Saturday 1st July 1933
Albert Russel Erskine (62), Studebaker’s President from 1915 until it the firm encountered severe financial problems in 1933 committed suicide by shooting himself. His downfall lay in his failure to cut production and costs quickly in response to the slump of 1929 and 1930, which led to an insurmountable cashflow crisis. In 1930, he had declared a dividend of $7,800,000 which was five times the actual net profits of that year. In 1931, he paid a dividend of $3,500,000—also out of capital—a ruinous procedure which he unsuccessfully sought to correct through a merger with White Motor Company. Working capital had fallen from $26 million in 1926 to $3.5 million in 1932 and the banks were owed $6 million, for which they demanded payment. Studebaker defaulted and went into receivership.