Capital Comment

Washington.

The German market has been practically closed to American goods in spite of the fact that the Hitler government is in desperate need of products produced in the United States. What little trading there is, is being done either on a barter basis, or against un-transferable paper marks.

The United States Department of Commerce reports that American business interests which have been making sales against un-transferable German paper marks, no longer care to continue this type of transaction. They are in the main not willing to build up mark balances in Germany. Since there is practically no possibility at present of an American firm selling goods to Germany to be paid in dollars, trade with that country may be expected to reach a vanishing point if present German governmental policies continue.

In reviewing the American-German trade situation, the Department of Commerce calls attention to the fact that “it should be borne in mind that Germany is now short of foreign goods, that a tremendous demand here exists for all American products, that any American company willing to sell against marks can pick and choose its customers and does not have to deal with any firm which is a poor credit risk.” But, the big question in the minds of those who sell is: Who will pay and how will payments be made to do the seller any good?

Commercial Attache A. Douglas Miller, who is stationed in Berlin, has informed Washington that the German government is keeping a watchful eye on the flow of money out of the country. He says that “a new strong warning” has been issued to importers to abstain from the importation of merchandise for which no foreign exchange certificate has been obtained. The German government has ordered “a careful investigation” of importers who have made imports without foreign exchange certificates, to determine whether payments for such shipments have not been made by illegal devices.

The New Deal’s “statistical wizard,” Dr. Isador Lubin, commissioner of labor statistics, has put across a plan which will provide from one to four months’ work to more than 100,000 persons now on relief rolls and which will cost the government about $13,000,000. Dr. Lubin wants additional statistics on unemployment.

In his own words, here is what he is after: “It is almost impossible to plan for the future without knowing the status of the present. We need reliable information about the trades, the professions and aptitudes of the unemployed. We need to know how long the unemployed person has been out of work, how long he held his last job, and his present age in order to determine how many can hope for employment under more favorable business conditions. It is also important that we know how many young men and women, now ready for work, have never held jobs at all nor been prepared for any occupation.”

Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr. holds a unique distinction in that he is the first of treasury secretaries to make use of radio in reporting to the people of the nation the status of the country’s finances. Those who have heard Secretary Morgenthau talk over the air say that he has a good radio voice, although his talk about billions and millions is meaningless to most folks.

In his last radio talk on the country’s finances, Secretary Morgenthau closed his remarks with a few sentences which have set some people to thinking. He said, “The New Deal expenditures are represented by money still right here at home. Some of it has been used to thaw out the frozen assets of banks for the benefit of depositors. Some of it is turning the wheels of industry. The greatest part of that portion which we shall not recover, in a material way, has been used to save human life and to preserve the morale of our people.”

Every once in a while, Representative William I. Sirovich of New York likes to strike a philosophical note in an address on the floor of the House. The other day he delivered an address on social security legislation which lasted an hour. It was the opening paragraph of his address which the boys on Capitol Hill say was responsible for their attentiveness.

Here is how the New Yorker’s opening remarks went: “Life is a journey upon the road to death. Some of us quickly end our pilgrimage at the station marked ‘infancy.’ Shortly thereafter others complete their mission upon the course named ‘childhood.’ Many fall by the wayside on the grave marked ‘adolescence.’ Countless numbers falter on the highway called ‘young age.’ Innumerable throngs collapse upon the main road marked ‘middle age’ Eventually all the rest who have escaped the perils along this mysterious road conclude their journey to eternity when they pass from the station ‘old age,’ through the gates of death, to that bourne from which no traveler ever returns.”

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