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Jack Ranger

Tapping the Wall Street Wire

(7 April 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 14, 7 April 1947, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Today a loaf of bread generally costs you 15 cents. A year ago it cost 12 cents, and in 1939 it cost about nine cents. Retail bread prices have recently been boosted throughout the country by one cent a loaf, and the big bakers are threatening further price gouges. Do the bakers have to raise bread prices? Let’s look at the earnings of the “big four.”

Continental Baking Co., which recently boosted bread one-half cent a loaf at wholesale and threatened another increase, made profits of $7,510,206 in 1946, compared with profits of $2,493,031. Dividends rose from 65 cents a share in 1945 to $5.68 in 1946. General Baking Co. earned profits of $3,964,625 in 1946, as against $1,879,759 in 1945. Ward Baking Co. more than tripled its profits, from $1,122,650 in 1945 to $3,642,738 in 1946. Profits of Purity Bakeries rose from $2,030,847 in 1945 to $3,424,308 in 1946.

War and Peace

During the war the federal government shoveled out $100’billion dollars a year for the purpose of achieving maximum destruction in Europe and Asia. Remember? The other day Senator Taft had some ideas on the amount that the federal government should spend yearly to improve U.S. living conditions. Clearing his throat, the senator said he thought $1 billion would be about right – $150 million for housing, $250 million for education, and $225 million for health assistance. This only totals $625 million. “It would not be too much to raise this even to $1 billion a year,” Taft told the Senate Banking Committee. Why, $100 billion annually for housing alone would not be enough to house adequately our people. And Taft, who, together with all the senators, raised his hands for hundreds of billions for war, grudgingly concedes a penny on the dollar to improve U.S. living conditions.


Although there are six million farms in the United States, about 2½ million of them furnish almost all of the commercial farm production for the entire country. And of this number, only a small percentage of the huge “factory farms” account for the greater portion of production ... Though the coal crisis in Great Britain is one of the contributing factors to the crack-up of the empire, that nation has been exporting millions of dollars worth of mining equipment, locomotives, and railroad cars in a desperate effort to obtain credits to bolster up still weaker segments of the economy ... Schenley Distillers, besides buying up wineries in California and Europe and breweries in Milwaukee, has built up a large animal feed business, entered the imported fancy foods field, and become a large -producer of penicillin. Now Schenleys has a new spit drink formula and plans to enter the field in a big way as soon- as sugar rationing ends. In addition, the company is considering entering the drug field. The war was very good to all the distilleries. Net sales of Schenleys, for instance, rose from $74 million in 1939 to $644 million in 1946. Seagrams National Distillers, and Hiram Walker did just as well ... A new synthetic yarn designed to compete with nylon is being produced by Union Carbide & Carbon Co. Called vinyon N, it is said to be 75 per cent as strong as nylon, can be stretched 40 per cent, takes dyes with ease, and unlike nylon is warm to the touch.

Taxes and the Rich

One of the additional ways in which big corporations can avoid paying taxes was recently revealed by the Wall Street Journal. By indirect purchase of shares in investment companies specializing in bonds, they can pare as much as 85 per cent on their taxes. For instance, a corporation receiving its interest indirectly in dividends from such a trust pays a tax on only 15 per cent of the income. But had the same bonds been owned directly, the corporation would be fully taxable. On $10,000 dividend income, the corporation pays only $570; had it owned the bonds outright, it would have paid $3,800.

Don’t think that Big Business isn’t taking advantage of this loop hole, either. One such “open-end” investment bond trust has grown frqm less than $1 million in 1939 to more than $25 million today. The assets of all such investment companies have more than tripled since 1937 and today stand at more than $1.3 billion. The number of shareholders has risen from 250,000 in 1937 to about 550,000 today ...

The packers pulled a fast one during the last days of OPA price controls. Under price control, subsidies averaging $2 a 100 pounds were paid to slaughterers on live hogs, cattle and sheep, to “enable” them to sell at ceiling prices. Last Fall the packers accepted the subsidies, but held the meat in inventory until price controls were ended October 15. Then they sold the meat way above OPA ceilings, as we all remember. Altogether, they netted between $5 and $10 million on subsidies alone.

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