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Statement Announcing a Series of Conferences With Representatives of Business, Industry, Agriculture, and Labor.

November 15, 1929


"I have during the past week engaged in numerous conferences with important business leaders and public officials with a view to the coordination of business and governmental agencies in concerted action for continued business progress.

"I am calling for the middle of next week a small preliminary conference of representatives of industry, agriculture, and labor to meet with the Secretaries of the Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce, and Labor, together with the Chairman of the Federal Farm Board to develop certain definite steps.

"For instance, one of the results of the speculative period through which we have passed in recent months has been the diversion of capital into the security market, with consequent lagging of the construction work in the country. The postponement of construction during the past months, including not only buildings, railways, merchant marine, and public utilities, but also Federal, State, and municipal public works, provides a substantial reserve for prompt expanded action. The situation is further assured by the exceptionally strong cash position of the large manufacturing industries of the country.

"The magnificent working of the Federal Reserve System and the inherently sound condition of the banks have already brought about a decrease in interest rates and an assurance of abundant capital--the first time such a result has been so speedily achieved under similar circumstances.

"In market booms we develop overoptimism with a corresponding reverse into over pessimism. They are equally unjustified but the sad thing is that many unfortunate people are drawn into the vortex of these movements with tragic loss of savings and reserves. Any lack of [p.385] confidence in the economic future or the basic strength of business in the United States is foolish. Our national capacity for hard work and intelligent cooperation is ample guaranty of the future.

"My own experience has been, however, that words are not of any great importance in times of economic disturbance. It is action that counts. The establishment of credit stability and ample capital through the Federal Reserve System and the demonstration of the confidence of the administration by undertaking tax reduction with the cooperation of both political parties, speak more than words.

"The next practical step is the organizing and coordinating of a forward movement of business through the revival of construction activities, the stimulation of exports and of other legitimate business expansion, especially to take such action in concert with the use of our new powers to assist agriculture. Fortunately, the sound sense, the capacity and readiness for cooperation of our business leaders and governmental agencies give assurance of action."

Note: As part of the new series of conferences, the President met on November 19 with a group of railway executives. The White House issued the following statement on the meeting:

A preliminary conference was held at the White House today, November 19, with the railway presidents, mostly of the eastern territory, at which were present:




MR. RICHARD H. AISHTON, president, American Railway Association,

MR. W. W. ATTERBURY, president, Pennsylvania Railroad Company,

MR. J. J. BERNET, president, Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company,

MR. P. E. CROWLEY, president, New York Central Lines,

MR. AGNEW T. DICE, president, Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company,

MR. FAIRFAX HARRISON, president, Southern Railway Company,

MR. L. F. LOREE, president, Delaware and Hudson Railroad Company,

MR. JEREMIAH MILBANK, Southern Railway Company,

MR. J. J. PELLEY, president, New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company,

MR. FRED W. SARGENT, railway representative upon United States Chamber of Commerce; president, Chicago and Northwestern Railway Company

MR. DANIEL WILLARD, president, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company

(Mr. Willard was unable to be present because of an attack of bronchitis), MR. JULIUS BARNES, chairman of the board, United States Chamber of Commerce

MR. HALE HOLDEN, chairman of the executive committee, The Southern Pacific Railroad Company,

MR. WILLIAM BUTTERWORTH, president, United States Chamber of Commerce.

The railway presidents were unanimous in their determination to cooperate in the maintenance of employment and business progress. It was stated that the railways which they represented would proceed with full programs of construction and betterments without any reference to recent stock exchange fluctuations; that they would canvass the situation as to further possibilities of expansion, and that amongst these particular railways it appeared that the total volume of such construction work already indicated an increase during the next 6 months over the similar period of last year.

It was agreed that the whole question should be taken up at the meeting of the railway executives convening in Chicago next Friday, with view to securing cooperation of all railways in the United States in such [a] program. At that time steps will be taken to canvass the railways to determine the exact amount of construction and betterments which can be undertaken over the forthcoming year and during the next 6 months.

The railway executives felt that it was desirable that similar conferences should be called in other industrial groups, and that some method of coordination of their different activities should be developed.

Herbert Hoover, Statement Announcing a Series of Conferences With Representatives of Business, Industry, Agriculture, and Labor. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/208315

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