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MONTHLY

REVIEW

CREDI T, B U S I N E S S AND A G R I C U L T U R A L CONDI TI ONS

FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF RICHMOND

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA

May 31, 1937
April 1937

Debits to individual accounts (24 cities)................................
Number of business failures, 5th district..................................
Liabilities involved in failures, 5th district...............................
Cotton consumption, 5th district (Bales)................................
Building Permits issued (31 cities).........................................
Value of building permits (31 cities).......................................
Value of contracts awarded, 5th district..................................
Total sales, 57 department stores, 5th district..........................
Total sales, 56 wholesale firms in 5 lines..................................
Registrations, new passenger automobiles................................
Bituminous coal production, U. S. (Tons)...... .......................

T

H E curve of improvement in
business tended to flatten some­
what in April and early May, but on
the whole trade and industry con­
tinued on levels materially above those
of the corresponding period last year.
The earlier Easter date this year
caused March to show an exceptional
volume of trade, and naturally April
showed some recession. Sales in de­
partment stores in the Fifth district
last month lacked about 3 per cent of
equaling the volume of sales in April
last year, but Easter’s seasonal buying
was done in April last year and in
March this year. Wholesale trade,
which is less affected by the Easter
date, showed about the same rate of increase last
month over 1936 as in earlier months this year. Regis­
tration of new passenger automobiles in the district
showed a smaller increase in April over April 1936
registrations than earlier months in 1937. The volume
of work provided for in building permits issued last
month was smaller than that provided for in March,
but was 12 per cent larger than the April 1936 valu­
ation. Coal production in April this year dropped
sharply below the March figure, chiefly because fear




April 1936

$1,314,915,000
36
$
348,000
332,253
3,381
$
8,677,686
$ 32,606,300
$
9,222,094
$ 5,585,679
26,987
25,735,000

$1,098,267,000
37
$
437,000
276,894
3,236
$
7,781,193
$ 19,460,300
$
9,500,611
$ 4,672,091
25,644
30,452,000

% Change
+25.0
— 2.7
—20.4
+20.0
+ 4.5
+11.5
+67.6
— 2.9
+19.6
+ 5.2
—15.5

of a possible general strike in bitumi­
nous fields on April 1 had stimulated
production in March and built up ex­
cessive reserve stocks, which were
drawn upon in April. Tobacco manu­
facturing last month declined from the
high level of March, but in all lines
except snuff continued above 1936 out­
put. Cotton consumption in Fifth dis­
trict textile mills declined in April
from the record level of March, but
was 20 per cent above consumption in
April last year. Debits to individual
accounts in April showed a seasonal
decrease from March debits, but were
nearly 20 per cent higher than debits
in April 1936. Spot cotton prices de­
clined in the latter half of April and the first half of
May, but are still higher than at this season in any year
except 1935 since 1930. Most of the changes on the
statement of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
in the past month were seasonal or were of relatively
little importance. The most interesting development
of the past month was the increase in reserve require­
ments on May 1 which brought these requirements up
to double the base percentages prescribed in the Fed­
eral Reserve Act. The increase on May 1 was the

2

MONTHLY REVIEW

third since last summer, all of which were put into ef­
fect by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve
System in order to impound some of the large excess
reserves which accumulated in recent years. The com­
posite statement of regularly reporting member banks
showed only minor changes during the past month.
Employment showed little net change during April.
Some decrease in industrial workers was probably off­
set or perhaps exceeded by increases, largely seasonal,
in such fields as construction and agriculture. Agricul­
tural prospects are good on the whole in the Fifth
district, and farm work is farther advanced than at
this time last year. It is too early to estimate probable
yields, but grain crops are in excellent condition, and
weather has been favorable for land preparation and
planting of Spring crops. Actual growth has recently
been retarded by cool weather, but with plenty of mois­
ture in the soil this backwardness will be overcome
quickly when warm weather comes.
Reserve Bank Statement
ITEMS

May 15
1937

$
Discounts held ...................................
Open market paper ......................... .......

363
149
2,667
Government securities ..................... ........ 133,035
$136,214
Total earning assets ..................... .
195,474
Circulation of Fed. Res. notes........ ., , ,
226,547
Members’ reserve deposits ..............
302,729
Cash reserves ....................................
69.66
Reserve ratio .................................... ........

000 omitted
May 15
April 15
1936
1937
$

414
120
2,704
131,609
$134,847
196,191
213,880
297,126
69.85

$

46
191
4,164
116,716
$121,117
172,999
177,110
273,952
70.51

Total earning assets of the Federal Reserve Bank
of Richmond increased by $1,367,000 between April
15 and May 15, both this year. Discounts held de­
clined by $51,000 and industrial advances dropped by
$37,000, while open market paper in the Bank’s port­
folio rose by $29,000 and Government securities owned
increased by $1,426,000. As usually occurs at this sea­
son, the actual circulation of Federal Reserve notes
dropped by $717,000 during the past month. Member
bank reserve deposits rose by $12,667,000 between the
middle of April and the middle of May, partly due to
increased reserve requirements which went into effect
on May 1. Most member banks had sufficient excess
reserves to meet the higher requirements, but a rela­
tively small number found it necessary to add to their
reserve deposits. The several changes mentioned in
the statement, with others of less importance, raised
the cash reserves of the Richmond Reserve bank by
$5,603,000, but the ratio of cash reserves to note and
deposit liabilities combined declined by 19/100ths of
1 point.
Between May 15, 1936, and the corresponding date
this year, all items on the statement increased except
the portfolio of open market paper and loans made
direct to industry for working capital, which declined
$42,000 and $1,497,000, respectively. Discounts rose
by $317,000 during the year, and Government securi­
ties owned increased by $16,319,000. The net change
in total earning assets of the Bank was a rise of
$15,097,000 during the year. The volume of Federal
Reserve notes in actual circulation rose by $22,475,000
between the middle of May last year and this, chiefly




due to increased business activity and higher price
levels in many lines this year. Member bank reserve
deposits rose by $49,437,000 during the period under
review, the increase being only partly accounted for by
100 per cent higher reserve requirements in force in
May this year. Much of the increase in reserves was
caused by further accumulation of funds for which
member banks were unable to find profitable employ­
ment. Cash reserves of the Federal Reserve Bank of
Richmond rose by $28,777,000 during the year, but the
ratio of cash reserves to note and deposit liabilities
combined decreased by 85/100ths of 1 point.
Statement of 41 Member Banks
ITEMS
Total loans and discounts................ . . . .
Investments in securities ..............
Reserve bal. with F. R. B a n k ........
Cash in vaults ...................................
Demand deposits ...............................
Time deposits .....................................
Money borrowed .................................

May 12
1937
$241,505
384,498
134,748
19,688
475,622
19*8,825
4,500

000 omitted
April 14
1937

May 13
1936

$240,365
390,270
128,626
19,837
470,213
197,083
0

$204,337
394,585
126,883
17,685
414,668
193,436
0

The principal items on the statement of condition of
41 regularly reporting member banks in 12 cities of
the Fifth Federal Reserve district are shown in the
accompanying table for three dates, thus affording
opportunity for comparison of the latest available fig­
ures with those a month and a year earlier. The fig­
ures in the table are not necessarily the highest or
lowest figures which occurred during the periods re­
viewed, but represent the composite condition of the
41 banks on the report dates.
Total loans and discounts rose by $1,140,000 during
the past month and $37,168,000 during the year. On
the other hand investments in securities decreased by
$5,772,000 between April 14 and May 12, 1937, and
dropped by $10,087,000 since May 13, 1936. Aggre­
gate reserve balance of the reporting banks rose by
$6,122,000 between April 14 and May 12, and on the
latter date showed an increase of $7,865,000 since May
13, 1936. Cash in vaults declined by $149,000 during
the month, but rose by $2,003,000 for the year. Total
deposits rose last month and on May 12 were much
higher than a year ago. Demand deposits rose by
$5,409,000 during the month and $60,954,000 during
the year, while time deposits rose by $1,742,000 and
$5,389,000 last month and year, respectively. For the
first time in several years the May 12 statement of
reporting banks showed money borrowed of $4,500,000
from sources other than the Reserve bank. This sum
represented the temporary need of one institution for
additional funds, the bank evidently borrowing in pref­
erence to selling securities, of which it held a large
volume.
Time and Savings Deposits

Time deposits in forty-one reporting member banks
in the Fifth district and aggregate deposits in ten
mutual savings banks in Baltimore totaled $415,197,167
at the end of April 1937, a higher figure than either
$412,452,008 reported at the end of March this year
or $400,694,087 at the end of April last year. Both

MONTHLY REVIEW

the savings banks and the member banks reported
higher figures at the end of April than either a month
or a year earlier, the savings banks gaining 4.4 per
cent and the member banks 2.8 per cent during the
year. The month’s gains were less than 1 per cent in
each group of banks.
Debits to Individual Accounts
CITIES

April
1937

000 omitted
March
April
1937
1936

% of Change
Month
Year

Maryland
Baltimore ................ $
Cumberland ______
Hagerstown ............
3 Md. C ities___

370,813 $ 385,316 $ 317,749
9,122
9,549
8,733
9,309
9,121
7,805
389,244
403,986
334,287

—
—
+
—

D. of Columbia
Washington ............
1 D. of Col. City .

280,253
280,253

286,123
286,123

248,450
248,450

— 2.1 +12.8
— 2.1 +12.8

Virginia
Danville .................
Lynchburg ..............
Newport News ___
Norfolk ...................
Portsmouth ..............
Richmond ...............
Roanoke .................
7 Va. Cities........

8,460
15,732
9,954
52,591
4,240
150,047
33,375
274,399

9,392
15,636
10,120
56,324
4,211
153,981
30,122
279,786

6,366
13,917
8,876
46,659
3,703
124,449
25,711
229,681

— 9.9
+
.6
— 1.6
— 6.6
+
.7
— 2.6
+10.8
— 1.9

West Virginia
Charleston ..............
Huntington ............
2 W. Va. Cities .

55,157
19,744
74,901

54,988
20,381
75,369

43,955
16,758
60,713

North Carolina
Asheville ................
Charlotte ..................
Durham . . . . ___ . . .
Greensboro ..............
Raleigh ........ ...........
Wilmington ............
Winston-Salem ___
7 N. C. Cities

13,884
62,930
24,238
18,741
40,096
12,240
42,419
214,548

13,500
69,320
26,895
20,076
42,873
12,603
43,422
228,689

10,553
48,374
21,038
14,351
29,364
9,622
31,281
164,583

+
—
—
—
—
—
—
—

2.8
9.2
9.9
6.6
6.5
2.9
2.3
6.2

+31.6
+30.1
+15.2
+30.6
+36.5
4-27.2
+35.6
+30.4

South Carolina
Charleston ..............
Columbia .................
Greenville ................
Spartanburg ..........
4 S. C. Cities ___

19,577
28,937
22,325
10,731
81,570

20,286
31,982
23,077
10,872
86,217

16,074
21,590
15,656
7,233
60,553

—
—
—
—
—

3.5
9.5
3.3
1.3
5.4

+21.8
+34.0
+42.6
+48.4
+34.7

— 3.3

+19.7

District, 24 Citie® $ 1,314,915

$ 1,360,170

$ 1,098,267

3.8
4.5
2.1
3.6

+16.7
+ 4.5
+19.3
+16.4

+32.9
+13.0
+12.1
+12.7
+14.5
+20.6
+29.8
+19.5

+
.3 +25.5
— 3.1 +17.8
— .6 +23,4

Debits to individual, firm and corporation accounts
in the banks of twenty-four fifth district cities include
all checks debited against customers’ accounts in both
member and non-member banks, and furnish a good
indication of the volume of business passing through
the banks. Debits in April show a seasonal decline
of $45,255,000, or 3.3 per cent, in comparison with
debits in March, which was a longer month and also
contained a large volume of income tax payments
around March 15. In comparison with debits in April
1936, debits in April this year show an increase of
$216,648,000, or 19.7 per cent, which reflects for the
most part an increase in trade and industry this year.
Debits figures in April 1937 were higher than April
1936 figures in every reporting city in the Fifth dis­
trict, the increases ranging upward from 4.5 per cent
in Cumberland, Maryland, to 48.4 per cent in Spartan­
burg, S. C. Only one city increased less than 10 per
cent, nine cities rose between 10 and 20 per cent, five
cities rose between 20 and 30 per cent, seven cities
rose between 30 and 40 per cent, and two cities rose
between 40 and 50 per cent.




3

Commercial Failures

Business failures in the Fifth Federal Reserve dis­
trict in April 1937 showed a decrease of 1 in compari­
son with failures in April 1936, and aggregate liabili­
ties involved also were lower in the 1937 month. The
number of failures and total of liabilities involved in
the Fifth district and the United States for several
periods, as reported by Dun & Bradstreet, were as
follows:
Period

Number of Failures
District
U. S.

April 1937 .................
March 1937 ................
April 1936 ...............
4 Months, 1937 ..........
4 Months, 1936 ..........

36
53
37
194
174

786
820
830
3,138
3,709

Total Failures
District
U. S.
$ 348,000
359,000
437,000
$1,632,000
3,667,000

$ 8,906,000
10,922,000
14,157,000
$38,260,000
62,621,000

Employment

Seasonal increases in employment occurred in sev­
eral lines of work during the past month. Building
tradesmen and painters are in active demand, and more
employment is available for agricultural workers as
the season advances. Industries of the Fifth district
continued operations at high levels, and total payrolls
increased at many plants. Payrolls have recently in­
creased faster than reemployment, due to numerous
wage advances granted either voluntarily or as a result
of organized effort by labor. A number of small, local
strikes occurred, but on the whole differences between
labor and management have been settled with little
trouble.
The following figures, compiled for the most part
by the Bureau of Labor Statistics from reports fur­
nished by a large number of identical industries, show
the trends of employment and payrolls in the Fifth
district geographical divisions from February to March
1937, the latest available figures:

STATES

..............
..............
W^st Virginia ..................... ..............
North Carolina .....................
South Carolina ..................... .....................

Percentage change from
February to March
In number
In amount
on payroll
of payroll
+ 1.4
+ 1.0
+1-9
+ 3.0

+ 7.3
+ 2.3
+ 1.7
+ 7.8
+ 1.1
+ 2.4

Coal Production

There was a marked decline in bituminous coal pro­
duction in April in comparison with March this year,
partly due to an unusually high rate of output in the
earlier month as a result of strike threats and partly
to restricted output in certain fields where strikes did
develop in early April. Output of bituminous coal
last month totaled only 25,735,000 net tons, compared
with 51,315,000 tons mined in March 1937 and 30,452,000 tons in April 1936. On a daily basis, production
of 1,021,000 tons in April 1937 was 46 per cent less
than the daily output of 1,901,000 tons in March this
year and 16 per cent less than 1,208,000 tons per day

4

MONTHLY REVIEW

in April 1936. During the first four months of 1937
production of 160,100,000 net tons of bituminous coal
exceeded production of 142,930,000 tons during the
corresponding period last year by 12 per cent. Ship­
ments of coal through Hampton Roads ports this cal­
endar year to May 1 totaled 7,939,096 tons, 15 per cent
more than 6,926,142 tons shipped through the same
ports to May last year.
In its May 8 report the Bureau of Mines gave State
production figures for March 1937 and 1936, and the
Fifth district coal states, which dug 28.5 per cent of
the National total, were reported as follows:
Production
March 1937
(Tons)

STATES
West Virginia ..............
Virginia .......................
Maryland .......................
5th District .................
United States .............

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

Production; Percentage
March 1936
change
(Tons)

12,950,000
1,494,000
194,000
14,638,000
51,315,000

8,807,000
767,000
125,000
9,699,000
31,527,000

+
+
+
+
+

47.0
94.8
55.2
50.9
62.8

Cotton Textiles

The amount of cotton used in both the United States
and the Fifth Reserve district declined in April from
the record March figures, consumption on a daily basis
falling 4.2 per cent in the Nation and 3.7 in the dis­
trict, but consumption figures continued much higher
than those a year earlier. Consumption of cotton in
the Fifth district in April 1937, March 1937 and April
1936 was as follows, in bales:
No. Carolina

Months

So. Carolina

Virginia

District

April
March
April

1937
1937
1936

183,425
198,392
149,089

133,239
143,873
113,758

15,589
15,852
14,047

332,253
358,117
276,894

4 Months,
4 Months,

1937
1936

728,229
580,2,96

530,283
438,081

58,473
55,070

1,316,985
1,073,447

The Bureau of the Census issued a report on April
20 on activity in the cotton spinning industry for

March. On March 31 there were 27,024,970 spindles
in place in the United States, of which 24,638,578, or
91.2 per cent, were active a total of 9,698,368,366 spin­
dle hours during the month, an average of 359 hours
per spindle in place. In the Fifth Reserve district
there were 12,356,468 spindles in place on March 31,
of which 11,805,124, or 95.5 per cent, operated a total
of 4,805,446,096 spindle hours in March, an average
of 389 hours per spindle in place. South Carolina
with an average of 423 hours per spindle in place led
all states, while North Carolina with 363 hours tied
for sixth place with Mississippi, and Virginia with 335
hours ranked ninth.
Statistics on Cotton

Spot cotton prices declined through April and the
first two weeks in May, due to favorable weather for
development of the new crop throughout most of the
belt and heavy selling pressure from both domestic
and foreign sources in early May. Cotton prices were
also affected by sharp declines in the general level of
prices of other commodities and securities. The fol­
lowing figures show recent trends in the spot market,




and comparative per pound prices in eight earlier
years on the corresponding Fridays nearest the 1937
dates:
Middling Grade, % inch Upland Cotton, Per Pound
Years
1937
1936
1935
1934
1933
1932
1931
1930
1929

Apr. 16
13.48
11.62
11.96
11.87
6.70
5.96
9.48
15.16
18.9(7

Apr. 23

Apr. 30

May 7

May 14

13.49
11.60
12.30
11.64
7.29
5.78
9.47
15.09
18.17

13.30
11.40
12.37
11.06
7.27
5.58
8.89
15.32
18.25

13.36
11.55
12.44
11.13
8.36
5.58
9.31
15.24
18.02

12.96
11.65
12.55
11.26
8.79
5.34
8.80
15.17
18.32

Cotton consumption figures released by the Census
Bureau showed a decline in April from March of about
4 per cent on a daily basis, but exceeded April 1936
figures by 24.7 per cent. Bales of cotton consumed in
the United States during the nine elapsed months of
the present cotton year, beginning August 1, 1936,
totaled 29.1 per cent more than the cotton used during
the corresponding nine months ended April 30, 1936.
Consuming establishments on April 30 this year held
67.1 per cent more cotton than a year earlier, but the
backlog of cotton in public storage and compresses de­
clined 29.6 per cent during the year.
Cotton Consumed and On Hand
(Bales)
April
1937
Fifth district states:
Cotton consumed ...............
Cotton growing states:
Cotton consumed ................
Cotton on hand Apr. 30 in
Consuming establishments
Storage & compresses. . . .
United States:
Cotton consumed ................
Cotton on hand Apr. 30 in
Consuming establishments
Storage & compresses___
Exports of cotton ..................

April
1936

332,253

276,894

2,803,042

2,233,851

595,608

486,697

5,010,763

3,912,201

1,630,605
4,104,772

972,464
5,878,897

Aug. 1 to April 30
This yr. Last yr.

718,947

576,762

6,010,883

4,667,761

1,987,280
4,213,860
373,158

1,189,605
5,989,676
352,710

4,762,357

5,167,070

Cotton seed received at United States mills between
August 1, 1936, and April 30, 1937, totaled 4,415,228
tons, compared with 3,678,240 tons received in the nine
months ended April 30, 1936. Of the receipts men­
tioned, North Carolina mills took 231,090 tons this year
and 222,299 tons last year, and South Carolina mills
received 218,298 tons and 204,303 tons in the two pe­
riods, respectively. The mills crushed 4,279,306 tons
of seed in the period ended April 30 this year, and had
157,613 tons on hand at the end of the period, com­
pared with 3,669,931 tons crushed in the nine months
ended April 30, 1936, and 97,884 tons on hand on that
date.
Tobacco Manufacturing

Tobacco manufacturing slowed somewhat in April
from other recent months, and showed smaller per­
centage increases over the rates of production in April
last year. Output of tobacco products in April 1937
and April 1936 in the United States, according to the
report of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, was as
follows:

5

MONTHLY REVIEW
April 1937
Smoking & Chewing
Tobacco, Pounds ..........
Cigarettes, Number ........
Cigars, Number ..............
Snuff, Pounds .................

April 1936

26,785,686
12,209,822,610
453,007,930
3,242,079

25,882,084
11,868,891,200
411,605,582
3,371,486

% Change
+ 3.5
+ 2.9
+10.1
— 3.8

No production figures were released on a State basis,
but at the rate of production attained by Fifth district
States in 1936 the district manufactured 84 per cent of
all cigarettes, 45 per cent of the smoking and chewing
tobacco and snuff, and 1 1 per cent of the cigars. Taxes
paid to the Federal Treasury in April 1937 on tobacco
manufacture totaled $43,148,122, compared with $41,896,642 paid in April 1936, an increase last month of
3.0 per cent.
Construction
__________ Building Peirmits Issued in April 1937 and 1936
i
CITIES

Permits Issued
1937
1936

Total Valuation
1937
1936

corresponding 1936 figures, although the increase last
month was less than in other recent months. Permits
for all types of construction numbered 3,381 in April
this year, compared with 2,975 permits issued in March
this year and 3,236 permits issued in April 1936. Esti­
mated valuation figures for permits issued last month
totaled $8,677,686, a decrease of 1 1 per cent under
$9,692,773 for March 1937 but 12 per cent above
$7,781,193 for April 1936. Twenty-five of the thirtyone cities reported higher valuation figures for April
this year than last.
Contract award figures, collected by the F. W. Dodge
Corporation, include rural as well as urban projects,
and are a better measure of the volume of construction
work than building permit figures. Contract award
figures for March 1937 and 1936 are now available by
States, and are as follows for the Fifth Reserve dis­
trict :
Construction Contracts Awarded

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

1,124
42
30
28
25
36
51
127
2
34
157
53
29
154
62
47
81
109
47
50
61
31
. 14
10
106
54
69
41
25
27
655

911
11
22
27
23
38
50
137
2
30
166
54
10
105
97
26
54
138
56
160
51
23
10
9
102
48
62
54
15
33
712

$2,129,160
44,126
68,752
33,735
49,250
47,759
84,169
205,985
29,100
72,650
454,056
178,023
100,350
312,498
63,635
73,620
83,308
409,300
116,576
69,706
160,399
111,725
13,375
37,300
275,845
110,005
176,609
73,023
40,677
73,820
2,979,150

$2,019,420
18,650
38,574
59,505
13,225
162,931
54,579
106,852
4,000
24,940
684,705
36,666
8,250
188,985
51,954
26,950
66,420
232,080
89,175
259,940
34,510
52,257
8,540
26,725
246,699
39,326
114,289
90,852
10,946
21,888
2,987,360

District Totals ............ ..

3,381

3,236

$8,677,686

$7,781,193

.
Maryland
D. of C...........

Building permits issued in thirty-one Fifth district
cities in April declined from those issued in March,
but the valuation of work provided for continued above

West Va.......... .
No. Carolina...
So. Carolina .,.




STATES

March 1937

Maryland .....................
D. of Col.......................
Virginia .......................
West Va........................
No. Carolina .............
So. Carolina ................
District ..............

March 1936

$ 3,771,800
3,887,100
5,488,300
1,279,000
7,907,800
2,170,500
$24,504,500

$ 3,185,300
1,664,900
3,564,100
1,719,800
5,546,900
1,573,400
$17,254,400

% Change
+ 18.4
+133.5
+ 54.0
— 25.6
+ 42.6
+ 37.9
+ 42.0

Automobile New Car Registrations

Registrations of new passenger automobiles reflect
consumer buying power. According to figures col­
lected by R. L. Polk & Company of Detroit, registra­
tion figures in Fifth Reserve district states in April
1937 and April 1936 and in the first four months of
each year were as follows:
Registrations of New Passenger Cars
April
1937

April
1936

Change

4,671
3,061
6,001
4,590
5,995
2,669

5,315
3,700
5,605
4,090
4,846
2,088

— 12.1
— 17.3
+ 7.1
+ 12.2
+ 23.7
+ 27.8

15,630
10,236
17,642
11,653
18,692
9,882

12,734
10,700
15,032
10,068
13,424
7,003

+ 22.7
— 4.3
+ 17.4
+ 15.7
+ 39.2
+ 41.1

. 26,987

25,644

+

83,735

68,961

+21.4

STATES

District

%

5.2

4 Months 4 Months
%
1937
Change
1936

6

MONTHLY REVIEW

Retail Trade, 28 Department Stores
Baltimore
Washington
Other Cities
District
April 1937 sales, compared with sales in April 1936:
— 1.1
— 6.5
— .6
— 3.6
Jan.-April 1937 sales, compared with sales in Jan.-April 1936:
-j- 9.3
+ 4.4
+ 9.9
-| 7.1
Apr. 30, 1937, stocks, compared with stocks on Apr. 30, 1936:
+ 9.1
+14.5
+11.7
+11.9
Apr. 30, 1937, stocks, compared] with stocks on Mar. 31, 1937:
+ 1.5
+ 1.3
+ 4.2
+ 1.8
Number of times stocks were turned in April 1937:
.306
.312
.278
.304
Number of times stocks were turned since January 1, 1937:
1.196
1.265
1.125
1.214
Percentage of Apr. 1, 1937, receivables collected in April:
30.6
27.0
32.1
29.0

In addition to the 28 stores which reported on sales,
stocks, receivables and collections, sales figures alone
were received from 29 other stores representing for
the most part smaller cities and towns. The sales in
these 29 stores have been combined with sales in the
28 stores in the above table, and percentage changes
calculated on a State basis, as follows:

Va.
W. Va.
N. C,
S. C.
District
12*
10*
7*
13*
57*
April 1937 sales, compared with sales in April 1936:
+ .1
+ 2.0
— .9
<
+ 3.8
— 2.9t
Jan.-April 1937 sales, compared with sales in Jan.-April 1936:
+10.3
+18.9
+12.5
+16.3
+ 8.2f
* Number of reporting stores,
t Includes stores in Baltimore and Washington.

Wholesale Trade, 56 Firms
21
7
6
12
10
Groceries Dry Goods
Shoes
Hardware
Drugs
April 1937 sales, comparedl with sales in April 1936:
+20.5
+ 7.8
+21.9
+29.5
+15.6
April 1937 sales, compared with sales in March 1937:
+ 3.3
— 6.4
—25.5
+ 1.9
— 3.2
Jan.-April 1937 sales, compared with sales in Jan.-April 1936:
+15.5
+ 9.5
+21.7
+26.7
+11.9
April 30, 1937, stocks, compared with stocks on Apr. 30, 1936:
........
+20.2(8*) +44.1(3*) +40.9(4*) + 6.4(7*)
April 30, 1937, stocks, compared with stocks on Mar. 31, 1937:
+ 3.4(8*) — 3.8(3*) — 5.0(4*)
2.4(7*)
........
Percentage of collections in April to receivables April 1:
119.0(12*)
43.4(4*)
62.1(5*)
52.5(11*)
69.9(6*)
* Number of reporting firms.

(Compiled May 21, 1937)

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

Industrial activity in April and the first half of May
was maintained at the relatively high level of recent
months. The general level of wholesale commodity
prices declined somewhat, reflecting considerable re­
ductions in prices of many raw materials and semi-fin­
ished products.
Production, Employment, and Trade

The Board’s seasonally adjusted index of industrial
production in April continued at 118 percent of the
1923-1925 average. Manufacturing production rose
further, reflecting increased output of durable goods.

Activity at steel mills was at a rate slightly higher than
in March and about equal to that in the peak month of
1929. Automobile production continued to expand.
In the first three weeks of May output in these indus­
tries was maintained at the levels reached at the close
of April. Increases in output in April were also re­
ported for lumber and plate glass. At textile mills
where output has been at a high level in recent months
there was a slight reduction in activity.
At bituminous coal mines output declined sharply
following an increase in March, when consumers ac­
cumulated stocks of coal in anticipation of a strike.
Crude petroleum output, which had risen sharply from

IN D U STR IA L PRODUCTION

FACTORY EM PLOYM ENT AND PAYRO LLS
PER CENT

P ER C EN T

120

----- 120

v
1

110

9

100

S
^s ' i r

90

Em ym
pl<D ent
80

\

70

R

A

1929

1930

1931

1932

1933

1934

1935

1936

193?

Index of physical volume of production, adjusted for seasonal varia­
tion, 1923-1925 average=100. By months, January 1929 through April
1937.




80

J

70

/ 'v
1

PayT0lls_^
\

60

A 1
fi
ii

50
40

A

a

100
90

r f

\
\

60

1

110

50

v'

40

30

30
1929

1930

1931

1932

1933

1934

1935

1936

1937

Indexes of number employed and payrolls, without adjustment for
seasonal variation, 1923-1925 average—100. By months, January 1929
to April 1937. Indexes compiled by the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

7

MONTHLY REVIEW

November to March, showed further growth in April.
Production of most metals also increased.
Value of construction contracts awarded, as reported
by the F. W. Dodge Corporation, increased more than
seasonally from March to April and continued higher
than a year ago, reflecting, as in earlier months of the
year, a larger volume of residential building and of
other privately-financed work. Contracts awarded for
publicly-financed construction have been considerably
smaller in the first four months of this year than in the
corresponding period of 1936.
Employment rose further between the middle of
March and the middle of April. There was a consid­
erable growth in the number of persons employed in
manufacturing and on the railroads, little change in
those employed in the public utility industries and in
trade, and a decline at bituminous coal mines. At fac­
tories the principal increases in employment were re­
ported by the steel, machinery, and automobile indus­
tries, while the number employed in the clothing indus­
try declined. Working forces at textile mills were
maintained, although a decrease is usual at this season.
Factory payrolls increased more than employment, re­
flecting chiefly further increases in wage rates.
In April sales at department stores showed little
change and mail order sales were also maintained at
the March level, while sales at variety stores declined.

showed further small advances. Since the middle of
May prices of hogs and pork have advanced sharply
and grain prices have also risen.
Bank Credit

Following upon the final increase in reserve require­
ments, which became effective on May 1, excess reserves
of member banks declined from $1,600,000,000 to about
$900,000,000, and in the first three weeks of May fluc­
tuated around the new level. Adjustments by banks to
the new requirements were reflected in a decrease in
interbank balances and in a small increase in borrowings.
The Federal Reserve System in April purchased $96,
000,000 of United States Government securities, for the
purpose of easing the adjustment to the new require­
ments and preserving orderly conditions in the money
market.
Total loans and investments of reporting member
banks showed a small decline from the middle of April
through May 19. Holdings of United States Govern­
ment obligations and other securities showed some de­
cline, which was offset in part by increases in loans.
While domestic interbank and United States Gov­
ernment deposits declined further, balances of foreign
banks and other demand and time deposits at reporting
member banks increased.
Money Rates

Commodity Prices

The general level of wholesale commodity prices, as
measured by the index of the Bureau of Labor Sta­
tistics, declined from 88.3 per cent of the 1926 average
at the beginning of April to 86.9 in the middle of May.
Prices of nonferrous metals, steel scraps, cotton, and
rubber declined considerably and there were also de­
creases in the prices of grains, cotton goods, silks,
hides, and chemicals, while prices of shoes and clothing

E X C E S S R E SE R V E S OF M EMBER BANKS

M EM B E R B A N K CREDIT

BILLIONS OF D O L L A R S

BILLIONS OF D O L L A R S

17

24

|

16

Demand DepositsAdjuste d

15

Total Loan $t
and Investme

jr

1

12
11
6

—

/S/w

\

Balances of
Prinks in 11 $ A

BILLIONS O F D O L L A R S

4

22
21
20
11

'

U S . Gov't
Obligation

BILLIONS O F D O L L A R S

4

23

14
13

The open-market rate on 90-day bankers’ acceptances,
which between January and the latter part of March
had advanced from 3/16 to 9/16 percent, was reduced
to ^ percent on May 7, and the rate on nine-months
Treasury bills declined to .62 percent on May 24 com­
pared with a high point of .74 percent on May 3.
Other short-term rates have shown little change in re­
cent weeks. Yields on long-term Treasury and other
high-grade bonds have declined somewhat.

to

>

9

5
4

r

Time Deposits

Tottil Loan?

3

2
_ ^
1 _I
0

Other Securities

.

U.S.Govt Deposits
r—

l

r--------- ------- ,
1932

Wednesday figures of reporting member banks in 101 leading citiefs.
September 5, 1934, to May 19, 1937.




1933

1934

1935

1936

1 93 7

Wednesday figures of estimated excess reserves for all member banks
and for New York City, January 6, 1932, to May 19, 1937.

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