,914
pounds of producers’ tobacco in December 1931, com­
pared with 73,449,151 pounds sold in December 1930.
Total sales this season to January 1, 1932, amounted to
422,631,212 pounds, compared with sales totaling 490,595,793 pounds sold of the 1930 crop prior to January
1, 1931. Prices received in North Carolina last month
averaged only $6.74 per hundred pounds, a much lower
figure than $12.54 per hundred received for tobacco
sold in December a year ago. Wilson led in sales in
December with 8,668,944 pounds, and Winston-Salem
ranked second with 8,501,864 pounds. In total sales
this season, Greenville leads with 56,786,554 pounds,
Wilson ranking second with 55,852,222 pounds and
Rocky Mount third with 35,741,472 pounds. Ashe­
ville, the only Burley market in North Carolina, led in
price in December with $9.22 per hundred pounds, but




5

Mebane led the Bright tobacco markets with $8.83 per
hundred.
Virginia leaf markets sold 25,049,854 pounds of to­
bacco during December, at an average of $6.38 per
hundred, according to warehouse reports to the Com­
missioner of Agriculture. Total sales for the season
to December 31 were 62,902,461 pounds at an average
of $7.42 per hundred pounds, compared with 76,851,
100 pounds at an average of $9.47 sold to December
31, 1930. Fire-cured sales last month amounted to
16,110,493 pounds at an average of $6.18 per hundred.
The average price for flue-cured tobacco to December
31 is $7.62 per hundred pounds, the lowest since 1899,
which averaged $6.31 per hundred. Sales of firecured tobacco amounted to 5,122,656 pounds in De­
cember, at an average of $4.67 per hundred, and the
average price received for this type prior to Decem­
ber 31 was $4.73 per hundred. Burley sales totaled
3,321,325 pounds last month, at an average of $10.18
per hundred pounds. Sun-cured sales have been light
this season, and in December totaled only 495,380
pounds. The average price of December sales was
$5.22. According to estimates of warehousemen, De­
cember sales of all types graded 15 per cent good, 34
per cent medium, and 51 per cent common, compared
with December 1930 grades of 13 per cent good, 29
per cent medium, and 58 per cent common. Among
the individual markets, Danville led in December sales
with 8,566,866 pounds, South Boston ranking second
with 3,347,080 pounds. Abingdon and Richmond, Bur­
ley markets, led in price last month at $10.18 per hun­
dred, while Danville led all other markets at $7.11 per
hundred.

Crop Estimates
Crop yields in the Fifth Federal reserve district in
1931 were much larger than yields in 1930, taking total
figures for the district, and compared very favorably
with the ten-year average production. The three states
of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, which suf­
fered severely from the drought in 1930, accounted for
most of the increase in yields last year, but the Caro­
linas also reported larger yields of all important crops
except tobacco. Production of food and feed crops
increased markedly in 1931.
Prices for agricultural products in 1931 declined
further, reaching in most cases the lowest levels in
many years. According to the December 16 report of
the Bureau of Agricultural Economics of the U. S.
Department of Agriculture, the farm value of all crops
grown in 1931 in the Fifth district was 27 per cent
less than the aggregate value of 1930 crops, and 46
per cent below the 1929 value. West Virginia was
the only state in the district whcih showed higher crop
values for 1931 than for 1930, and even in West Vir­
ginia last year’s crops were 37 per cent below those of
1929 in value. Apples and sorghum syrup were the
only crops in the Fifth district which were more valu­
able in 1931 than in 1930.
We include a table showing crop yields in the Fifth
Federal reserve district for 1931 and 1930, and be­
cause 1930 was exceptionally dry and therefore does

6

MONTHLY REVIEW

not furnish a fair basis of comparison, production fig­ the table are estimates by the Department of Agri­
ures for 1929 are also shown. The 1931 figures are
final official estimates by the Department of Agricul­ culture, and are based for the most part on December
ture as of December 1. The farm values included in 1 prices.
Crops

Yrs.

Corn (bus.) ____________ ...1931
1930
1929
Cotton ('bales') ............................1931
1930
1929
Tobacco (lbs.) ---------------- 1931
1930
1929
Irish Potatoes (bus.)-------- ...1931
1930
1929
Sweet Potatoes (bus.)-------...1931
1930
1929
Oats (bus.) ------------------ 1931
1930
1929
Wheat (bus.) ---- ----- ------- 1931
1930
1929
Hay (tons) ------------------- 1931
1930
1929
Peanuts (lbs.) ----------------...1931
1930
1929
Apples (bus.) ----------------- 1931
1930
1929
A nnf ac fvvIUUlCl r t a l Vh n K 1
n m m p r tl<*i i
1931
X\pj}iC2>9
1930
1929
Sorghum Syrup (gals.)------------ 1931
1930
1929
...1931
Estimated Crop Values-------------1930
Dec. 1 prices
1929

Construction

Maryland

W. Virginia

Virginia

N. Carolina

S. Carolina

20.710.000
6,858,000
15.718.000

12.934.000
5,052,000
12.326.000

-----------

-----------

31.540.000
16.625.000
24.750.000
3.360.000
2.520.000
3.390.000
2.013.000
630,000
1.629.000
2,010,000
1.470.000
1.316.000
9.696.000
11,063,000
9.108.000
469.000
309.000
484.000

5.328.000
3.906.000
5.513.000
3.200.000
2.394.000
3.780.000

43.061.000
16.478.000
35.187.000
43,000
42.000
48.000
106.276.000
112.530.000
119.794.000
14.160.000
13.689.000
15.244.000
4.750.000
2.960.000
5.076.000
4.838.000
2.630.000
2.642.000
13,266,000
9.160.000
8.607.000
993.000
424.000
988.000
165.240.000
100.080.000
158,620,000
21.889.000
7,700,000
13.054.000
3,500,000
1.450.000
3.100.000
210,000
80,000
122,000
$78,216,000
84,582,000
145,323,000

48.072.000
40.194.000
37.715.000
775,000
775.000
747.000
468.520.000
585.990.000
487.968.000
8.532.000
7.220.000
6.138.000
6.560.000
6.750.000
6.720.000
4.531.000
3.534.000
3.192.000
4.407.000
2.862.000
3,636,000
677.000
532.000
522.000
323.150.000
207.900.000
247.860.000
5.475.000
2.555.000
2.628.000
274,000
100,000
150,000
2.117.000
1.320.000
1.050.000
$136,160,000
213.171.000
257.685.000

22.994.000
22.200.000
20,184,000
1,015,000
1,001,000
830,000
70.070.000
98.600.000
87.084.000
3.550.000
2.835.000
2.600.000
3.180.000
4.655.000
5.029.000
9.450.000
7.912.000
8.485.000
689.000
340.000
520.000
178.000
144.000
144.000
13,000,000
11,200,000
11,760,000
374.000
300.000
180.000

------------------------

3.552.000
2.660.000
3,374,000
2.373.000
1.838.000
1.362.000
650.000
317.000
739.000
------------------------

------------------------

3.582.000
1.650.000
2.200.000
580.000
330.000
455.000

12.954.000
4.306.000
5.716.000
1,597,000
680,000
1,400,000

------------------------

$39,480,000
41.072.000
62.590.000

$27,043,000
25.569.000
43.138.000

Building permits issued in thirty-two leading dries
of the Fifth Federal reserve district in December 1931
numbered 1,826, a higher number than 1,791 permits
issued in the same cities in December 1930, but esti­
mated valuation figures for December 1931 totaled only
$3,039,037, a decrease of 28.2 per cent under $4,235,329 valuation for permits issued in December 1930.
Ten of the thirty-two reporting cities showed higher
figures for December 1931 than for December 1930,
Greensboro making the best record for the later month
in proportion to population. The three largest cities,
Baltimore, Washington and Richmond, reported rela­
tively low figures last month. During the year 1931,
permits issued in the thirty-two reporting cities^totaled
34,484, compared with 35,091 permits issued in 1930




--------486.000
350.000
260.000
$ 71,214,000
118.657.000
140.744.000

and 42,122 permits in 1929. Estimated valuation fig­
ures last year totaled $80,739,801, compared with $97,992,273 in 1930 and $131,888,967 in 1929.
Contracts awarded in December for construction
work in the Fifth district, including both rural and
urban projects, totaled $11,677,650, compared with
$19,644,097 awarded in November 1931 and $28,139,023 in December 1930, according to figures collected by
the F. W. Dodge Corporation. Of the awards in De­
cember 1931, $3,741,530 was for residential work, com­
pared with $7,934,998 for this type of work in De­
cember 1930. Annual figures for 1931 on contracts
awarded in the Fifth district total $243,595,366, a de­
crease of 31 per cent in comparison with contracts
totaling $352,912,092 awarded in 1930.

MONTHLY REVIEW

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

Permits Issued
1931
1930

Baltimore, Md............ 819
Cumberland, Md........
6
Frederick, Md............ 11
Hagerstown, Md.......8
Salisbury, Md............ 16
Danville, Va..............
8
Lynchburg, Va........... 24
Norfolk, V a.______
72
Petersburg, Va..........
2
Portsmouth, Va......... 17
Richmond, Va............ 68
Roanoke, Va.............. 18
Bluefield, W. Va
4
Charleston, W. Va..... 47
Clarksburg, W* Va...
9
Huntington, W. Va..... 14
Asheville, N. C.____ 18
Charlotte, N. C.____ 27
Durham, N. C.____
8
Greensboro, N. C, ~ 32
High Point, N. C_
_
18
Raleigh, N. C._____
14
Rocky Mount, N. C...
5
Salisbury, N. C.____
2
Wilmington, N. C
19
Winston-Salem, N. C. 32
Charleston, S. C.
32
Columbia, S. C_____ 33
Greenville, S. C........ 13
Rock Hill, S. C .....
7
Spartanburg, S. C---7
Washington, D. C.__ 416
Totals ________

1.826

Total Valuation
1930
1931

850
5
6
8
20
5
27
87
6
21
77
25
7
18
8
13
19
42
8
26
9
19
5
2
14
52
36
26
21
6
22
301

$ 801,600 $1,842,240
5,465
1,675
1,580
3,040
19,100
5,270
18,240
11,855
9,365
3,045
131,910
30,490
109,148
63,765
10,505
3,200
18,385
7,360
64,883
125,991
19,287
41,654
3,450
14,350
94,149
112,023
2,622
6,550
13,275
3,535
7,234
3,850
28,511
65,419
8,725
17,650
642,314
21,320
31,375
18,075
21,555
65,580
5,490
3,900
4,375
2,525
33,300
34,950
22,684
,40,595
32,028
39,435
23,210
118,570
14,340
29,400
2,805
8,765
2,055
13,414
925,785 1,386,125

1,791

$3.039.037 $4235,329

Retail Trade, 34 Department Stores

Richmond Baltimore Washington Oth. Cities District

December 1931 sales, compared with sales in December 1930:
—12.3
—10.7
— 7.4
—12.3
— 9.7
Total sales during 1931, compared with sales in 1930:
_ 8.9
_ 7.8
— 2.1
—13.5
— 6.3
Dec. 31, 1931, stock, compared with stock on Dec. 31, 1930:
—14.2
—13.1
— 6.8
—16.1
—11.3
Dec. 31, 1931, stock, compared with stock on Nov. 30, 1931:
—24.2
—20.2
—23.6
—23.1
—22.3
Number of times stock was turned in December 1931:
.591
.562
.62
.397
.567
Number of times stock was turned during the year 1931:
4.008
3.998
4.243
2.841
3.941
Percentage of Dec. 1, 1931, receivables collected in Dec.:
31.3
25.2
31.5
27.4
28.1

In comparison with sales during the early fall
months, department store sales in the Fifth Federal
reserve district showed the usual seasonal increase in
December, but averaged 9.7 per cent less than sales in
December 1930. In total sales for the year, reporting
stores in the district showed a decline of 6.3 per cent
in 1931 sales in comparison with total sales in 1930.




7

Stocks of goods on the shelves of the reporting
stores declined 22.3 per cent during the month of De­
cember 1931, and at the end of the year were 11.3 per
cent smaller, at selling prices, than stocks on hand at
the end of 1930. Stocks were turned an average of
.567 times during the month of December, and in the
year 1931 stocks were turned an average of 3.941
times a higher figure than 3.62 times in the preceding
year.
Collections in December averaged 28.1 per cent of
outstanding receivables on December 1, 1931, a higher
figure than 27.3 per cent for November 1931, but
slightly lower than 28.7 per cent collected in December
1930.

W holesale Trade, 63 Firms
2!T

9

Groceries Dry Goods

6

Shoes

14

Hardware

12

Drugs

December 1931 sales, compared with sales in December 1930:
—14,7
—14.1
+ 6.2
—13.3
— 8.8
December 1931 sales, compared with sales in November 1931:
+ 4.1
—25.0
-38.7
—13.7
+ 1.9
Total sales during 1931, compared with sales in 1930:
—17.1
—21.4
— 7.8
—22.2
— 8.8
Dec. 31, 1931 stocks, compared with Dec. 31, 1930 stocks:
—22.6(8*) —31.0(4*) —20.0(5*) —13.8(7*)
----Dec. 31, 1931 stocks, compared with Nov. 30, 1931 stocks:
—10.9(8*) —12.1 (4*) — 7.2(5*) — 1.9(7*)
----Percentage of Dec. 1, 1931, receivables collected in December:
60.3(14*) 36.9(6*)
48.2(6*)
27.7(11*) 49.3(8*)

* Number of reporting firms!

Wholesale trade in the Fifth Federal reserve dis­
trict in December, as indicated by reports from sixtythree firms in five lines, was in smaller volume in every
line except groceries and drugs than in November, and
in every line except shoes than in December 1930. The
decreases in December sales under those of November
were largely seasonal, and part of the decline in com­
parison with December 1930 sales was due to lower
wholesale prices this year. Total sales for the year
1931 were smaller in every line reported upon than
sales in 1930.
All stocks at the end of December were smaller than
at the end of the preceding month, a seasonal develop­
ment, and stocks on December 31 were also materially
smaller than stocks a year earlier.
Collections in December were better than in No­
vember in groceries and dry goods, unchanged in shoes,
and slower in hardware and drugs. In comparison with
collections in December 1930, those of December 1931
were better in shoes, but compared unfavorably in the
other four lines.
(Compiled January 21, 1932)

MONTHLY REVIEW

8

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

Industrial activity declined from November to De­
cember by slightly more than the usual seasonal
amount, while the volume of factory employment
showed about the usual decrease. Wholesale prices de­
clined further.

Production and Employment
Volume of industrial output decreased somewhat
more than is usual in December and the Board's sea­
sonally adjusted index declined from 72 per cent of
the 1923-1925 average in November to 71 per cent in
December. Activity in the steel industry decreased
from 30 to 24 per cent of capacity for the month,
partly as a result of seasonal influences; in the first
three weeks of January it showed a seasonal increase.
Automobile output increased considerably in Decem­
ber from the extreme low level of the preceding month,
and daily average output at shoe factories, which ordi­
narily declines at this season, showed little change. At
textile mills production was curtailed by more than the
usual seasonal amount.
Number employed at factories decreased seasonally
from the middle of November to the middle of De­
cember. In the automobile and shoe industries there
were large increases in employment, while in the cloth­
ing industries employment declined; in most lines, how­
ever, changes were of a seasonal character.
For the year 1931 as a whole the average volume of
industrial production was about 16 per cent smaller
than in 1930, reflecting large decreases in output of
steel, automobiles, and building materials, offset in part
by slight increases in production of textiles and shoes.
Value of building contracts awarded, as reported by
the F. W. Dodge Corporation, declined considerably
more than is usual from the third to the fourth quarter,
and for the year as a whole was 32 per cent smaller
than in 1930, reflecting reduced physical volume of
construction, as well as lower building costs.

Distribution
Distribution of commodities by rail declined by the
usual seasonal amount in December, and department
store sales increased by approximately the usual
amount




Foreign Trade

Value of foreign trade continued at a low level in
December and for the year as a whole exports showed
a decline of 37 per cent from 1930 and imports a dedine of 32 per cent, reflecting in part the reduction in
prices.

W holesale Prices

Wholesale prices of commodities declined from 68
per cent of the 1926 average in ^November to 66 per
cent in December, according to the Bureau of Labor
Statistics, reflecting decreases in the prices of many
domestic agricultural products, sugar, silk, iron and
steel, and petroleum products. During the first half
of January prices of hogs, lard, and butter declined
further, while prices of cotton, silk, coffee, and copper
increased.

Bank Credit

Reserve bank credit, which had declined from the
middle of October to the middle of December and had
increased in the latter part of the month, declined again
in the first three weeks in January.
The growth in the latter part of December reflected a
somewhat more-than-seasonal increase in the demand
for currency, partly offset by reductions in member
bank reserve balances and in deposits of foreign cen­
tral banks. In January the return flow of currency
was considerably smaller than in other recent years,
while member bank reserve balances continued to de­
cline. Acceptance holdings of the reserve banks, which
had reached a total of $780,000,000 in October, have
declined through maturing of bills held almost unin­
terruptedly since that time, and on January 20 totaled
$190,000,000. The banks' portfolio of United States
Government securities showed some increase over the
level of* the early part of December, and discounts for
member banks increased substantially.
Loans and investments of member banks in leading
cities declined further during December and the first
I two weeks of January, reflecting reductions in loans on
securities, as well as in other loans, and in investments.
In the middle of January buying rates for •bankers'
acceptances at the Federal reserve banks were reduced
and open-market rates on 90-day bills declined first
from 3 to 2 7/8 per cent and later to 2 3/4 per cent.
Yields of high-grade bonds, after advancing for a
period of about four months, declined after the turn
of the year, reflecting a rise in bond prices.

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