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Jack Ranger

Tapping the Wall Street Wire

(25 November 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 47, 25 November 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

One of the best chapters in Lewis Corey’s book of a decade ago, The Decline of American Capitalism, was that early one wherein he listed scores of optimistic quotations from leading American capitalists and politicians, uttered just before the 1929 crash, showing the complete unawareness and ignorance of the social and economic forces which these men purported to control or at least to understand.

Let’s start keeping tabs on some of our current heavy thinkers.

Here’s a prediction by John W. Snyder, Secretary of the Treasury: “The nation is on the road to a continuing high level of prosperity.”

And here is one from Civilian Production Administrator John Small: “A recession will not come next year if business generally acts to maintain a high level of production.”

U.S. Controls the Oceans

The United States, which in 1939 had only 14 per cent of the deadweight tonnage of the world’s merchant fleet, today owns more than 50 per cent, a recent survey compiled by the Maritime Commission shows. The U.S. fleet increased from 1,379 ships in 1939 to 4,961 vessels in 1946. The British Empire fleet decreased from 30 per cent of the world’s deadweight tonnage in 1939 to 24 per cent today. All the other nations showed reductions in merchant fleets except Russia, which had a one per cent gain. Percentage declines in tonnages were: Norway, from 9 per cent to 4; Netherlands, from 4 per cent to 2; France, 4 to 2; Japan, 9 to 1; Germany, 6 to 1; and Italy, 5 to 1. Actually, U.S. domination of the world merchant fleets is even more pronounced than these figures indicate. Approximately 8 per cent, or 526, of the vessels in foreign fleets are owned by the U.S., although included in the statistics of the fleets of other countries.

Who Delays Housing?

Untold quantities of such scarce housing materials as white lead paint, toilets, soil pipe, plumbing fixtures, nails, veneer and plywood lie hidden away in War Assets Administration warehouses in six central states, according to a navy veteran who just spent three weeks investigating the situation in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. Enough building material is stored in government warehouses to complete all unfinished houses in the area and to build thousands more, said Arthur Marcus, the investigator, and member of the national committee on veteran housing of the American Legion.

In one warehouse was 11,361 feet of conduit pipe, enough for 100 homes; another had 92 toilets; a third depot contained 2,000 toilets, 500,000 square feet of plywood and veneer, and enough nails to build 12,000 houses.

Marcus, obviously a Republican, charged that the Truman administration was holding the materials off the market in an attempt “to delude veterans into the belief that their only salvation is government housing.” Such a charge is fake. One of the many rotten policies that helped defeat the Democrats was their miserable failure to solve the housing shortage, though it was in their interest to make some kind of a showing.

A further investigation would show that the big insurance companies and banks, who own such a large proportion of the nation’s housing, together with the building materials trust, are responsible for holding such materials off the market, in order to smash rent ceilings and increase the value of their present holdings. This section of big business DOESN’T WANT THE HOUSING SHORTAGE ALLEVIATED, and both boss parties connive with it ... The stall in new housing has been successful, and it is now certain that rent ceilings will be further lifted.

What a joke Housing Expediter Wilson Wyatt’s program has been. Despite repeated warning from veterans, he insisted upon concentrating on the building of houses at a cost of about $10,000 and up, rather than construct low-cost housing projects. Wyatt’s program wasn’t designed to help the veterans at all, for how many of them can spend $10,000 to house their families? Rather the program was aimed to help the upper middle class.


New U.S.-China Treaty

U.S. intervention in China is now beginning to pay off – for the wealthy. On November 1, the United States signed an extensive 5-year treaty with the Chinese government, broadening the rights and privileges which American corporations can exercise in China. The State Department “emphatically denied” that conclusion of the pact at this time is a move to strengthen Chiang Kai-shek’s central government. In the language of diplomacy, “to emphatically deny” means “to affirm.” ... By terms of the treaty, which must be ratified by the U.S. Senate and the Chinese Yuan, American corporations are permitted to “reside, travel and carry on trade” in all parts of the country – including the so-called Chinese Communist territory which Chiang does not control. They can carry on “commercial manufacturing, processing, scientific, educational, religious and philanthropic activities,” can “acquire, hold, erect, or lease and occupy buildings and acquire land.” Merchant ships of one country can travel in the territorial waters and put in at the ports of the other ...

This treaty obviously gives Washington a big stake in keeping Chiang or some puppet dictator like him, in power, for the treaty does not necessarily expire after five years, “or ever,” says the N.Y. Journal of Commerce. Once past the five-year date, the pact will be ended only one year after one of the countries announces its intention to terminate it. Obviously, it is to the interest of American big business to see that no Chinese government ever takes power which might abrogate such a juicy treaty ... Coincident with signing of the treaty, there was announced in New York the formation of the first American trade association devoted solely to the promotion of U.S. commerce in China, the China-American Council of Commerce and Industry, designed to produce “a unified and authoritative voice pressing the viewpoints and interests of American business.”


Washington is already objecting to Britain over sections of the British-Argentine economic agreement, on grounds it violates promises Britain made the U.S. in obtaining a $3,750,000,000 American loan. One provision of the British-Argentine pact prevents Argentina from spending blocked sterling where she desires under certain circumstances. The U.S. State Department has also told Britain it dislikes the long-term exclusive basis of the four-year meat agreement with Argentina. Britain has similar exclusive meat pacts with Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

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