Herbert Hoover photo

The President's News Conference

November 22, 1929


THE PRESIDENT. I am sorry that I haven't anything of any great consequence at this moment.

Just for your own information, the problem that we have been at work on for the last few days is largely a question of work in each industry. The railway people, as you know, are meeting today in Chicago. The three different groups of public utilities--that is, the electrical power people and the street railway people and the gas people are meeting on Tuesday to see what construction programs they can definitely assure for next year.

Q. Is that in New York ?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it is--yes.

And then other industries will be taken up. We have, as you saw yesterday, in the Chamber of Commerce at least, laid the foundation for a sort of an executive committee amongst the industries to follow up and organize each one of them in turn, and further than that we haven't gotten at the moment.

We probably will hear something from the railway people in the course of today or tomorrow. The construction industries that we are having some discussion with this afternoon are largely on the question of information. They are the people who do the work, but do not produce the construction, so there is nothing of great national importance. It is largely a question of information from our point of view as to what the situation actually is in different segments of the industry. So far as they themselves are concerned, they are merely service organizations, so there will be nothing very startling out of that conference.

Other than that, I haven't anything.

Note: President Hoover's sixty-eighth news conference was held in the White House at 4 p.m. on Friday, November 22, 1929.

On the same day, the White House issued a list of construction industry representatives expected to attend the President's conference.


Also on November 22, an announcement was issued of a message to the President on the Chicago meeting of railway executives, as follows:

The President has received the following message from R. H. Aishton, president of the American Railway Association, meeting in Chicago today:

"The railway executives who were called into conference by you at Washington last Tuesday have, as you requested, communicated to their associate executives at the meeting held today in Chicago, the views you expressed to them in respect to maintaining stability and promoting prosperity in business and I am authorized to give you the assurance of their very sincere and earnest spirit of cooperation in the work you have undertaken. These executives in their associations represent approximately 97 percent of the total operating revenues and approximately 91 percent of the total railway mileage in the United States. They realize the national importance to the social and economic well being of the country of business stability and prosperity and their duty so to discharge their transportation responsibilities as to make their service harmonize with the wisest and most intelligent judgment and plans for the public welfare. The program of capital expenditures already arranged for is impressive, amounting up to October 1st of this year to $1,247,792,000 for Class 1 railways, of which $673,972,000 remained on that date to be expended. This figure of $1,247,792,000 compares with a capital program of $902,307,000 for the same period of 1928, an increase of over 38 percent. The number of freight cars on order on October 1st was 29,481, a greater figure than on the corresponding date in any year since 1924 and this number has been increased as of November 1st to 33,642, which is an increase of 27,561 compared with the same date a year ago. On October 1st there were 354 locomotives on order, as compared with 113 on the same date in 1928 and 134 in 1927. There are also now on order approximately one and one half million tons of steel rails for delivery beginning early in 1930. It is estimated that this will be increased by orders for approximately one million additional tons which would make the rail deliveries in 1930 approximately 2,500,000 tons and substantially in excess of last year. Not believing that there is anything in existing conditions to require it the executives have no purpose whatever to reduce or abandon any part of this program. They are proceeding with confidence in the future business prosperity of the country and in reliance upon the full cooperation of industry in all its branches equally interested under these circumstances. It is their hope and expectation to proceed on at least a normal basis in their future capital and maintenance expenditures. A movement to increase them, however, has been started and is being actively and intelligently pressed forward. In respect to [p.393] your desire to organize a committee of contact for the various industries and with a view of harmonizing and stimulating constructive work, resolutions were adopted at this meeting designating me as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Association of Railway Executives, to act for the railways as a means of keeping them in touch with other industrial groups and with developments as they occur; and I was requested to assure you of the willingness of the Executives to assemble and make serviceable, through competent agencies, current figures with respect to capital expenditures and other available information that may be desired."

This program will assure larger employment in the railway equipment industry next year than in 1929 and a very substantial addition to the railway demands for steel.


On November 25, the President continued his series of conferences by meeting with representatives of national agricultural organizations. The White House issued the following statement by the Secretary of Agriculture:

"The representatives of the four national agricultural organizations canvassed the situation with the President. As representing such organizations they expressed themselves in hearty accord with the President's program for stabilizing the general industrial situation and securing the continuance of prosperity.

"The general opinion expressed was that confidence has been gaining in agriculture and that the morale of agriculture is now better than it has been for years past. Except in short crop areas there has been genuine improvement in agriculture and an increased income and therefore an increased buying power this year.

"The representatives assembled considered that agriculture has suffered and is now suffering to some extent, from high interest rates induced by the absorption of credit for speculative purposes. They felt that a concerted action by the credit agencies of the government is now possible, and that such action would reflect back to agriculture the lower interest rate. It was also the opinion of the conferees that the savings which might thus be made to agriculture by the lower interest rates would immediately be reflected back into the markets through the purchase of necessary equipment and supplies for the farm.

"The conferees also favored an immediate extension of the road program with special emphasis of farm-to-market roads. The opinion also was expressed that agricultural prices which had suffered in sympathetic action in the stock market have now begun to recover, and that the efforts of the Farm Board in stabilizing those prices has been very helpful.

"The representatives of agriculture present also pledged support to cooperate in every possible way in the support of the President's program for stabilizing the industrial situation and mobilizing the economic power of agriculture."


On November 27, the White House issued the following statements in connection with the President's meeting with representatives of the public utility industry:

Mr. Matthew Sloane, president of the National Electric Light Association, made the following combined statement of expenditures on behalf of all the utilities:

"The electric light and power, manufactured and natural gas, and electric railway utilities contemplate the expenditure of $1,400,000,000 during 1930 for new construction and expansion of facilities, an increase over the corresponding expenditures for 1929 of $110,000,000.

"In addition to this amount, they will spend to maintain existing properties $410,000,000.

"The following statement by the National Electric Light Association was also presented by Mr. Sloane:

"The electric light and power utility companies of the country contemplate an expenditure during 1930 of $865,000,000 for expansion of their facilities, an increase of $65,000,000 over corresponding expenditures for 1929. This does not include expenditures for maintenance.

"The programs provide for expansion and development in all sections of the United States.

"The electric utilities must maintain themselves in a position to meet increasing demands for service as they develop, and they, therefore, plan their construction well in advance.

"The plans for 1930 are completed, large commitments have already been entered into, and many contracts for equipment and material have been placed. Careful consideration of existing conditions has justified this expansion in anticipation of the growing requirements of industry for power, and consumers generally for increased electric service."

The following statement by the American Gas Association was presented by B. J. Mullaney, its president:

"The American Gas Association Statistical Department estimates that expenditures for construction by the manufactured and natural gas industry of the United States in 1930 will aggregate approximately $425,000,000, an increase of about 6 percent over the corresponding expenditures in 1929. An additional $50,000,000 will be expended to maintain existing service facilities.

"The construction estimate is based primarily upon budget provisions already formulated for 1930 by companies representing the major part of gas production [p.395] and distribution in the United States. The conclusions thus indicated have been checked against the factual experience of the industry for many years, as well as against current observation and information, and have been correspondingly strengthened.

"Gas industry growth, while unspectacular, has been marked and steady for upwards of twenty years. The latter part of the period has been its time of most rapid gain. Complete statistical reports for nine months, and covering upwards of 85 percent of the output, indicate that the total output for 1929 should be about nine percent ahead of the 1928 total.

"Construction programs have to anticipate this growth, as well as provide for the consequences of new trends and changing conditions, such as more and more large-volume industrial use of gas; accelerated use for additional domestic purposes, including house heating; increased density of population and use where large apartment houses supplant single-family dwellings. Expansion is further stimulated by the growing popular recognition of gaseous fuel advantages and by the research that develops better utilization.

"In the natural gas branch of the industry, the existence of vast known reserves, coupled with large increases in production, is making long distance transmission economically practicable to a degree not anticipated a few years ago. Development along this line will undoubtedly continue for many years.

"These and collateral facts, trends and factors have been coordinated with obvious necessities in estimating the construction requirements of the industry for 1930. The net results, as summed up in the first sentence of this statement, have been reviewed by officers of the larger gas producing and distributing companies, assembled for that purpose at A. G. A. Headquarters in New York yesterday, and have been approved as a reasonable forecast.

"The customer contacts and day-to-day experiences of the companies represented in the conference reflect no disturbing change in business conditions or trends. They suggest no reason at this time for curtailing the contemplated expenditures for the construction and extension of gas service facilities. On the contrary, it is conceivable that cheaper money, as predicted by many forecasters in economics, might accelerate construction especially on the natural gas side of the industry."

The following statement for the Electric Railways of the country was presented by J. N. Shannahan of Omaha, acting for Paul Shoup, who was absent:

"A canvass of the electric railway companies of the United States, comprising street car, rapid transit, interurban and bus lines handling approximately 16 billion passengers annually, indicates that 97% of the executives responding to our inquiry do not anticipate that the present stock market situation will affect their capital and maintenance expenditures during the coming year.

"This survey, made at the suggestion of Paul Shoup, President of the American Electric Railway Association, who is unfortunately unable to attend this conference due to his presence on the Pacific Coast, indicates that this industry which during 1929 is spending approximately $1,000,000 a day for maintenance, betterments and extensions, expects to maintain or exceed this rate of expenditure during 1930.

"At a meeting held at the Association's headquarters in New York on November 26, 1929, representative executives of companies operating in various parts of the country expressed their confidence in the business outlook and their desire to cooperate with President Hoover in every possible way in his effort to stabilize and insure the continued progress and development of business. Analysis of the transportation situation in a number of large cities indicates that as progress is made in bringing about better public understanding of the economic problems involved, improvement in credit will permit considerable increases in capital expenditures to be made for expansion of facilities."

J. N. SHANNAHAN, Omaha & Council Bluffs St., R., Chairman of Advisory Council A.E.R.A.

THOMAS N. MCCARTER, Public Service Corp. of New Jersey, past president A.E.R.A

J. P. BARNES, Louisville Railway Co., past president A.E.R.A

L. S. STORRS, United Railways & Elect. Co., Baltimore, past president A.E.R.A

J. H. HANNA, Capital Traction Co., Washington, D.C. 1st vice president A.E.R.A.

G. A. RICHARDSON, Chicago Surface Lines, 2nd vice-president, A.E.R.A

W. A. DRAPER, Cincinnati Street Railway, 4th vice-president A.E.R.A

Herbert Hoover, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/208542

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