AT THIS time of year many agencies are forecasting the future and it is a heartening thought that most of these forecasts give a promise of better things for 1924.
It is to be remembered, too, that while in some branches of business and finance 1923 stood for anything but happy conditions, that taken by and large, the past year ended with a very satisfactory balance on the right side of the ledger.
Sir John Aird, speaking at the annual meeting of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, in a year that has not been all happiness for financial institutions, pointed out that., whatever conditions had been, there was no doubt of the substantial future prospects. He pointed out that Canada had, last year, reaped the largest crop in its history; that it had become the largest exporter of wheat in the world; and that, despite the low prices of some of her products, many millions dollars had found their way into the pockets of the farmers. He pointed out, too, that in addition to these things Canada had invested several hundred million in her own securities, that she had reduced the deficit on that outstanding Canadian liability, the Canadian National Railways, and that throughout the year there had been comparatively little unemployment.
As a commentary on these statements there are a number of things worthy of consideration. Let us pass from the more or less general remarks quoted above to . the annual statement of western conditions prepared by the Manitoba Free Press. From that statement we learn of the returns for the western grain crop, for her livestock and butter and cheese and eggs, sold outside the bounds of the western provinces. For these commodities there is a grand total of $387,000,000 as against $359,223,273 for the same commodities in the previous year and in this latter total there was an item of $5,000,000 from the Moose Jaw livestock yards, that appears in that year’s figures but was not tabulated in those for last year.
Much Grain Still Held
OF COURSE there is nothing to determine the amount of grain yet in the hands of the farmers, but normally the holding is large, and all this will be added to these figures given above. It is to be remembered, too, that these figures are for exports out of the provinces, and take no cognizance of the enormous volume of business within their own boundaries.
Every day reports are coming in of manufacturing concerns which are adding to the number of their employees. There are, of course, incidental variations from this situation, but in the main these conditions hold. The general consensus of opinion of industrial leaders is that the 1924 business will be at least as great as last year’s business. There is nothing problematical about this judgment. It is based on the sound foundation of orders in hand
In the dry goods and men’s wear trades, business, due to internal conditions and the generally unseasonable weather, has been far from satisfactory. In the hardware trade there have been disturbing conditions, but not so serious as to have had any marked deterrent effect on business, ap.d outside these lines general retail business has been good. In the broader field of raw materials the year that has passed. showed a very marked improve. ment, and gave a very definite promise for the future.
best year since tl~e war, an~d that without any building boom. Indeed the building of the past year only met the actual day to-day requirements of the population and, with this fact in mind, the industry is looking for even better things this year. With the prosperity of this industry will come prosperity to its numerous allied interests.
M INING, too, has stepped out into a new era. Never before have condi tions in this industry been so promising. The activity in all the mining sections during the past year, has been very marked. Not only that, but other de velopments are promised. New strikes have been made in some of the most profitable fields and everything points to the beginning of a progressive era in the mining industry. There are appar ently ample funds to make such a boom nn~qih1n nd i,iqtifinhla
Another interesting factor, interesting especially because of its broad-bearing, h the growing efficiency of raijway labor. During the past year the railways havE handled the largest crop in the history ol the country, and handled it with a lowered overhead for labor. This is entirely duE to the increa~ed efficiency of the workers. and it is a point that strikes very deep It is the efficiency of labor, and not it~ wage, that is theimportant factor. Thai is the factor that affects cost. If thu increased efficiency can be reflected ii any considerable number of other indus tries, then we may look forward to thai happy combination of continued higl wages, with a gradual reduction in com
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