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factured, or, if still manufactured, have ceased to be important factors in the market. On the other hand, a number of articles not shown in that report have become of such importance as to render necessary their inclusion in any study of the course of prices.
Although in the case of commodities of great importance more than one series of quotations have been used, in no case has an article of a particular description been represented by more than one series of quotations from the same market. For this reason the terms “series of quotations” and “commodities” have been used interchangeably in this report.
In the record of prices from 1890 to 1910, 236 series of quotations have been presented for the entire period and an additional 36 for some portion of the period. Of the latter number, 15 articles have been discontinued, as follows: No quotations are shown for imported tin plate since 1898; for Ashton's salt since 1903; for beaver overcoatings since 1905; for sun-dried apples, nutmegs, cotton and wool blankets, split boots, men's 84-needle hose, linen thread, all-wool chinchilla overcoatings, shawls, Atlantic brown sheetings, Hope bleached sheetings, and indigo 16-ounce suitings since 1907; nor for cotton warp chinchilla overcoatings since 1908. The actual prices of the above-named articles are not shown in any table in this presentation, and those wishing to secure them for the years for which quoted may do so by consulting preceding March Bulletins. As may be seen by reference to Table II, 2 articles were quoted for the first time in 1892, 2 in 1893, 1 in 1894, 3 in 1895, 1 in 1896, 1 in 1897, and 11 in 1908.
In all there are 257 series of quotations in the present report.
Material changes in the description of 3 articles were made in 1902, of 2 articles in 1903, of 1 article in 1904, of 5 articles in 1905, of 7 articles in 1906, of 3 articles in 1907, of 19 articles in 1908, of 1 article in 1909, and of 2 articles in 1910. For 7 of these articles the trade journals no longer supply satisfactory quotations, the manufacture of the particular grades of 13 previously quoted has been discontinued by the establishments heretofore furnishing quotations, and for 23 articles the substituted descriptions more nearly represent the present demands of the trade.
In making these substitutions, articles were supplied corresponding as closely as possible to those which were previously used.
The prices quoted in every instance are wholesale prices. Wholesale prices have invariably been used in compilations made for the purpose of showing changes in the general price level of all commodities. They are more sensitive than retail prices and more quickly reflect changes in conditions, and, too, it is much more difficult to follow the changes in the quality of commodities quoted in retail prices than in wholesale prices. Retail prices usually follow the wholesale, but not always in the same proportion. The margin between them in the case of some commodities is so great that slight changes in the wholesale price do not affect the retail price. Changes in the wholesale price, which last for a short time only, do not usually result in corresponding changes in the retail price.
The net cash prices are shown for textiles and all articles whose list prices are subject to large and varying discounts. In the case of a number of articles, such as white pine, nails, etc., however, whose prices are subject to a small discount for cash, no deduction has been made.
The prices have been collected from the best available sourcesstandard trade journals for 131 articles, officials of boards of trade for 9 articles, chambers of commerce for 1 article, produce exchanges for 7 articles, leading manufacturers or their selling agents for 108 articles, and a Government bureau for 1 article.
About one-half of the prices quoted are the prices in the New York market. For grains, live stock, etc., Chicago prices are quoted; for fish, except salmon, Boston prices; for tar, Wilmington (N. C.) prices; for Elgin creamery butter, Elgin (Ill.) prices, etc. The prices for textiles are the prices in the general distributing markets, such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia; and where no market is mentioned in the prefatory note to the article in Table I it should be understood that the prices are for the general market.
The following table shows the different markets represented and the number of articles in each group quoted for each market:
NUMBER OF COMMODITIES OR SERIES OF QUOTATIONS CLASSIFIED BY MARKETS
FOR WHICH SECURED, 1910.
As regards the description of the commodity it should be stated that the greatest care has been taken to secure prices throughout the period from 1890 to 1910 for a commodity of precisely the same description. Changes in quality are, of course, reflected in prices, and for this reason note has been made of any important changes which have occurred. In the case of certain commodities, such as butter, eggs, etc., prices for the best quality have been taken in order to avoid frequent changes in grade. It should also be stated in this connection that in the case of commodities for which prices were secured from the Oil, Paint, and Drug Reporter the lowest quotations were taken where a range of prices was found, because of the fact that in that publication these represent the prices of large lots, while the highest quotations represent the prices of smaller lots.
Weekly quotations have been secured in the case of all articles which are subject to frequent fluctuations in price, such as butter, cheese, eggs, grain, live stock, meats, etc. In the case of articles whose prices are more stable, monthly quotations have been taken. The following table shows the number of series of weekly and monthly price quotations : NUMBER OF COMMODITIES OR SERIES OF QUOTATIONS, CLASSIFIED AS TO THEIR
FREQUENCY OF QUOTATION, 1910.
The character of each series of quotations as regards frequency is shown in all cases in Table I in a prefatory note, which states the date of the quotations and, if weekly, whether the quotations are for some particular day of the week, the average for the week, or the range for the week. The majority of the weekly quotations show the price on Tuesday, and if for any reason Tuesday's price was not obtainable the first price in the week has been taken. The quotations from trade and other journals, when credited to the first of each month, are not in all instances the price for the exact day stated, as it is a common practice of the daily papers which make a specialty of market reports to devote certain days to the review of the market of certain articles. For example, the Boston Herald quotes fish on Saturday only. The prices are, however, the earliest prices quoted in the journal to which the article is credited. It should also be stated that the monthly prices credited to weekly publications are the earliest quotations shown in such publications for each month.
In many localities the price of bread per loaf is not affected by changes in the price of flour, yet the weight of the loaf is changed from time to time. With the advance in the price of flour, the weight of the loaf is decreased in some localities. For this reason the relative prices of bread are computed on the price per pound and not per loaf. Table I shows the price per loaf, the price per pound, and the weight each month from January to December, 1910.
The average price for the year was obtained by dividing the sum of the quotations for a given commodity by the number of quotations shown. For example, the sum of the 52 Tuesday's prices of cotton for 1910 (shown on page 363) was $7.8615. This total divided by 52 gives $0.15118 as the average price for the year. When a range was shown the mean price for each date was found, and this was used in computing the yearly average as above described. The reader will understand that, in order to secure for any commodity a strictly scientific average price for the year, one must know the quantity marketed and the price for which each unit of quantity was sold. It is manifestly impossible to secure such detail, and even if it were possible the labor and cost involved in such a compilation would be prohibitive. It is believed that the method adopted here, which is also that used in the construction of other index numbers, secures results which are quite as valuable for all practical purposes.
The price of 8-penny nails quoted in this report is, by the established nail card of the trade, uniformly 10 cents per 100 pounds higher than the base price, the price given in market quotations. For an explanation of the nail card, the reader is referred to Bulletin No. 39, page 226.
The prices for the two quotations of wool appearing in this report were obtained as for washed wool and then reduced to the scouredwool basis by increasing the price in proportion to the amount of shrinkage.
On preceding pages of this report an opportunity has been afforded to note the extent of the change in wholesale prices between 1909 and 1910 by groups of commodities. The following table shows the per cent of increase or decrease in the average wholesale price in 1910 for each individual article as compared with the price in 1909:
PER CENT OF INCREASE OR DECREASE IN THE AVERAGE WHOLESALE PRICES OF
COMMODITIES IN 1910, COMPARED WITH 1909.
Farm products, 20 articles.