STATE OF BUSINESS: Down the Stretch

Last week U. S. business started down the year's home stretch into its biggest payoff period—Christmas trade. Business' seasonal pattern each year starts with a production upswing in late summer, when consumption is relatively low. Production outstrips consumption through each autumn. Then, after Thanksgiving, the consumption season begins, and business guessmen make book on whether or not autumn's inventories will be used up.

This year some economists say that the record boom in production has put inventories up to an all-time high. Recalling the unhappy aftermath of their last peak —the third...

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