Sunday, July 2, 2023

Postblogging Technology, March 1953, I: Death of Stalin


Dear Father:

What an exciting few weeks it has been. And what a terrible time to be a weekly news magazine with the slow turnaround of The Economist, which is now all the way to the middle of the March with no idea who might be running the Soviet Union. Not only has Stalin's tyranny run its course, but so, almost, as not only law school but one's own delicate condition. I know that you are all impatient to know my arrival date, but I am finalising plans for moving out of the house and putting the furniture in storage, and exactly how that goes will determine the train I finally catch. I look forward to seeing you all, and am grateful to have a familiar home to go to in this hour. 

Your Loving Daughter,

PS: You may have noticed all the pink in the picture attached. 

The Economist, 7 March 1953


"World Without Stalin" Don't get too excited just because Stalin is dead. The new regime in Moscow might be less predictable, or there might be a power struggle, and that would be bad. 

"Developing Dominions" The "two white-peopled Dominions of the Commonwealth" have been booming along, but Canada is "confident" and Australia is "uncertain." This despite the fact that Canada's boom will falter if America does go into a recession, because the whole world will be in trouble if America starts to stagnate again. The Economist is pleased that "secondary" development is taking place in Canada without reducing "primary," which is yet another dig at Australia's industrial policy. It also likes the way that Canada's disinflationary response to the Korean war was carefully calibrated to check investment in housing, services and "other non-essentials," where Australian disinflation checked investment in coal mining and agriculture, and that is bad. Australia and Canada both thought that demand for primary products would slump over the next few years, but while Australia has stuck to that idea and continued to encourage secondary investment, Canada has not. Good Canadians! Bad Australians! Also, Canada is nicer than Australia because you can always put on a sweater when it is cold, but what can you do when it is hot? Eh? Eh? In conclusion, Australis is going to get what's coming to it.

"Traffic with Communist China" So we are not going to have a UN blockade of Communist China. That isn't going to stop us Americans from sticking our noses in where they belong. (Because American noses belong everywhere!) So if a Finnish tanker brings Rumanian oil to Shanghai, that's a problem. If ships unload cargoes in Formosa and then continue to China, that's a problem. If Ceylon sells rubber to China, that's a problem. If Formosan pirates keep trying to intercept British shipping in the South China Sea, that's not a problem. They should be grateful we're not just blowing them out of the water! But on the other hand we're not going to ban trade with China and drive it completely into the hands of the Eastern Bloc. That would be crazy! So we will find some compromise where we can  trade with China and still pirate it. 

"School and Privilege" It's not private schools that is the problem. It's the fact that all those middle class children are dumb that's the problem. (I find it fascinating that on the one hand The Economist is perfectly willing to admit that rich parents can give their children advantages such as private tutors as long as the conversation is about taxing these sorts of things for egalitarian reasons, and on the other argue that the reason that poor kids can't get into grammar schools is that they lack the talent, or ability, or whatever the euphemism is.)

Notes of the Week 

"Labour Accepts Defence" The defence omnibus bill has bundled together a continuation of the Attlee government's defence spending expansion with an extension of national service, and given the choice of defeating the Attlee programme or accepting the current National Service period, the Labour front benches have gone with the latter. This is in spite of the fact that the actual defence expenditure has fallen well behind the Attlee projection. Spending has indeed risen from £250 million a year to £730 million, but this is only half of what was projected two years ago. The front bench will argue that the Churchill government has not been willing to impose the necessary controls, and try to make up with the Bevanites by opposing the Central African Federation. Also, the new Administration is is sympathetic to Britain's balance of exchange difficulties and will do anything it can that doesn't inconvenience America. Looking back at coverage of the death of Lenin, The Economist draws a lesson from the fact that no-one published the latest news of Stalin. This goes to show that Russia is a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in some of that nice paper they have at Magnin's. Or like those dolls where they have dolls inside them. Only instead of a doll it's that successor to Stalin we would never have expected.  

"Too Phoney For Words" General Ridgeway's public spat with Bradley over blockade versus a new offensive in Korea is so obviously fake that The Economist is embarrassed for the Administration. The flight of East Germans into Berlin is reaching "record" proportions. Right now the communists have mixed feelings about it, because they have tried to stop it on the one hand, and have milked all the embarrassment for the Federal Republic there is to be had from it on the other. The question is what the West is to do about it. The Economist suggests giving all the refugees a free pass to emigrate to America, Canada or Australia. One of those countries that isn't Britain, anyway. The Royal Titles Act is through Parliament after Enoch Powell and Emrys Hughes threw their own unique fits over it. (The Scottish  nationalists want no "II" in Elizabeth's title, Powell is upset at signs of politeness to the brown folk.) Having promised economies in the bloat and expense of government, the Conservatives have merged two ministries. That'll show Labour! (And the country. The country matters, too.) Talk of expanding the role of "development areas" has The Economist upset. Lord Ismay is a great and good friend of the magazine and he is visiting North America on some sort of Nato business, and that requires a Note about Nato, even though there is nothing to say. Everyone can agree that the settlement of the Krupp situation is very embarrassing for the Allies. The question is, who's fault is this in particular, and the answer, of course, is that it is America's. If we had just nationalised Krupp industries when we had the chance, the former(?) Nazi wouldn't be one of the richest men in Germany with plenty of time to enjoy his money. Persia hasn't exploded yet, which is very upsetting. It looks like there is no alternative to an army coup led by the Shah. There are too many prisoners these days. Punishing crime is all very well, but have you looked at the accounts? There is progress on the dog-bites-livestock front, stalemate on the man-bites-dog front. The Simplified Spelling Act is silly, and we should all point fingers and laugh at it. The new Administration thinks it would be swell if Japan did more about confronting Communism in Asia, because what could go wrong? Mr. Stassen promises to scold everyone who trades with Communism quite sternly and otherwise not do very much unless it involves Koumintang pirates. Chiang having made it clear that the Koumintang is not going to invade the mainland at any point in the near future, the question is how many guns we have to give him before he will start making serious commando raids on the mainland in the service of. Hang on, the end of that sentence is missing! I know it's here somewhere! In the mean time, have you called Senator Knowland?

From The Economist of 1853, "Free Trade in Vice" a letter from faithful reader Donald Matheson of Edinburgh, who disapproves of free trade in liquor. 


Robert Boothby explains that standing apart from western European unification is a disastrous policy for Britain and the implications for convertibility are so obvious that they do not need to be explained to me. I disagree! On the other hand, I also would get bored of the explanation and stop reading, so maybe it is for the best. Ted Leather, who seems to be an MP, explains why the Central African Federation will be great for coloured people. Lord Vansittart is very upset at the Sudan agreement and takes it out on The Economist. "Marginal User" hopes that the upcoming revision of the Copyright Act takes advantage of the moment to modify Section 19(1) of the current act. So say we all!


The third volume of J. G. Randall's biography of Abraham Lincoln is out and seems to be one of those that pictures a re-elected Lincoln reuniting the Union quickly, gently and affectionately with "great Christian charity," which is the only way to run a big country. As opposed to, say, Reconstructing the slaveholding South. J. A. I Agar-Hamilton and L. C. F. Turner have Crisis in the Desert, the first study of the fighting from Gazala to First Alamein. The two South African official historians  have a lot to day, understandably when South Africa's second division (a huge proportion of a small country's military manpower) went into Axis captivity during the fighting. It was apparently all the fault of British generals, with the South Africans doing the best they can, and no blame to be cast on tanks and antitank guns, as has been the fashion. Howard Robinson has Britain's Post Office, explaining to American readers how a post office could possibly make money. Simon Kuznets and Raymond Goldsmith have Income and Wealth in the United States, while John Holloway's The Victorian Sages sweeps aside false piety and shows them to be cantankerous and opinionated. The Economist hopes that the next book will be a bit less vapid and tell us what those opinions were. 

American Survey 

"New State on the Doorstop" Hawaii will finally be a state because it votes Republican and there is a Republican administration. Alaska will be admitted to the Union too as a compensation. The Senate will be balanced, but the GOP will gain in the House. But some people worry about having a state way out in the Pacific, which is code for "too many coloured people." There is going to be legislation about the dairy trade but my eyes skipped over the first paragraph into the midst of a potted history of the dairy industry in the United States, which leads me to think that the actual story isn't that important. It is not as though foreigners are suddenly going to find a lucrative market exporting butter and skimmed milk to America! 

American Notes

"Second Thoughts on Yalta" Now that there's a GOP President and a GOP Secretary of State, most of the Congressional party is happy to forget that it wants to repudiate the Yalta agreement. Senator Taft is the exception, but it looks like he will be satisfied by a resolution complaining that the Russians put one over on us, after which business as usual. It looks like the President will accept some version of "stand by" wage and price controls on the basis of the Capehart plan. It looks like there might not be enough Communist and ex-Communist teachers in America to supply all the Congressional committees that will be witch-hunting them. (That's The Economist's joke, not mine.) Most Americans, Senator Taft apart(!) are happy to see Communist teachers fired, but they are also against Federal control of teaching. The RFC is trying to sell the nation's synthetic rubber plants to private enterprise again, and the FCC has approved the American Broadcasting/Paramount Theatres merger at long last.

The World Overseas

Time for some leaden moralising, I say!

"Boss of the Bolsheviks" Stalin gets a surprisingly brief sort of obituary. I think  the odd tone is because the magazine had to go to press before the Boss's death was officially announced the other Friday. I wonder if the next issue (which I have, but no peeking!)  will be a bit more fulsome? Also, we review the Uno dunning up the membership for their club dues, the ongoing passive resistance campaign in South Africa, explain the settlement of the Krupp affair in a bit more detail, and explore the effects in Israel of Russia's diplomatic turn against it. We also look (AT LAST) at the Rhodesian tobacco crop that makes the colony untouchable in London thanks to its contribution to the balance of exchange. United Kingdom manufacturers have just undertaken to buy 410 million pounds of tobacco in 1953--7, which is a lot more than the 48 million lbs bought in 1951 or the 60 million in 1952, both of which were well short of the original targets of 75 and 80 million pounds, respectively. Growers planted 168,000 acres in 1951, enough to "reap " 115 million pounds. (Tobacco isn't reaped, my editorial friend; it is picked, by very skillful pickers, I presume of one of the coloured race. Word to the wise.) But there wasdrought, and the crop fell well short of that at 89 1/2 million lbs. So again in 1952, this time the problem being too much rain in January and too little in March. At this point The Economist pauses to acknowledge the role of skill, specifically that of the planters. New planters flocked to the industry during the wartime boom, and many have either departed or are running inefficient farms dragging down the rest of the 2600 planters, who aim at 700lb per acre this year, half of what American farmers produce. Everyone is pitching in on research, and a heavy crop is promised this year, higher than 1950's record 105 million pounds, enough to satisfy the British contract, Australian orders, and still have 30 million pounds to export to Europe. Hurrah!

The Business World

"Bricks and Mortar" The Economist checks in with the building supplies industry, which has been having trouble delivering enough plasterboard, cement and bricks to build all the houses, atomic plants, airfields, and radar stations needed. Most of the defence programme building being done by August, it is to be hoped that the gradually rising  supply of same will be enough to build the minimum target of 300,000 homes, but leaving it uncertain just how many factories it will be possible to erect. There is talk of pension reform to make more pensions "portable" from one workplace to another.

Business Notes

Gold and dollar reserves are increasing slowly but steadily, the recovery in industrial production similarly continues, albeit slowly, the price of tea is up, the Government is stepping in to prevent losses on the futures market for cotton spinners, Standard Motor's Vanguard has been the biggest car on the British market, but now the company is going to produce Wily Overland's jeep under license, with Wily Overland undertaking to distribute Standard's sports car (which turns out to be the Triumph, the former company having bought the latter) in America. It looks like competition for Rover's highly successful Land Rover! The Economist has dug up an economist who thinks that Britain should continue to make heavy overseas investments in the dominions in spite of not having the current accounts surplus to fund those investments any more. BEA is cutting costs in an economy drive to meet the pressure on revenues of tourist fares. Various estimates of the increased domestic demand for coal in the event of de-control run from 4.5 million tons to 5 million, it being uncertain just how much demand has been priced out by recent price increases. The Economist speculates that decontrol would be very yard on alternative "fuel" sources like electricity and gas. Electricity isn't a fuel! The rayon industry is back at capacity, international trade in sulphur has been decontrolled, Silver City Airways has bought out Aquila. 


"Left, Right?" It's the old joke about how the old mother's Albert is the only one in the whole regiment marching in step. That is, why is it that only one British company is offering a turbojet airliner? It's true that the Comet is going to make as much money as the best American prop airliners except perhaps on some picked routes, but it has a pretty good load factor and it is fast as heck. Is there something wrong? Is it all about the subsidies? No, everything is fine, ignore that crash in India! As for turboprops, the thing is that all the very powerful engines are being let down by their propellers, which, considering how complicated they are, is no surprise. Older aircraft re-engined with turboprops can't be expected to be good, and that leaves the Viscount, with the cautious Dart, which is showing such good fuel consumption figures that it really is a threat to internal combustion machines and possibly jets, too

From All Quarters

BOAC's Comets have already flown 10,000 hours and carried 17,000 passengers. That's a lot! The proposed Bristol Britannia maritime-reconnaissance variant will be equipped with four Napier Nomads and be capable of flying from Canada to Britain outfitted for sub hunting. It will have guns in the wings and a "heavy load of torpedoes." And it will be built in Canada, bringing significant dollar earnings to Britain. The Avon R. 3 is now rated at 6500lbs thrust, and the newer RA.7R will hit 9000. Aquila Airways has been bought by Silver Cities, and  news arrives of the Canadian Pacific Comet crash in Karachi as Flight goes to press. The new Luftwaffe will have 10 wings of 75 fighters or bombers each, all standard European types. 

"About the Air Estimates"  The Air Estimates are for a total of £458 millions, fifty of that American mutual defence aid. This is up £80 million over last year, even though the peak of the works programme has passed. The Navy Estimates are for £404 million, thirty-five from the United States. Work will continue on Ark Royal, Victorious, and four Hermes-class, but the Admiralty's main focus is mine and antisubmarine warfare. 

The Council of the Air League of the British Empire has a plan where the Government gives private air charters 100 airliners for the good of the Empire. Glad to see the socialists out of office, as we can get back to the spirit of free enterprise! 

SHAPE has been reorganised, there is a new missile range in Australia, Flight weighs in on the new High Duty Alloys forging press, but with a picture, which is nice.

Here and There

This feature is all social news and sighting reports (for example, of the first Victor) this week. 


H. G. Davies writes on aircrew training. A. H. Yates, who is also the subject of a letter about his sonic boom theory from Gordon Longsworth, writes to defend himself against an Aer Lingus pilot criticising his interpretation of  the St. Kevin accident. Yates points out that he is actually just summarising the accident report.

Flight introduces the special air transport issue with a page of velleities from air industry exeutives around the world before launching into its annual "Trends in Air Transport" review. Aircraft are getting bigger, faster and cheaper (to fly) it says  here. 

"Tomorrow Takes Shape" A bunch of new airliners are on the way, powered by engines we've already heard about. I guess we're not going to hear about the one's we don't hear about. Some of the ones that only exist as sketches look quite exciting. 

Our American Correspondent reports his "American Appreciation" which is that American airlines are getting bigger and better in every way, which is great, and that Americans at this one session were full of sour grapes about the Comet. It's uneconomical! The engines are unreliable! What if a window blows out at 35,000ft? Silly stuff like that. 

In the Far East, more people are flying further, too.

"Airline Avionics" is a "condensed history" of electronic aids to flying from the good old Lorenz up through Console, with a side note that VOR might not conquer the world because it is just so expensive to fill the air over an entire nation with VHF radio beacon broadcasts. 

"Commercial Aircraft in 1953" A pictorial of airliners in service. 

We review BEA's year, the new Conservative policy on dividing air routes between the corporations and private operators, progress in cabin comfort (better air conditioning!) and airport equipment, all had much shorter length than the huge catalogues Flight used to publish before the war. 

The Economist, 14 March 1953


"Three Masters in the Kremlin" Malenkov, Beria and Bulganin are in charge in the Kremlin and The Economist turns to the natural and normal concern that any reasonable person would have in this situation. Soviet economic policy might turn to the left! (Also maybe there will be a purge or "instability" or WWIII. But, mainly, there might be more collectivisation.)

"No Churchill" Everyone agrees that Attlee's £4.7 billion rearmament programme is dead. "We are al Bevanites now." Glad to see the magazine catching up with ME! There's "no Churchill" in the sense that the old Churchill would have been upset, but nowadays we can see that we can't afford to build all those guns and still export everything. But it really seems like the new programme, which is  effectively cutting new arms procurement in half, from £1.5 billion to £730 million, is a bit much. Maybe the programme of 1950 was panicked and unrealistic, but this one threatens national security. The threat from the beginning is that by 1954 the Russians might have enough atomic bombs to wage atomic war against America, and a large enough army to overrun Western Europe, including Britain, in the first weeks of a war. That is why Nato set out to build a large enough land army to stop the Russians, and Churchill's certainty that the Russians are not making many atom bombs does not carry conviction, and seems politically calculated. The Economist frames the calculation in terms of the Conservatives not wanting to look like warmongers, but frankly in my opinion it is more about taxes and the return on bonds trumping national security.

"Schools Without Selection" It's dumb to try to have egalitarian schools because then the children of our subscribers might have to compete with the smart kids! 
The Economist of 1853 has "The Sale of Votes" It seems as though there might be a scandal over newly enfranchised poor people selling their votes? The magazine thinks that as long as the upper and middle casses are addicted to patronage and preferment, no-one has anything to complain about except those continental despots who don't like parliamentary rule. 

"New Styles in Economic Unions" Something or other is keeping the United States of Europe, mainly the fact that the Europeans are not being liberal enough. If only they would throw their economies open to the full rigours of competition, all the balance of payment issues that force them to adopt capital controls would vanish overnight! 

Notes of the Week

The new French government is having trouble with the Gaullists over the European Defence Community. The death of Stalin hasn't caused the kind of eruption in the Labour Party that The Economist manages to imply reasonable people might have expected. Butler and Eden's trip to Washington to win the British over to the position that sterling is so good for the world that Britain deserves to have its hand held forever, does not seem to have produced results. Fancy that! East European communists have failed to issue full and detailed position papers on the death of Stalin, which goes to show that Communism is bad. President Tito has expedited his visit to London and "is on his way secretly by sea." Maybe you shouldn't have told us that? He probably wants some military aid, and some day we're going to have to settle the whole Trieste matter. Rumours continue of rent increases to cover  repairs. Fabians and the Cooperative Party are unhappy about this, and propose to put the local authorities in charge of managing housing, paying out any profits left over to landlords, and effectively "nationalising rent," which does sound a bit silly. The Board of Trade is still working on the problem of monopoly, which is very different in Britain from the United States because Britain is so small and America is so big. The Board of Trade is not pro-labour, and shouldn't be. Everything is looking bright as the new, almost-independent, almost-democratic government of Vietnam celebrates the fourth anniversary of the plan for Vietnamese self-government within the French Union, and the raising of a 50 battalion Vietnamese army, which is just around the corner. Fluctuations in the world price of raw  materials, and particularly American import prices, make it very hard for under-developed countries to manage their finances, and hit countries in the sterling bloc particularly hard. Hungary's offer to trade  Edgar Sanders ("Mr. Sanders") for Malayan Communist ("Miss") Lee Meng is superficially a good idea but actually an outrage to the British sense of fair play and justice, harrumph. The agreement between Australia and Britain to harmonise social service benefits will encourage dependent family members to emigrate to Australia with the working members of their family and good riddance! (Careful not to say that last bit out loud!) Next up, Italy, and, beyond that, a "common western citizenship" like the federalists like to talk about. It's hard to be a professional author these days what with one thing and another. Some kind of tax adjustment has been suggested by the Society of Authors. The Economist has a suggestion. West African education budget proposals are unrealistically high. The magazine suggests educating a small minority well, rather than a large number poorly, at least as it sees things. A Note on what's keeping the United States of Europe, and a Note on "Western Europe's coal" showing that Britain has been doing quite well at increasing productivity per labour hour; nevertheless, it compares poorly with the smaller coal producers on the score of regaining prewar production totals, is doing poorly on exports, and isn't investing nearly as much as some other countries. 

Norman Angell writes to correct the common assumption that he used to say that war had become impossible. What he said was that war would be far more awful than anyone realised, that it would probably come, and that it would be terrible and costly. R. F. Kahn thinks that "Mr. Bernstein's" February letter was very unrealistic about the economic costs of free trade and currency exchange to the rest-of-the-world under current conditions. The blow to their economies is likely to greatly exceed the benefits of free trade. A. C. I. Day adds that devaluation would not necessarily help the United States as it hurts Britain and Europe. The primary benefactors are more likely to be the primary producer countries. J. F. Q. Switzer has concerns about the new-fangled approach to town planning that leads to excessive population density in the inner areas of the older cities and also too many dormitory suburbs and commuting. Which leaves me puzzled by what he thinks is the right policy approach. Glyn Picton has no time for the magazine's advocacy of a higher coal price. W. Grey defends the proposed Press Council. 


Two of Fritz Machlups' economics treatises have finally been issued, and they are very worthy books indeed. Jane Dunbar's The Early Victorian Woman concludes that women actually had it pretty good back in those days because they had lots of servants. I honestly have no words. Simon Harcourt Smith's The Marriage at Ferrara is a horrid attempt to defend Lucrezia Borgia and her relations, says the magazine. Sheila Patterson's Colour and Culture in South Africa could have used more outrage and emotion to go with the sociological science. The latest volume on the laws and government cover "the youngest dominion" of Ceylon. Paul Berg's Dictionary of New Words in English and G. H. Vallins' Better English are very worthy books, although The Economist is upset that Berg skipped "disinflation" and included "motorcade." Ruby Turner North's Theory of Consumer Demand has been republished, Dorothy George's England in Transition is good a history of England in the 1700s as it was when it was first published twenty years ago. Samuel Rosenman's book on Roosevelt and Walter Lippman's book on American public opinion are both worth noting.
American Survey

"How Good a Creditor" The United States would really like to be done with all of this fussing about balances of exchange and this and that, but it needs export markets for American farms, so it has to sit down and think about this stuff, which is hard, and explain it to Congress, which is harder, and to the President, which is hardest of all. Everyone is upset about the state of affairs on the New York docks.

American Notes

"Pass the Ammunition" "Hopes that the retiring commander of the Eighth Army, General Van Fleet, would prove a second MacArthur when he returned to Washington, have proved exaggerated." Taft was hoping for a new inquiry into what all was up with the Korea situation and the armistice, but was "howled down" by the Democrats. (So rude!) Besides, General Van Fleet's prescription for victory is extending conscription to three years, less rotation, and no withdrawal of American troops from Korea, and no-one wants to hear that. What he has been allowed to precipitate is a new discussion about ammunition shortages in Korea. This is a relative shortage, since the Army has used more ammunition in Korea than it used in the entire European war, and there is almost enough built up in Korea for resumed offensive operations, but Congress is still upset that all the billions spent on rearmament have not had more results. Peak production is not expected before the summer, six months behind schedule, and will have to be carried through the new year and the new budget, hopes for a lower defence budget under the GOP notwithstanding. The Administration seems to be getting cold feet over Tidelands, Senator Taft has taken over negotiations for amendments to the Taft-Hartley Act, The Council of Economic Advisors is to be continued after all, but with a new panel of Republican economic advisors (I'm sorry; I mean, "less political") led by Arthur Burns

"A Living Index" The new cost of living index is explained at length. 

The World Overseas

"The Changes at the Kremlin" The Economist spends longer explaining them than they lasted.
"Japanese Trade Unions in Trouble" The Yoshida government is proposed anti-strike legislation while the trade unions are in the throes of an attempted internal reformation. The Economist thinks that the legislation will undermine moderate reformists. Something is keeping the United States of Scandinavia. 
The Business World

"Building Societies on the Bit" A Year ago, when the new bank rate hit 4%, the Building societies capitulated and raised their rates from 2 1/4 to 2.5% tax-free, and their loan rates from 4 to 4.5%, and savings are up, but The Economist dredges up a bunch of statistics to show that it's not actually good news about an increased savings rate. Also, while the cost of houses has risen two and a half times since before the war, the increase has slowed and steadied, and land prices haven't risen at all, so the price at which some second-hand homes have traded hands recently looks silly, which I think means that the Building Societies do actually still work mainly to fund mortgages? Because I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't!

"Power for Industry" Sales of electrical power to industry have risen 46% since the war, to 25,700 units in 1951. Perhaps another 8000 to 9000 units are generated by industry for their own use. Much of the rest of the article is about oddities in the tariffs charged to consumers of various sizes and in various regions, but there's an interesting point about how British industry is perceived to lag behind various other ones due to lower electricity consumption per labour hour, which makes me wonder about the industry-generated figures.


Business Notes

Given that two cabinet ministers went to Washington to talk about important things, this should be an important story, even though nothing happened. To compensate for all the nothing, we'll run more stories about it! More than half the loss in share prices since interest rates began to rise after the election have now been regained. The gap between industrial equities and the old Consoles that gaped so wide in June has also narrowed, perhaps because of hopes for tax relief, perhaps because of the end of an era of "undue dividend restraint." The Steel Bill continues in its march to wherever it is going, the new film levy puts "film policy" (of subsidy for British films) "into the open." Something about shares in Rhodesian mines; Canadian Pacific hasn't made nearly as much money out of the Canadian boom as you would expect, which is bad for CP shares; a controversy about building a public gallery at the London Stock Exchange is definitely an important story worth press coverage here. Mine labour is up, although not much, since the desperate shortage of 1950, and already we are practically at the point of having too many miners in some districts. There must be a better way of running an industry! A future markets in wool tops is "well under way," some banks are raising interest rates, the textile industry is arguing about standards, trade with Latin America is down, branded margarine might be back in the Fall if price controls are relaxed enough, the cotton industry-funded Shirley Institute does good research, the Israeli money situation is calming down as the Bank of England stops blocking some of it in "Number Two" accounts, although on the other hand word of an Israeli gold  shekel is not going over well. Commodity prices are firming up somewhat. 

And for the boys who have fallen asleep at all the talk of rates and yields, the Army's new heavy gun tank has arrived. might be "the most powerful tank in the world," but will be the focus of the postwar tank design controversy. It will be 70 tons, comparable to the JS-3, have an even bigger gun than the Centurion's 20 pounder


"Hands Off Bomber Command!" Rumours that the RAF is going to give up Bomber Command and let the Americans take over all bombing has Flight beside itself. Unless Britain can blow up Moscow, no Briton could ever look one of the lesser races in the eye again! Or something like that. 

"From the Defence Debate" Flight offers statistics from the debate showing that the new medium bombers are an absolute steal at a flyaway price of £300,000 each. 

"The Defence Debate" Unlike The Economist, Flight is ready to get down in the weeds, although it turns out that not much was accomplished there. It seems like the parliamentary criticism that  has Flight so hot under the collar has mainly to do with the notion that the new medium bombers are too "complicated" and need too much airfield.  

Lots of so-the-pilot-won't-die features
From All Quarters is mainly concerned with a the MiG-15 of a Polish pilot who has defected to the West seeking asylum. There are some nice photos of it, less so of the Supermarine Swift, which has apparently exceeded the speed of sound on several occasions. English Electric Canberra Mk. 2s are rolling off the production line. Here and There is mostly social again, but notes the loss of the prototype Mystere in a test flight. 

Flight visits the cadets and reports on the Canadian Pacific loss, which seems to have been Howell's fault, which doesn't fit the man I knew.

"The Helicopter Pilot's Viewpoint" Helicopter pilots gave several papers to the British Helicopter Association that were less generous than the usual boosting, no surprise there. 

Aircraft Intelligence reports that the RAF's ambulance/freighter is getting a redesign; the Vampire T11 is getting a dorsal fin extension, the Chase C-123 is finally in production, rumours have the Douglas jet transport departing the American swept-wing practice in favour of a crescent wing, the Grumman S2F-1 is the first American search-and-strike type, and physical statistics for the C-130 are given.

John Yoxall takes a trip to South Africa in a Varsity, Flight Refuelling has an American contract, Flight reviews Robert Sherrod's History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II as a first class history, and summarises the current order book for British commercial aircraft. 

"Future Methods of Construction:" A Precis of H. J. Pollard's Lecture to the Royal Aeronautical Society This part deals with Fiberglas briefly, and then moulded plastics. 

Air Japan's internal route map is out, Hunting is doubling the frequency of its "Safari" flights to Kenya, the Comet accident investigation team is in Karachi. 

Business Roundup
is a Republican Depression on the way? Fortune is on the story. Senator Knowland says that we are fighting a "psychological campaign" against the Communists. Apparently the Administration is doing the same with American business! On the one hand, the Administration is being somewhat deflationary and is trying to hold firm on tax cuts. On the other, well, it's not actually doing very much. If there is a Korean armistice, the mid-year will see a sharp deflationary shock. Meanwhile, even though durable goods production is at a postwar high, far higher than sales. The savings rate is falling along with the cost of living. The economy seems to be short about $4 billion in buying power to sop up all the production, Credit has been taking the slack so far, but consumer credit totals are rising. Behind durables are capital goods, and machine tool orders are falling, even if current order books are full.Exports are at their lowest level since the Depression. Imports are down less, and that means that the rest of the world is building up its gold and dollar reserves, which may return as more exports later in the year. So, Depression or not? You decide!

Fortune's Wheel is thrilled to report that Fortune publisher C. D. Jackson is off on leave to join the President's newly created Committee on International Information Activities, which is the sixth time he has gone off to do important national service since becoming publisher. I am fine with this as long as it doesn't affect the price of my subscription. If I were a cynic I'd be wondering what Jackson's  nephrologist thinks about it. 


"Who Says the Budget Can't Be Cut?" Saying that the defence budget can't be cut is like saying that President Truman did a good job, and that is just not on, says John Taber.  Also, controls are gone and everything is coming up rosy, and Fortune wants you to know that it's not just Charlie Wilson who has a bunch of stocks in companies that might be affected by his decisions. So did President Roosevelt! 

Charles J. V. Murphy, "The Pentagon and the Korean Shell Shortage" As we've already heard, the Pentagon doesn't think that there's a shell shortage, but General Van Fleet does. The Eighth Army has been firing off ammunition at a rate to put WWII into shade, and the shortage is only in relation to the fantastic demand, which has seen the Army fire off 50 million rounds of gun and mortar ammunition, or 1.25 million tons. The static war at the front has led both sides to fire off everything they have, and in one sense Eighth Army is just replying to the Reds, albeit at a rate of 5 replies for every round they fire. The Army frankly admits that it was not prepared for an artillery war on this scale. The Government spent $3.5 billion on ammunition plants in WWII, and $13 billion was spent on ammunition during that war. The Army ended up storing away $7.5 billion of it, which seemed more than enough to tide it over until the peak of planned production for the Korean war, which is still some months away. There are also special circumstances in this shortage. The static situation has led to medium and heavy artillery firing more rounds than during the more mobile fighting of WWII, and that is where the shortage is being felt most seriously.

Munitions Plant 15, St. Louis, today
As for the industry, at the end of the war there were sixty plants specialising in making shells, propellants, and high explosives for bursters, plus associated assembly plants. Thirty of these were released by the Army to its standby industrial reserve, and the Army was authorised to buy 25,000 machine tools from the supply of machine tools after industry took its share. Putting the mothballed plants back into production led to the usual problems with accumulated neglect (rust!), and only two shell plants had been preserved in the first place. The shell programme as a whole is six to eight months behind schedule, although the Chevrolet-managed plant in St. Louis was back up to speed producing 105mm ammunition within a year of the outbreak of war. And if you're wondering where Fortune is getting its facts and figures from, there is a whole paragraph about the wonderful troubleshooting job done by Hugh Dean

"How to Recognise a Recession" Fortune explains that even if there is an Eisenhower Recession, it won't necessarily be bad. Most people don't recognise most recessions, or "readjustments," because they typically only hit a few industries. Bad recessions, like the ones of 1921 and 1937, and perhaps 1949, simply affect enough areas of the economy that they are sensible to all of us. To prove the point, a chart is included showing that there have been scads of recessions that no-one even noticed.

Follows some bumpf about how "Free Trade is Inevitable" and how Bethlehem Steel is going to deal with U.S. Steel setting up shop in its back yard. 

Did you know that Lackawanna, as in Bethelehem Steel's Buffalo plant, is a Delaware Indian word meaning "sandy stream"? When I looked it up, I was sure that it was going to turn out to be an Iroquois word, but it was transferred from Bethlehem's old plant in eastern Pennsylvania. 

And in the "Better Living Through Chemistry" department, Fortune celebrates DDT's victory over malaria in Sardinia. 
Too gorgeous not to share



An article on American drinking shows that Americans drink less than they used to, and more of what they drink these days is beer, and less of it hard liquor. It still adds up to about 5% of national expenditure, and is much more comparable to "civilised" French drinking than some will allow. 

"The Year of the Transistor" The electronics industry has been working to develop the transistor into the replacement for the vacuum tube for five years, and the battle is over. The vacuum tube will be in retreat from now on. Transistors will probably be a more important invention than reaction motors, synthetic fibres "or even, perhaps, atomic energy." Why? Because they are smaller, simpler, are more reliable, and use less power. Up until recently the transistor has been developed solely as an amplifier with Western Electric producing 50,000 last year. This year, it will begin to develop five different transistor designs for various uses at five plants in order to meet a $13 million contract from the Signal Corps. Raytheon and GE also now produce transistors. Bell introduced the point-contact transistor five years ago, but the junction transistor is the latest thing. Twenty-five US and 10 Nato plants have taken licenses from Bell. The only commercial product using transistors right now is a tubeless hearing aid. In the future, transistors may be used for computer memory, leading to "computers in shoeboxes," lighter, transistorised telephones, even transistorised dimmer switches in car headlights. (The Signal Corps is working on a shoe-boxed sized computer aid the army in Korea to triangulate on Red artillery.)  "Telesynd" will allow much more information to be transmitted securely across telephone lines. Fortune goes on to explain that the reason that Bell is the transistor company is that while many electrical manufacturers were producing germanium rectifiers and diodes from the Twenties on, it took physicist William Shockley, applying the new theories of quantum mechanics, to see how a germanium diode could be made into an amplifying triode. He worked for Western Electric, and the rest is history. 

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