News from The Wall Street Journal on March 11, 1931:

  • Radio Corp. of America reports sharply lower 1930 income due to decline in consumer buying power; however, co. in stronger financial position and launching intense development program. Radio manufacturing has been unified and balance sheet is in better shape. Television has been repeatedly demonstrated in the lab, but further development is needed before production. Ready to begin production of home sound movie theatre systems as soon as system of film distribution to homes is available; eventual market may be 20,000 “little theatres” in homes. Developed home recording phonograph. Successful experiments on transmission of facsimiles to ships at sea. Nat’l Broadcasting Co. subsidiary now profitable, as is RCA Photophone sound film system. Antitrust suits ongoing.
  • Ford and Chevrolet continue seesaw battle for supremacy. Ford regained lead in Sept. 1928, when Model A overtook Chevrolet 4-cylinder cars; Chevrolet retook lead in Dec. 1930; preliminary Feb. figures indicate Chevrolet will maintain lead but struggle looks likely to tighten in the near future. J. Mooney, GM VP, reports substantial improvement every month since Dec. in GM European sales.
  • Incoming calls to the new Western Union skyscraper are handled by a “robot” that automatically detects a call on any one of 120 trunk lines and transfers it to an operator in the order received.
  • Goodyear Zeppelin to operate daily sightseeing dirigible from NY City to surrounding towns.
  • Average wage of women working in five and 10 stores is $12/week; average wage in 32 department stores is $26.17/week for men and $16.13 for women.
  • US Steel unfilled orders ending Feb. were 3.965M tons vs. 4.132M Jan., 3.944M Dec., and 4.480M a year ago; decline was greater than expected. Steel authorities hope for increased production in March, but say this may be first-half peak unless demand improves. Smaller producers reportedly cutting prices again.
  • Rail freight loadings for week ended Feb. 28 were 682,000 down 31,958 from prev. week, down 24.1% from 1930 week, and down 30.2% from 1929; comparison misleading due to Washington’s Birthday. Total class 1 rail operating income in Jan. was about $35M, lowest month since 1922; showing was disappointing since gross only declined 3.4% from Dec. while net declined 35.4%.
  • Banking reports show total loans and investments of Fed. Reserve member banks now $22.621B, only $155M below Jan. 7, vs. $531M decline last year in the same period; Fed. Reserve easy credit policy continues. Banks appear concerned with strengthening their positions; in period since Jan. 7, security loans are down $380M, and “all other” loans down $243M, while on the other hand govt. bonds are up $355M and other bonds up $113M. Rise of $17M last week in “all other” loans was first sign so far of seasonal increase in business credit.

And in other news,

  • German banking circles optimistic on improved prospect of long-term loans. Political situation has also improved; authorities say Hitler hasn’t availed himself of political opportunity; while Nazi element continues to be a menace, influence of the party is waning. Stocks and currency have strengthened.

Happy 80th birthday to the man who now owns said esteemed paper of record, along with a few other interests.

(With thanks to the blog News from 1930.)

Peter Fray

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