Business: The Cautious Customer

"The sole end and purpose of all production," said Economist Adam Smith, is the consumer. Last week U.S. business, watching the consumer like a hopeful but apprehensive parent, might have varied Adam Smith's dictum to read that the U.S. consumer is the master key to what will happen to production—and how much will be sold—in the months ahead. What business saw was a consumer growing steadily more cautious about his purchases, but still buying at a rate that is helping to steady the economy.

Enthusiastic Reception. Detroit reported that its 1961 model-automobile year got off to an impressive start, with daily new-car...

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