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Jack Ranger

Tapping the Wall Street Wire

(28 October 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 43, 28 October 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

No Soap

The strike of the meatpacking trust not only brings us “no steak” but “no soap.” The critical shortage of soap is worsening rapidly. The average bar of soap is 50-70 per cent tallow. The tallow comes from steers. When steers are held off the market by the banker-controlled cattle associations, the supply of soap begins to dry up. The average bar of soap also has 20–30 percent coconut oil, crushed from the imported coconut meat (copra). The coconut oil industry is now holding its product for higher price ceilings, offering almost no oil for shipment in October and November.

Things are getting to the point where it is difficult or impossible to send your clothes to the laundry either. Recently for the first time in its history the biggest laundry in Philadelphia was told by its soap supplier that soap deliveries were being slashed in half. A Pittsburgh laundry says it has been given a soap quota of about 25 per cent of normal. Proctor & Gamble, big soapmaker, says its supply of soap fat on hand totals only 50 per cent of its supply in 1940–41.

My advice to Labor Action readers is to rush to the stores and buy up all the soap you can, before them damned hoarders get it.

Foreign Notes

The U.S. State Department is urging American businessmen to protest immediately to the Polish government against nationalization of more than 900 firms in Poland, “some of which involve American interests.” Here is what the Polish government plans: On September 30, it published a list of 513 firms to be nationalized without compensation to the owners, on grounds the plants were owned by the German government or German citizens. In addition, the Poles published a list of 404 firms for which it proposed to compensate the owners. We all accept it as a natural thing that our State Department would seek to organize a protest against any action of a foreign government that might threaten the interests of wealthy Americans.

But can you imagine the U.S. Labor Department ever urging American labor to protest against a foreign government that was exploiting or murdering workers ... Brazil has taken over the 60-mile Sao Paulo Railway, held by British interests since 1856. The road is the nation’s most important commercial line, running from the coffee port of Santos inland to the industrial city of Sao Paulo. The British are quite happy about the deal. Brazil pays them about $26 million for the road, in federal bonds, at seven per cent annual interest ... Despite U.S. protests, Sweden has signed an agreement with Russia, extending to that country a credit of $278 millions for Russian purchases in Sweden during the next five years.

Under the pact, the two countries will barter annually $55 millions worth of goods. Russia expects to buy electrical machinery, locomotives, and other heavy equipment ... Stimulated by demands of the recent war, Mexican mining and manufacturing expanded greatly, according to a report just released by the U.S. Tariff Commission. Among the new enterprises in Mexico are plants for the manufacture of iron and steel, tin plate, rayon fibre, acetic acid, copper sulfate, cellulose and cement.


To give you an idea of how the building supply industry is prospering. The Celotex Corporation has just reported to its stockholders on the nine months ended July 31, 1946. Consolidated net earnings, after all charges and taxes, were $2,436,329. This compares with $489,498 in the same period a year ago. Dividends rose from 49 cents a share to $2.62 ... Net income of the privately-owned electric power and light industry for the eight months ended August 31, is $457 millions, or $106 millions more (30 per cent higher) than the same period in 1945 ... Fairbanks, Morse & Co., despite a 5½-month strike at its Beloit, Wis., plant, will show a profit for the year ending December 31, it reports. How? Simple. While the company suffered a net loss of $357,363 for the first six months, it took itself a $1 million tax carry-back to more than wipe out the loss.


Squeeze Play at the Treasury

The American Bankers Association and the big insurance companies, together with Treasury Secretary John Snyder, are cooking up a good one. It probably won’t be served this year, but it’s worth watching. The bankers want the government to discontinue its policy of borrowing money for short terms at low interest rates, and to adopt a policy of long-term borrowing at high interest rates. The reason for their concern is obvious. The treasury is now paying about ⅞ths of one per cent for money for one year. The bankers want a special 25-year 2% per cent bond. A long-term bond would increase the present staggering $5 billion annual interest load on the public debt. A 2½ per cent bond of $3 billion face value, such as the bankers want, would cost $75 million in interest. A short-term $3 billion issue paying ⅞ths of one per cent interest could cost about. $26.24 million. The bankers would get a handout here of $48 million yearly on interest. And that’s just on $3 billion, remember. Treasury bills, notes and certification are now maturing at the rate of $8 billion a month. Further, a change in the Treasury’s borrowing policy would have the effect of raising interest rates throughout the country. In the recent lush years, thousands of corporations have completed their refunding operations at low interest rates.

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