26 DECEMBER 1931, Page 28


For the great majority of the investing public, 1931 has been an unfavourable, if not a disastrous year, prices of practically all securities having been seriously weakened by world trade depression, a series of financial crises, and the repercussions of these factors on the internal affairs of this country. In a short review it is impossible to cover all markets, and it is, therefore, necessary to select British Government stocks, to provide an example of the trend of fixed-interest securities as a whole, and industrial ordinary shares, as illustrating the general tendencies of variable dividend investments. It is true that very. substantial movements have taken place in other, sections of the Stock Exchange, such as (Continued on page vi.) Finance—Public and Private (Continued from page 894.) the heavy declines in British and Argentine railways and the advance in gold mining shares ; but these move- ments are to some extent the result of influences peculiar to these particular markets. For purposes of review, the past twelve months may be conveniently divided into four sections of varying length. separated by events of outstanding importance. The first and longest of these periods extended from the beginning of the year until June 20th, when the Hoover War Debt Moratorium proposals were issued in the United States. During this time Gilt-edged stocks were rising on balance, under the influence of continued trade depression, which led to the investment in high-class securities of funds not required in industry and com- merce. An additional factor making for higher prices was doubtless the preparation, which Lord Snowden has since admitted, for a conversion scheme for dealing with the 5 per cent. War Loan. Trade depression, while it made for higher prices for investment securities, naturally had the reverse effect on industrial shares, which declined almost continuously. Towards the end of the period, moreover, all markets were adversely affected by growing apprehension of -financial difficulties on the Continent, and in Germany particularly.