The Economy: Restraint in TheStockroom


In times of economic vigor, companies tend to increase their inventories, expecting even greater sales ahead and hoping to avoid possible increases in the cost of materials. The U.S. economy is certainly healthy¬óbut the supplies on the nation's shelves have not been building up in their usual relation to sales. In fact, the Commerce Department announced last week, business inventories in January actually declined by $160 million (to $103 billion), the first monthly drop since early 1961. What is going on?

The answer lies chiefly in the improved skill of U.S. businessmen. Since financing a stockpile can cost a firm...

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