« ForrigeFortsett »
of course, from the electrical industries. Statistics for the monthly production of copper in the United States were published by the Copper Producers' Association from January, 1909, to June, 1914. This period is too short to permit comprehensive comparisons to be made. The statistics for the average price of electrolytic copper, as given by the Engineering and Mining Journal, for 1903-08 are plotted on Chart IV. The general movement of the price of copper was similar to that of the price of pig iron, but the former broke in March, 1907, one month earlier than pig iron.
(15) Print Cloth. For the textile industries and the dry goods trade few indices are now available. Price quotations and weekly statements of the sales of print cloth in Fall River are published in the New York Journal of Commerce and elsewhere. These sales statistics are not strictly accurate and there is no check to show the percentage of error. They should indicate roughly, however, the general condition of the trade in cotton cloth. Under ordinary conditions the sales are in part for future delivery, the deliveries extending over two or three months, and after delivery the cloth must be converted, that is printed. Hence the volume of sales indicates the outlook in the dry goods market.
The price figures represented by the curve on Chart V are the averages of the Monday quotations for 28 inch, 64 x 64 print cloth. The activity of the mills and the strength of the market in 1906-07 are reflected in the rise in price, this rise holding until after the panic actually occurred. The sales had been heavy in 1906 and the first half of 1907, and fell off in July of the latter year only because the mills were getting so far behind on their deliveries. In fact premiums were being offered to the mills on orders for immediate delivery.
This demand for cotton cloth had nearly wiped out the stocks of cloth on hand in the leading primary markets,1 as is indicated by the curve for stocks of print cloth given on Chart V. These statistics are perhaps not as accurate as those for sales, but undoubtedly show the general situation. The market decline to the low point in July, 1907, is especially significant when considered in connection with the price curve.
accumulation of stock after the panic shows that it was then that over-production occurred, and has a strong bearing upon the general theory of crises.
Another index of the condition of the cotton manufacturing industry is the margin between the price of raw cotton and the price of cloth. This is found by deducting from the price of cloth the cost of the quantity of raw cotton required to manufacture that cloth.
1 The primary markets are New York, Boston, Providence, and Fall River. These statistics were compiled from the tables in several editions of A. B. Shepperson's Cotton Facts.
'PRICE-CENTS PER POUND
This margin covers the manufacturing expense and the manufacturer's profits. In the months preceding the panics of 1893 and 1907, there was in each instance a sharp rise in this margin.1 The margin reached its lowest point when the depression was most severe.
(16) Silk. The condition of the silk industry should be shown approximately by the imports and prices of raw silk. All of the raw material used in the industry in this country is imported, and the importations adjust themselves fairly closely to the demand from the manufacturers. In fact this is probably a better index to the industry than any figures for production would be, since the products are highly diversified. During the months preceding the panic of 1907 relatively large imports were received and there was a marked rise in price, the highest point being reached in May, 1907, after which a fall began.2
(17) Tin. As another illustration of the use of statistics of imports and prices for a raw material not produced in the United States, tin may be taken.3 The domestic production of this commodity is negligible. The imports of tin, like those of silk, fluctuate somewhat irregularly, owing probably to the irregularity in the arrival of the ships in which the material is carried. But they were heavy in 1906 and the first part of 1907. The price of tin also showed a striking rise during the boom period preceding the panic of 1907, with a slight break in June and the beginning of a sharp decline in August of that year.1
1 A chart showing this margin for the years 1881-1910 is given in my book, The Cotton Manufacturing Industry of the United States, p. 174.
"The statistics for imports are published in the Monthly Summary of Commerce and Finance, and the price statistics in the New York Journal of Commerce.
• Price statistics from Engineering and Mining Journal.
The statistics from which these conclusions for tin are drawn were collected by several students in my class in Business Statistics in the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. Other students have collected figures on cotton cloth prices and margins and on the prices of hides and leather, which have been of assistance.
(18) Hides and Leather. For the shoe manufacturing industry no statistics of production, sales, or prices are now to be had, and for hides and leather the only figures are for prices.1 The most sensitive price statistics appear to be the quotations for Packers' No. 1 hides and Buenos Aires sole leather. Each of these fluctuates with the conditions in the industry, and in 1905 and 1906 both showed a general upward movement which culminated in January and February, 1907. The drop which occurred in the following months presaged still greater weakness in the future.
One complex phenomenon stands out clearly in a study of the price movements for these various commodities. The breaks in some instances preceded the panic by several months, whereas for other commodities the prices held up till the panic actually occurred. Through a more exhaustive study it may be possible to arrive at definite conclusions with reference to the laws of sequence. In other words, a correlation may be established which will serve as an accurate index to events likely to follow in the future. For this purpose an investigation of the changes in the prices of individual representative commodities will clearly yield better results than a study of a composite index number of prices.
(19) Crops. The prosperity of the country is dependent in no small degree upon the agricultural crops. Abundant crops mean better supplies of food for the population and more raw materials for the manufacturers of flour, cotton cloth, and other products. They also mean more purchases by the farmers of commodities of all sorts and more freight for the railroads. Unless the agricultural sections of the country are prosperous business is inevitably dull.
1 Dun's Review; Shoe and Leather Reporter.
So far as my investigations have gone, it appears that the best index to the farmer's prosperity is the average yield per acre. True, the price which the farmer receives is an important factor, and is not to be neglected. But the higher prices in years of short crops are beneficial to only a portion of the farming community. If some farmers receive relatively large amounts for their crops while others have their incomes seriously curtailed, the gross amount of farmers' purchases is no greater and the distribution is not normal. An even distribution is most beneficial to business in general.
There is the additional difficulty, when attention is given chiefly to the prices for agricultural products, of ascertaining what proportion of the crop is sold at each price. Just how much the farmers receive is more or less in doubt. Further, production is to be watched with caution, because it does not adjust itself to price changes in the same way as the production of pig iron, for instance. The forces of nature influence the agricultural yield. Altho further investigation is needed to prove conclusively whether the yield per acre or the total yield and the price statistics are most significant, crop statistics of some kind clearly ought to be considered in any study of business indices.
(20) Other Items. In addition to the above indices there are several others for which statistics may be had after some delay or for which incomplete statistics are available. Unemployment statistics are a valuable index, as is proved by the report issued from month to month by the British Board of Trade. In this country, unfortunately, no unemployment statistics are currently available. The Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics has published quarterly statements on unemployment since March, 1908. The New York Bureau