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Jack Ranger

Tapping the Wall Street Wire

(9 December 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 49, 9 December 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Back in January, 1940, the Polish government, then in exile in France and under the domination of Britain, published a notice that owing to the exigencies of war, payment of interest on all Polish loans would be suspended for the duration of the war, but that the government recognized its obligation to foreign bondholders and had firm intentions to resume payments. The other day the current Polish government, owned by the Stalinists, published a little ad in the Wall Street Journal, “reaffirming” that earlier declaration, and proposing that negotiations for the resumption of payment should begin next year ... Governments come arid go, but the American bondholders’ interest payments continue.

Is a Bust Coming?

Banks throughout the country, expecting a bust soon, are tightening up on credit, shortening terms of loans, inching up interest rates, and stamping “rejected” on more and more loan applications. They say they’re concerned chiefly with what they call “over-extension” of inventories – what you and I, dear reader, would describe as “too many companies holding too much goods off the market in the plot to keep goods scarce and prices high.” in short, the banks fear that the pipelines from the manufacturers to the retailers are so full they are bound to burst soon.

The number of unemployed in October, according to the Bureau of the Census, was 1,950,000, a decrease of 5 per cent from September, but 27 per cent above a year ago ... The Department of Agriculture acknowledges that world wool stocks stood at 5 billion pounds on June 30, more than three times the pre-war stock. Of this year’s 5 billion pound carryover, the British government owns 81 per cent, the U.S. government, 19 per cent.


Back to Normal

Millions of bushels of potatoes are going to freeze this winter, though there are millions of underfed Americans and tens of millions of starving persons in Europe and Asia. Blame it on the irrational capitalist system. The Department of Agriculture’s price-support program guarantees the farmer an abnormally high return for his produce and places a premium on over-production. Warehouses in the potato states are bulging and there is no room for the spuds, which are piled in pits, barns or any place else the farmer can pile them. Nearly all the potatoes not in storage will be rotten when the loans come due In April 1947. The government will take the loss. The government price-support program, granted the farmers to whip up their enthusiasm for the recent war, must be carried on for two years After the end of the war, which officially is not yet over. Piles of potatoes as high as houses are reported exposed to the northern winter in many states.


Back Wages Due

There is about $6 billion due United States workers for back wages, as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent portal-to-portal pay decisions. One such suit pending is that of the CIO Steel Workers against U.S. Steel, for $300,000,000 ... But Big Business is quietly preparing to use its government to get out of paying the workers what is due them. The labor legislative committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce held a special session November 21 in Washington, laid plans to rush legislation through the 80th Congress that would overide the court’s ruling and amend the wage and hour statutes to block a pile of lawsuits filed by unions. The $6 billion figure was presented to the Chamber of Commerce on the basis of confidential reports from leading industries, which indicated that many unions have valid cases under the court’s ruling in the Mount Clemens Pottery Case.


Items in Passing

Price Administrator Paul Porter announces he has taken “a strong stand” against any general rent ceiling increase at this time. Now we are doggone sure a rent increase is coming. Everytime he has taken one of his “strong stands,” prices have shot up.

The distillers have grown hog-fat during the war, because they were making high profits two ways, on their liquor business and on producing alcohol for the war program. And what rotten likker they’re making nowadays! Seven years ago, at a hearing before the Temporary National Economic Committee, officials of the Big Four – Schenley, Seagram, National and Hiram Walker – testified that the best whiskey in the world could be made for 29 cents a gallon. Today you are paying $6.75 and more for a fifth of a gallon of bourbon, and about $4 for the blonds. There’s more profit in the blends, and most distillers are now peddling the stuff.

Monopolistic trends have grown tremendously in the war years. Schenley, for instance, went out to California and bought up a good share of the wine industry, Roma, Cresta Blanca, and others; went to Milwaukee and bought a brewery; bought out some of the European liquor factories; is now considering going into the food industry. In the fiscal year ending August 31, Schenley established new sales and net earnings records. Net income after a special contingency reserve of $1 million rose to $49 million, or $13.64 a share, against $6.43 a year ago. The company gathered in two more Kentucky distilleries in the year, too.

Prices Are Still Going Up

On November 20 nylons and rayon hose went up 25–33 per cent; batteries went up 15–20 per cent; copper, up 2 cents a pound; sugar, up 36.5–40 cents a 100 pounds. Other recent price rises: Industrial alcohol, up 1.8 cents a gallon; paper prices, up $20–$25 a ton; cocoa, butter, fowl up; livestock prices only 50 cents below the all-time high; some cotton goods up as much as 50 per cent over old ceiling prices ... But, thank God, the price of Adam hats has come down to $8.50. Now, if all of us spent all our income on hats ...

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