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Jack Ranger

Tapping the Wall Street Wire

(14 October 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 41, 14 October 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

First, for our account of the extent to which the Big Business controlled OPA picked our pockets during the week, from September 26 to September 30:

In addition, OPA removed from price control the following commodities: Honey; specified frozen fruits; aluminum furniture; chewing gum; prepared flour mixes; some insecticides.


The nation’s railroads, which enjoyed their most profitable years in history during the war, continue to holler for higher rates and state they are losing money. Recently, the ICC authorized the Seaboard Air Line and the Atlantic Coast Line railroads to operate lines in western Florida to serve a new plant being constructed by the Victor Chemical Workers, designed to manufacture yellow phosphorus from ore. The two railroads estimate they will divide a yearly profit of $133,454 on gross revenues of $361,882 for the one operation ... Class I railroads had an estimated net income after interest and rentals of $35,000,000 in July, the carriers have reported to the Association of American Railroads.


Farm Notes

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is already readying plans for a scarcity program to keep farm prices up. The Department plans to extend a system of crop "guides” over major farm commodities, telling the farmer in advance how much of each important crop is needed, and how much of that total his own soil shall produce. There is a system of indirect penalties for those not cooperating.

The Department, as a start, is “planning” for 16 per cent fewer potatoes next year ... Farm machinery production in August totaled $66.7 million, a 13 per cent gain over July, and the highest monthly output in history. The new peak was achieved despite work stoppages at Allis-Chalmers and Case plants ... International Harvester will have in production next summer a new cotton picker which will do the work of 30 to 60 cotton pickers ... The American Military Government in Japan has announced a two-year plan to achieve an agrarian reform calculated to abolish absentee landlordism – requisition 70 per cent of Japan’s rented farmland, reimburse the landlords in government bonds, and re-sell the land on 30-year terms, to Japanese peasants. But the American bourgeoisie is incapable of carrying through even such a mild bourgeois reform as is contemplated by the Army in Japan. Already, doubt is being expressed in the plan’s efficacy, for enforcement has been placed in the hands of the Japanese bureaucrats, who are thereby being asked to oust their own class from political power, to force their own fathers, brothers, uncles and cousins to sell their land. It won’t work the Army way.


Following the wave of bank failures during the big depression of the 1930’s, the government established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, to insure bank deposits against bank failures. The year 1945 was the first calendar year in three-fourths of a century without a bank failure.

Capital and surplus of the FDIC now stands at $929 millions.

What is not widely known is that that figure represents only 59/100 of one per cent of the total insured bank deposits of $158 billions.

There are no less than 17 banks in the nation, each with deposits in excess of the capital and surplus of FDIC. That is, failure of just one of these banks might practically wipe out the FDIC.

Banks today don’t retain the ratio of capital on hand to meet deposits that they used to. The ratio of total capital accounts to total assets has gradually declined from 35 per cent in 1875 to 5.7 per cent at the end of 1945. In the words of the FDIC: “The degree of protection afforded depositors by the capital of banks is now materially less than in former years.”

The FDIC was established largely for psychological reasons – to give the masses a feeling that their money in the bank was secure.


A huge world oil oversupply looms in the next few years, according to Minor S. Jameson, Jr., economist of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. The reason? Because the potential production of foreign fields, particularly in the Middle East, which can be developed “within a reasonably short time, is so much larger than any foreseeable world demands.” Jameson says the world oil market could easily be flooded with an additional 6,800,000 barrels per day, of which about 5,500,000 barrels daily would come from the Middle East. He sees a growing pressure to invade the markets now supplied from U.S. sources, and urges convocation of an oil import policy meeting between government and industry.


Canadian Car & Foundry Co., Ltd., of Montreal, just completed the final section of an order for 4,000 steel gondola cars for South African railways and harbors. The same company also has an order for gondolas for the Portuguese East African roads. In each case, the Canadian company obtained contracts for equipment formerly made by British and European producers ... The Aetna Life Insurance Co. is in the process of purchasing five California department stores and a warehouse, at a cost of $10,000,000. The Los Angeles and Oakland stores of I. Mangin & Co., and the Los Angeles warehouse of Bullock’s Inc., already have so changed hands. Next spring Aetna will buy the Bullock stores in Pasadena and Palm Springs. Last January, Aetna paid $6,750,000 for the Bamberger stores in Newark, N.J. ... Aetna, incidentally, is one of the “poorer” life insurance firms. In 1935 it ranked twelfth down the list of insurance companies, one-eighth the size of Metropolitan.

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