|Source: Originally from Air Enthusiast no. 124|
My Dearest Reggie:
Thanks for yours of Friday last. With your purchases, that portion of the family bullion sent to America and so dedicated has now been turned fully invested, per Grandfather's instructions, into what strikes me as a prudent mix of real estate, stocks and private loans. The broad stroke of details on the American side are enclosed, as well as of what little use there is of my investments here in Britain, which continue to go slowly for lack of liquidity, much to the frustration of Imperial Chemical Industries, who now intimate to me that unless what they characterise as private family quarrels are resolved soon, they will miss the chance to do work beneath the water level until next summer, and miss the chance to supply the 1940 Atlantic season.
This does not strike me as much of an argument. The Atlantic will be bridged next year, with or without 100 octane fuel, and, in any case, it can be purchased from Houdry. We might be a little short if there is a war, but a war powers act will supersede the courts, albeit, unless Herr Hitler moves soon, of the chance of late summer construction this year, hence of plant operations next. But since the talk is that the "Big Push" will be deferred to 1942, I see no reason to be alarmed about a shortage of high octane fuel in the summer of 1940.
Meanwhile, in the American case, I should pre-emptively defend our decision to omit key details. In essence, Grandfather has taken my advice on the kind of firms in which we should invest, and made his own stipulation that a good portion of the investment should be close to home. I have explained to him that this means we are now, as a family, committed to a Pacific war. I believe that we should invest in radio and suchlike, and, obviously, there is hardly likely to be an electrical engineering industry springing up on its own amidst the orchards of Santa Clara! We depend upon the United States Navy as a patron, and in the mean time, our investing must be done with a light touch. Two gentlemen building an electronic sound generator in a automobile garage against the hope of moving-picture work are hardly likely to issue a stock prospectus! On the other hand, if their next contracts related to the needs of a fleet of war construction on an equal footing with the last war, one can see at once how the loan on a handshake of a paltry $538 might prove disproportionately profitable, and on the other hand why all concerned might prefer that there be no risk of the sheriffs appearing at the door.
Speaking of matters of war brings me naturally to love, especially in connection with plots set in motion by yourself, Easton has been out of town, making a lightning trip to Berlin. He flew back just two days ago, to mix and mingle with other entrants for the King's Cup, and thus missed an exciting episode, as Fat Chow's surveillance bore fruit here in London, only to be dashed, in events simultaneously exhilarating and distressing. I will fill in the details later, but for now will only add that your meddling seems to have guessed affairs of the heart aright. Your son and Fat Chow had to physically restrain Easton from dashing out to confront trouble. Fat Chow, however, can be an old woman to a surprising degree, urging rash heads to wait on "Miss G.C," of all people.
Aeroplane 2 August 1939
Leader/C. G. Grey filling pages: Slavs are actually Tatars, who are actually Chinese, who are horrid. Therefore, we shouldn’t ally with Russia, but rather that nice Hitler chap. Because you have to ally with one or the other, or you don't get to drop bombs on people.
Flight, 3 August 1939
Leader: An accident to the aircraft carrying the Secretary of State for Air to his latest photographic venue exasperates the paper. Flight also thinks that now that we have balloon barrages everywhere, we should have even more, and that by the new standards of the future when we shall have even more balloons, we have not nearly enough of them now! I remember this elastic logic from the last war, which culminated with us having 55 divisions at the front, and not enough miners to cut the winter coal. It is also no wonder all of the new bomber fashions feature high-altitude performance. Five years ago, one could stooge about over London at 5000ft. Now one will run into a bag of canvas filled with hydrogen, and, more importantly, the heavy cable that depends from it.
Article: the Bristol Bombay is as superb an aircraft as it can be, considering that it is five years late. Once again, a Belfast manufacturer gets special considerations by holding the Union Flag hostage. Not sending money to Belfast is like kissing the Pope!
Foreign Service News:
The Potez 63 was at Brussels, as you may have heard. I include the page of photographs because of an interesting conversation with your son. The Morane-Saulnier is in “mass production.” Here is a picture of the new, vastly improved B-17 with its new turbo-supercharger installation.
Lunch at the club last week with your son took the usual technical turn. Our regular waiter, was hovering on hand with chart paper the moment that our almost-brand-new Commander (Engineering) drew out his mechanical pencil. I chanced to press your son on recent reports of Mr. Norden's bombsight, which apparently provides this new B-17 the werewithal to hit its targets from its chosen altitude of flight.
It was an interesting, if arcane discussion that appeared to digress randomly from the original subject to the same plane's turbosuperchargers, to its presumed "fleet control radio." At last, "Miss G.C." join us from the Land Registry, and with a few essentially feminine questions somehow drew your son into a most-unengineer-like level of abstraction. He cast the discussion, finally, in terms that this old reciprocating mind can understand. In consequence of the Administration's electrification plan, America has gone in for many new thermal power plants. GE has built many of these, and has exploited the new high-temperature, highi-pressure steam conditions to the utmost, clearly (here your son arches an eyebrow) solving recondite metallurgical problems. High energy exhaust calls for "regeneration," as we well know from dealing with triple-expansion. A screw in the exhaust stream is as ancient a solution to this as Watt, and, in a land installation, a straightforward engineering project.
So, when it is announced that the B-17 has a turbocharger, we have some indication that General Electric has done a better job of "selling" itself in Washington than the old aero-motor firms. The irony here is that it is precisely the aero-motor firms that are best positioned to install engines in aeroplanes. As we know from naval work, often the greatest problem in visionary schemes to get the most out of the steam is that re-introducing it into the works in changing conditions will cause wild oscillations in temperature, pressure, and piston speed. (As with the Blackburn "Roc," so with HMS Rattler. There is always someone at the Admiralty with a sense of humour.) Now your son produces those increasingly dog-eared numbers of The Engineer from last year and turns to the pages of the "Principles of Automatic Control" that cover the Sperry autopilot. For, he explains, the Norden bombsight is derived from the old Sperry autopilot, which firm, he points out, is now part of the Fisher interest best known for General Motors. That is rather a lot of generals, I noticed, and Miss "G.C." had the 'grace' to laugh.
Your son, however, bored on, quickly scribbling some trigonometric equations that apparently demonstrate that unless the Norden concern has made a major advance on the original Sperry patents, the claim of accurate bombing is as fallacious. The data is not "regenerated" properly. All of the rattling of old Rattler's engines is the same phenomena as the wild snaking of Invincible's automatic steering. Both are, your son concluded triumphantly, another aspect of the "problem of control." I am afraid that I, personally, rather lost the thread of the discussion when it reached the equations, although "Miss G. C." actually corrected a cosine for a sine at one point. What bemused me is the revelation that this top-secret American bombsight actually pilots the 'plane in order to achieve its miracles! Has anyone told the Guild of Pilots and Air Navigators of their imminent redundancies? Are they throwing their sabots into the gears and plotting Captain Swing riots?
Indicator’s column reports on his flight in a blind flying instruction course for the RAF. With so many pilots being added to the force, the burden of providing enough under-the-hood flying is enormous. Indicator describes how, when he did the new RAF blind, or instrument flying test under a hood in his own Tiger Moth, he ended up "twenty miles or so away from my objective" due to a meterological error (wind speed at 400 feet being 35mph from 90 degrees instead of 17mph from 80), and adds that he also cheated himself by relying on a pocket watch rather than investing in a good stopwatch. It is to be hoped that the Air Ministry will not economise on chronometers. Weather forecasts are another matter, for the Atlantic winter winds come howling in from Greenland, which is more Terra incognito then Darkest Africa --or faraway China. (Which slight irony coming from me leads to the playful suggesting that, somewhere in a London club, there is right now a cousin of a peer sitting with pen in hand and hinting playfully in private correspondence of his familial relationship with a prince of Congo, or chief of the Esquimaux.)
F. de Vere Robertson visits 4 Squadron, another Army-Cooperation shop. He notices the proud history of a squadron that crossed the Channel with the BEF in August, 1914, and gives a complete list of its officers, adding "that it is interesting to note the number of these officers who have achieved high rank in the RAF." Apparently the work of the observers trained at the School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum is highly specialised, and many of them are now seconded army officers. The article is lavishly illustrated with pictures of Westland Lysanders in various poses and postures, but, unfortunately, none of them "buzzing" Stonehenge. 4 Squadron is specially attached to the 4th Division of the BEF, which I am sure will be no consolation to those convinced that the Air Staff is only waiting for its moment to seize everything that flies and fling it into a "knockout blow" of Germany. Or of insufficiently docile Asiatics.
Article: The British-built Taylorcraft is a fine plane.
Aeromarine shows a “46 knot” prototype MTB powered by 4 Lorraine engines. If only the Founder had had four Lorraine engines on his ship, so that he could have gone 46 knots. The Hawaiians would have had to sip his liver from a coco-nut shell!
“Aircraft Engineer” covers “Aerodynamic Numbers of Merit” with numbers graphed out for the visual thinkers amongst us.
Briefly noted: the service notes from The Aeroplane are reproduced, but also noticed is a new naval Torpedo/Search/Reconnaissance type, the Fairey Albacore. The paper apologises for it being a biplane. Blackburn's annual meeting was this month. The director mentions a new flying boat that he hopes will go into series production soon.
The Engineer, 4 August 1939
Leader: The RAF is to have a Technical Branch embracing Armaments, Signals and Engine specialists. Future recruiting will be of B.Sc. and BA.Sc. graduates, and pilot training will not be required.
Article: "Refuelling in Flight." In honour of the opening of Imperial's Atlantic season, the paper notices a subject that everyone else has been talking about for months.
Obituary: Sad news: "Look Away. . ." Dixie has died. Or as the paper puts it, Vice-Admiral (E) Sir Robert Dixon has died on a business trip to South Wales on 28 July. Dixie graduated at the head of his class at Greenwich in 1891, served at sea 1891--6, lectured at Greenwich 1896--7, was at sea in 1897, the Admiralty in 1898, Engineers Drawing Office, Chatham, 1899--1902, at sea 1902--04, Admiralty 1907--09, Chief Engineer of an HM dockyard from 1909, Engineer Vice-Admiral of the Fleet from 1922, retired 1928. Besides joining Babcock and Willcox in an executive capacity, he was made director on the boards of Broughton Copper, G. D. Peters, H. W. Kearns and Foster Wheeler, and, of course participated actively in the Institutions of Mechanical Engineers and Naval Architects. And he was quick on his feet. Remember his meeting with Grandfather, when he told the story of "the good Centurion," who promised to give the Saviour his "obedience unto death," and thus walks the world 'till judgement day in humble obscurity, spreading the good word, even, Dixie winked, to Canton and Nootka Sound?
I shall miss that old scamp.
The Economist, 5 August 1939
“The Parliamentary Watchdog:"
Parliament should sit through the holidays. Baldwin used to say that democracy was inefficient, because the electorate was slow to seize on the need for new initiatives. That says more about Baldwin’s excuse mongering than the electorate, the paper thinks. It has been the Commons that has driven the response to the current world crisis, not the Ministry. The PM has angrily rejected the idea that he is just waiting for the House to rise to fly off and appease some more. The PM denies this, but a sitting Parliament would give him some backbone.
“France Under Decree:”
"We still have unstable government. We still have profound divisions between Frenchmen. We still have shaken finances and a threatened currency. More than ever before we have a standstill economy, unworthy of a country so rich in resoiurces and the holder of a great empire.”
So said M. Jules Romain ten months ago to the Anciens Combatants of Toulouse, and he was only saying what millions of French were thinking. Much has been done in the last 10 months to improve things along the lines set in motion by the economic reforms of November 1938, and the latest batch of decrees take the country further. Premier Reynaud has sought to meet the most immediate problems: to raise armaments production, support the franc, and relieve the Treasury of its constant search for funds. Now he looks forward to the question of raising the birth rate, and checking the flight from the land. Most striking is the plan to defer the next election from next year until 1942. On the left, M. Blum is ever less likely to take office as the peace faction within the Socialists take hold. On the Right as on the Left, a year of hammering French foreign policy has born bitter fruit due to the bellicosity of the Axis, and the tainted outcome of their Spanish crusade has caused many bien-pensants to cease to commend themselves on their conduct during the civil war.
“Refugees in Britain.” At least 140,000 Jews have left Germany since the Nazis took office. Perhaps a quarter million more are potential refugees. There are perhaps 5 and a half million Jews in Central Europe whose position might become precarious in the future. An optimist sees Britain receiving 250,000 over the next two years, a pessimist, 1.5 million, while the worst case is the resettlement of 7 millions. Those who have already “infiltrated” this country can probably take care of themselves, as they are rich and skilled and own property here. It is the poor and undesireable ones who will need to go to Guiana or New Caledonia or South Georgia or wherever.
Notes of the Week
Britain and Japan: the substance of the Tientsin agreement aside, the paper has finally noticed that what Japan really wants is the Chinese state silver reserve, held in that town and the banning of the Chinese dollar. Britain, the paper observes, is not giving it to them. Let that only be true.
“America and Japan:” the denunciation of the American-Japanese commercial treaty of 1911 had a bad effect on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Roosevelt’s action, coming on the heels of the Russian announcement of ongoing fighting in Nomonhan, damages the Japanese government’s standing at home and its argument that only British intransigence stands in the way of a final settlement of the China question.
“Checking the Estimates:” GPO, Agriculture, civil air expenditures all rising suspiciously fast.
“Cabinet Directorships:” Lord Runciman has resigned from the boards of LMS and six shipping companies per the PM’s conflict of interest guidelines. It’s not necessary, but it is good optics.
Moscow; Danzig; civil defence; Hitler. Honestly, Reggie, you or I could write these brief notes. The next few months will be critical, etc, etc.
The French Family Code has been announced. France is to have a family allowance, a scheme in which a species of bounty is paid, I think to the mother, for each tow-headed little dear. Conversely, there will be increased penalties for abortion. The brandishing of clubs and castor oil in the wake of the invocation of the happy peals of childish laughter probably give away the game. The imagination is beggared at the thought of hard-done-by French rentiers footing the bill for "family allowances" and "maternity services" on a sufficient scale to discourage abortions, and so the law makes its majestic appearance, clouting abortionists and reluctant mothers alike. This is all due, of course, to France’s population falling. The paper does not fail to remind us that Britain’s will soon begin to do the same. As so often, I am moved to wonder whether the country would be better off if we simply turned our back and let approximately 7 million pieces of forged paper enter the country. We should have difficulty explaining the sudden accession of population, but a country so fertile with family genealogists should be able to overcome the difficulty.
The Dutch government has fallen again after being in office only 3 days. New Zealand’s new budget sees a substantial increase in social service spending, plus defence, to be balanced by excise taxes on beer and petrol. “Unlimited” public works expenditure is over, and Government is transferring men to industry as quickly as possible. A state-owned iron and steel industry is contemplated. Only increased production will support the higher standard of living demanded in the Dominion, the Government admits.
Elsewhere, the Tientsin crisis continues. Uncertainty over the fate of Chinese silver hangs over the market, and the Continental demand for gold has led to some mischief on the London market. The question is, I suppose, which gold is spiriting the wealth of the best sort of people west on winged feet, and which is being used to pay for Swedish iron for German shells.
Industry and Trade
“Record Employment:” Employment in June exclusive of agriculture is estimated to have risen by 95,000 to 12,064,000, the highest ever recorded, beating the previous record set in August 1937 by 350,000, and the number for June of 1938 by 650,000. The fall of unemployment has been almost as marked in the consumer industries as in defence. The number of unemployed remained stable at 1.256 million, so in theory there is still considerable scope for increased production. In reality, we are probably closer to the limit than this suggests, and the Government will soon have to move to restrict consumer goods output to keep armaments increasing.
Even in the North, general engineering unemployment is 8.2%, and in electrtcal engineering only 4.6%.
Also, British imports are up, as are railway wages; the French wheat glut is still an issue, oil prices are depressed.
Aeroplane 9 August
A certain prudishness has led me to be a little oblique about the content of the current Helliwell advertising campaign. It is a female model, nude from the waist up, and while Flight has been content to run it on the back pages, it appears on the front cover of this number of The Aeroplane. It is practically the only thing worth noting about this number, save for the unsurprising revelation that Mr. Grey’s was a welcome guest at the Frankfurt International Meeting and the first news that I ave seen about a variant of the Handley Page Hampden being built at the Belfast Short works with the Napier Dagger engine. The so-called Handley Page Hereford is “Belfast Production.” On the other hand, there is a long article, with an excellent cutaway sketch of the Skua. I gather from this that naval manufacturers are now using something called 'Alclad,' a sort of electrolytically-produced "sandwich" of corrosion-prone aluminium metal with aluminium oxide. Knowing the tricksy ways of saltwater corrosion, I arch an eyebrow, but will defer to the wisdom of the good and the great.
Flight 10 August 1939
Leader: The RAF has finally got its Technical Branch. Shades of Selbourne and Fisher. Literally. It is observed that Trenchard thought that the Force could get by without one, thereby avoiding the longstanding tempest-in-a-teapot over the Engineering Branch. But, (utterly unsurprisingly), it could not.
Further speaking of piloting and technology and the like, the Leader asks for someone to make the cockpit dashboard easier to use. It has too many dials and needles these days. The Leader also jumps, as far as I can tell, unprompted, to the Air Ministry's defence. In yet another utterly unsurprising turn, the paper thinks that the suggestion that the Air Ministry has canceled a helicopter development contract is a base canard. I include a clip (or, rather, a page fluttering free of one my cleaning ladies' magazines) explaining what a "helicopter" is. Mind the bacon stain.
Articles: Yet more details of the Skua
|The thing that folds is on the thing that folds, which is on the thing that folds. Good luck stressing that!|
and of the Catalina.
The article on the Skua rather made my eyes glaze, but the word "hydraulics" that kept jumping out at me rather reminds me of just how more than simple structural engineering goes into these new ships. The undercarriage is retracted hydraulically, and the flaps that cover the well are closed hydraulically, and the locking nut that keeps the undercarriage retracted is operated hydraulically, and so are the dive brakes and, for that matter, the airscrew's pitch-changing mechanism. It is all quite complicated, and reminds your son forcefully of the Dowty "Live-Line" carburetor. Perhaps you want to hear more about "control"? The attached specification box reduces the speed of the Skua "with normal Service equipment" to 225mph at 6500ft. In this case, "normal service equipment" includes an inflatable life raft! Very ship-shape.
because the damn things are turning into ships.
The first Ju-90 just flew into Croydon. Of the regular columnists, Indicator does not like it, while A. Viator does. He suggests that it is one of the first “forty seaters” that might actually seat 40. Hore-Belisha had to fly to Paris on Air France because Imperial was booked up.
Zeppelin LZ. 130 was spotted off the Scottish coast last Wednesday. The German Air Ministry at first denied its presence, but, the paper notes, there is no reason that LZ.130 should not have been there.
Foreign News: A new Italian bomber is announced;
Article: the Jameson high-speed two-stroke diesel aeroengine. The mania for liquefied livers shows little sign of abating.
The Engineer, 11 August 1939
Leader: the paper notes that the First Lord announced to the Commons on 2 August that the Fleet was adding 107 minesweeping/anti-submarine trawlers to the 1939 programme. Twenty are to be built, and 87 purchased. This presumably takes priority in the announcement because it has been a bad fishing season? Or am I too cynical? In any case, also provided for are over the 56 whale-catcher type coastal escorts, 10 Fleet minesweepers, 6 Boom Defence Vessels, 1 cable layer and 5000t floating drydock. together, these add 11 millions to the Naval Estimates. Still no word on the much-winked at battleship project.
The Economist, 12 August 1939
“Britain’s Underdeveloped Roads.” Nor is it just the roads. Every aspect of automobile travel seems underdeveloped, and not just the roads. Last last week I was inquiring into a traffic stop just outside of Chatham. The Metropolitan police force's vaunted radiocontrol net worked superbly. Fat Chow was just barely able to avoid the blockade. Unfortunately, it snared the vehicle he was following, and it is here that the issue of "underdevelopment" arose.
For when "Miss G.C." and I attended at the wardroom, we were told that there were no details of a traffic violations citation from the night before. A constable was summoned to the wardroom, and, under the influence of feminine wiles, eventually revealed that he had been persuaded that the vehicle in question was not racing down the Dover Road (for sport, as opposed to trying to escape implacable dacoits), but rather was responding to a medical emergency. Not a beat was skipped when the emergency in question was revealed to be a young woman in restraints, supposedly lest she bite clear through her own tongue. "Miss J.C.", of course. Heaven knows, of course, how much our whole family benefits from this kind of self-preservationary deference to famous names in Rolls-Royces,
but this was a bitter pill to swallow for Cousin Easton, even if I am privately relieved.
"Strategy in the Mediterranean:” Italy is dangerous by virtue of its central position, and purely naval intervention will be inadequate. Once we have invaded Sicily and Libya, on the other hand, its strangulation will proceed briskly.
“Mobilising Overseas Investments:” how much can we buy in the U.S.? We’re looking to find out by surveying British holdings there and investments elsewhere that might be sold to American interests. I confess to be a little dispirited by how far ahead this is telegraphed. Although I suppose that it would be hard to avoid after the experience of the last war. And I suppose that if family fortunes are discretely shifted into American war production, scoundrelry may be the last refuge of patriotism. At least, this is how I assuage my conscience.
“Notes of the Week:”
‘August 1914, and August, 1939.” The title says it all.
“The Mock War:” ‘The war rehearsal has been proceeding during the past week at an increased tempo. The manning of a reserve fleet of 133 ships, the further expansion of the number of Territorial Army units in training, the commencement of RAF exercise on a larger scale than any previously undertaken, have produced, at least for the men taking part, something of the atmosphere of real warfare.”
“Japanese Army Tactics:” the army is trying to manoeuvre the government into the Axis again. This is how to understand the provocations against Britain in China. The Prime Minister has indicated that he wants a settlement on general principles and in consultation with other interested powers, and, so far no sign of movement on money/silver.
“Imperial Airways in Difficulties.” Imperial is suspending passenger service because it has so damn much mail to carry. The Ebbw Vale development is in difficulties. It has been noted that development occurs in "ribbons" along roadways;
"Refugees in Britain;" The Economist apologises for saying last week that Jews are better than Englishmen, even thought that is not what it said. This is somewhere along the lines of ‘We’re sorry if you were offended by the thing that we said that is true.’
“The Liberals and Family Allowances.” The Liberal Party endorses same.
Danzig. The German summer manouevres continue, and Hitler’s timetable is obvious, with action expected after the King's Cup. I mean, his set piece speech at Nuremberg on 2 September. In other news, Germany is not mining enough coal due to steadily falling productivity in the mining sector. This happened in the Great War, too, if you will recall. Too much emphasis on production, not enough on development.
Expanding the French Air Force
This is a continuation of a 10 December 1938 article, by an expert observer of French aircraft production.
France has spent as much money on aircraft in the last year as in the previous 19 since the last war. Considerable progress has been made, but considerable progress needs to be made still. The main bottleneck is in engines, not airframes, and especially for engines giving over 1000hp. Orders have been placed abroad, and the Talbot concern has licensed Pratt and Whitney designs, SIGMA the Bristol Hercules. Ford is to build Rolls-Royce types.
There is a general acceleration in deliveries, especially of new types. In the gloom of 1939, production was only 53 planes/month. In December it was 73, and in January it had risen to 94. These figures only apply to fighters with a speed of at least 310mph and bombers of 265mph. In April and May, the numbers had risen to 113 and 160 respectively, rather less than official forecasts of 120 and 170, respectively. In June, the rise continued to 175 aircraft delivered, 110 of them chasseurs. These figures are projected to be maintained in July, but in August and September production will hit 200/month, and, after September, a sustained rate of 300 will be achieved. The overall plan is for a program of 4800 a/c and 12,000 engines completing in March 1940, giving a first line strength of 2,617 planes. Payment for this will require 18.5 milliards of francs, of which 11 million will come out of the Budget, and 7.5 from supplementaries. Labour problems have been relieved by the relaxation of the 40 hour week. Roughly 52,000 are working in the aviation industry: 40,000 in public factories; 12,000 in private (Gourdou, 800; Breguet, 3200; Levasseur, 300; Morane, 1400; Caudron, 2700; Amiot, 2400; Kelner, 600.) A notable example of a mass-produced fighter is the Dewoitine D. 520, which needs only 6000 man hours to produce, compared to 30,000 for the M.S. 406 in its initial run, although this is down to 14,000 currently. We are told that the end of the engine impasse is at hand, too. The Societe National de Construction de Moteurs at Argentuil has a 1600hp water-cooled engine in hand.
“Cars and Residential Building in the U.S.A.”
The point in the business cycle at which this country now finds itself is a matter of some uncertainty. It might be that last autumn’s upturn might have been a flash-in-the-pan, or “soda-water rally.” Or it might be that we have seen a six month “consolidation,” prior to resumed upward motion. The balance of opinion is towards the latter, and Our New York Correspondent looks forward to the fall with something between hope and confidence.
The building index is up, showing that construction, which has been a laggard in this economy, is coming back. Remarkably, Our New York Correspondent analyses the case to reveal that this has been the President's fault. For the low financing available through the FHA has encouraged new building, which has held down the price of existing housing stock, which has reduced the capital on hand for investment, which has held back the recovery.
I tremble in anticipation as Our New York Correspondent gallops towards the fence. Will he attempt it, or shy away? Surely the next step is to argue that the lack of capital has depressed the building market, so that all of the new building has led to less new building. But, no, at the last he shies away, and canters off into the distance, giving the unmistakeable impression that he believes that he would have cleared the rail had he only tried.
On a slightly more sensible note, he adds that new building tends to be automobile oriented. With construction in suburbs, new houses are being located with respect to how many minutes it takes to drive to the commuter rail station.
Now here is a novelty for this number of the paper, one which we owe to Our New York Correspondent: a “Letters to the Editor” section.
Correspondent H. H. Abbati points out, contra ONYC, that the notion that America is short of investment capital is as fallacious in 1939 as when it was advanced in The Times by Malcolm McDonald in 1930. “There can be no shortage of capital when large quantities of unclaimed wealth exist in the form of abundant supplies of unemployed labour, unemployed capital equipment, and unemployed surplus stocks of goods. It is an undisputed fact that large quantities of such unclaimed wealth exist in the United States, and thus the trouble is not lack of capital, but rather the lack of incentive for the investment of capital in new capital equipment. . . . The symptoms of a shortage of capital due to insufficient voluntary saving are full employment, rising prices and currency depreciation, none of which are present to-day in America.”
Correspondent M. F. W. Joseph makes the same point. “It seems to me that your New York correspondent has been unduly impressed by Mr. Keynes’ latest terminology. It is true that on his definitions, savings and investment are necessarily equal. The fact that there has been little or no net investment in the United states during the last ten years may also be expressed by saying that there has been little or no net savings. But to conclude from this that net investment would be encouraged by a reduction of individual consumption, as your correspondent appears to recommend, is to make completely fallacious use of the above definitional identity.
Such a suggestion follows indeed the orthodox tradition of classical economic teaching. But then classical economic teaching was based on the assumption of a constant national income and full employment. Under these conditions, an increase in investment could only be achieved by cutting down consumption.
In the United States, where, as your correspondent ponts out, the national income fell within three years from $80 milliards to $50 milliards, and unemployment increased by more than 11 millions, the classical assumptions seem rather out of place. . . . Your correspondent is perfectly justified in regarding the stagnation in investment as “the outstanding fact” in the United States economic situation. Any policies –monetary, fiscal, or other—which would stimulate investment would be highly desireable; but there seems little evidence that a curtailment of consumption could be included in this category.”
This, it strikes me, is the salient point that relieves my concerns as I move to follow Grandfather's instructions. Whatever the wise and learned suppose or do not suppose about the extended swoon of the American economy, the coming of war will relieve it by substituting the purchasing power of the armed services for that of the consumer. The interesting question will be whether we will see some species of rebound on the consumer side, as has happened in Britain under the stimulus of rearmament.
In the latest news, entrants into the combined King's Cup and Wakefield challenge are now down to 26, as Easton, among others, has withdrawn. He allows to the aviation press that he is still fllying in anticipation of competing in the Coupe Deutsche de la Merthe, if it is flown this year, but that seems to me to be a (rather expensive excuse for lingering in London.
Speaking of London, the much talked-of documents in the hands of the cousins proves to be a bit of a damp squib. It turns out that Great-Great-Grandfather decide to prepare his eldest son for greater responsibilities not by letting him deputise as JP or something that required substantive work, but as a near sinecure in the Worshipful Corporation of Drovers of Rainham. As such, he signed his hand to some documents pertaining to pasture rights in a coal forest in the Weald. (Now we can understand the Coal Association's involvement. They presumably brought the document to the cousin's attention.)
|The Weald, from runningandriding.co.uk|
Naturally, that signature is quite different from the one which he exhibited after his return from his time in Bantam and points east. Almost as though by a different, albeit illegitimately related hand ore familiar with the feel of the inkbrush and the curl of cedar from the chisel. Of course, such evidence would be laughed out of Chancery, so we are once again thrown back on the suggestion that the cousins are willing to expose the dirty laundry of one of the greatest families of England in a doomed court challenge. "But there is more," they say. "We have other documents in the same vein. Wait until you see them!"
I am still not seeing the connexion with the contested estate, but the Earl is agitated, and seeks a monetary resolution. The problem is that the negotiations promise to be drawn out, not least because of the difficulty of drawing Commander Acworth into some tangential relationship with the world as it is. You know who else is agitated? ICI. I have told him, and Grandfather, that we should simply push the sale through and see who, and what, turns up in court on the day. The worst that can happen is a summer's delay in the company's plans, and, perhaps, that of the Air Ministry behind them.