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The Record and Guide.
THE RECORD AND GUIDE,
Published every Saturday.
IQl Broad^wav, IST. "ST.
Onr Telepbone Call Is .... . JOHN 370.
ONE YEAR, in advance, SII DOLLARS.
Communications should be addressed to
C. W. SWEET, 191 Broadway.
J, T. LINDSEY, Busmess Manager.
Vol. XXXVII. JANUARY 30, 1886.
The busiaess situation has improved very decidedly during the
past week. This is shown by several circumstances, but more par¬
ticularly by the improved tone of the stock market. Investors see
that the railroads are determined upon peace, the maintenence of
rates, and the securing of "a fair profit upon railway securities. The
cut in passenger rates by the Baltimore & Ohio Company has
turned out to have had no important consequences. It follows
that the $6,000,000,000 (face value $8,000,000,000) of railway securi¬
ties are not going to be of any^ess value because of disagreement
between the great trunk lines. This in itself is sufficient to give sta¬
bility to the great material interests of the country. The labor
troubles are all of a kind which shows improving business and the
more profitable employment of capital. The real estate interest,
also, has nothing to complain of, for the building movement shows
no signs of abatement in any of the larger cities of the country.
Unless some unexpected catastrophe occurs, the coming spring busi¬
ness will be reasonably satisfactory to all interested.
Mr. John H. Sherwood gives his reasons, in a communication
published elsewhere, why a horse-car road should be built on Fifth
avenue. This is a surprising position for a large Fifth avenue
property holder to assume, but our correspondent gives some
weighty arguments to sustain the ground he takes. He wants the
property holders themselves to secure the franchise, and run a line
of cars more luxurious than any which now traverses the streets
of New York. Mr. Sherwood thinks the Broadway owners of
realty stood in their own light in not favoring a horse-car line
twenty years ago. They might have secured the franchise for little
or nothing and saved the city the painful scandals connected with
the construction of Jake Sharp's road. So far as the Broadway
road is concerned we agree with Mr. Sherwood, but doubt very
much whether the Fifth avenue property holders or our citizens
generaUy will reconcile themselves to horse-car tracks on that fash¬
ionable thoroughfare. It does seem as if one avenue should be
sacred from travel of this kind. The omnibuses which have
recently appeared on Fifth avenue are uncouth, lumbering affairs,
and are more objectionable than would be the luxurious cars sug¬
gested by our correspondent. We agree, however, to the proposi¬
tion that if eventually there must be horse-cars on Fifth avenue
they should be owned by and be under the control of its property
holders rather than by speculators, who would have no interest in
that thoroughfare except to make money out of what may become
a public nuisance in time.
Peter B. Sweeney has come to the front as an authority upon
the status of our municipal sinking fund. He holds that as the debt
is paid the bondjit represents should be regarded as non-existant. In
view of his past record, Mr. Sweeney's opinion on that or any other
subject does not carry much weight with the public; but, never¬
theless, the view he takes is that always presented by this journal.
It has always seemed to us absurd that an obligation which has
been discharged in full should be still held as a part of the perma¬
nent debt of the city. Mayor Grace, the Corporation Council,
Judge Daly, Governor Hill and the lawyers have all muddled this
very plain'matter. Our real debt is $92,000,000, but by counting
the paid-up bonds it is made to be $34,000,000 more.
But why take this roundabout method of making these improve¬
ments, when, by regarding the paid-up bonds as dead, new obliga¬
tions can be issued for needed improvements; the face value of
which can be kept within the constitutional limit of ten per cent,
of the assessed valuation of city realty.
We must not allow ourselves to estimate at more than its value
the action of the New Jersey Legislature in reference to bridges
across Staten Island Sound. On account of the fact that certain
legislative privileges touching navigation have been conceded by
Congress to the States, there has grown up an impression that there
is a sort of concurrent jurisdiction between the Federal government
and the State legislatures. But nothing can be further from the
truth. Since the adoption of the Federal constitution with its clause
giving to Congress power to regulate commerce between States,
and between the United States and foreign countries, the decisions of
the United States Supreme Court on this subject are most uniform.
They deny to the States any jurisdiction over questions of navi¬
gation except such as may be exercised while the power of Congress
lies dormant. The moment Congress acts, any State law affecting
navigable streams becomes null and void. Were the State of New
Jersey to oppose the building of a railroad bridge across Staten
Island Sound because it would kill the fish it might have a cause;
but the moment it bases its opposition on a desire to protect navi¬
gation it is seeking to encroach on powers especially delegated
to the Federal government. General railroad laws and Congres¬
sional consent will bridge any navigable channel in the Union.
There are serious practical embarrassments in so regarding the
city debt. We need new school houses and docks, while many
streets require opening for immediate improvement. The wants of
the city also call for a great municipal building, a portion of which
should be fire-proof to hold the City Eecords, now in danger of
being destroyed by fire. Then there is always a Uability that the
paid-up bonds may be reissued, as were the paid coupons by
Carroll in the Comptroller's Department vsome years back. To make
confusion worse confounded. Governor Hill proposes, with the
consent of some city officers, that the surplus bonds in the sinking
fund in excess of our actual debt should be reissued, so as to build
docks, school houses, and give us the new municipal building
—which everyone concedes should be commenced right away.
The Monetary Policy of Germany.
William Henry Hurlbert keeps writing letters and telegraphing
to the New York Stin from London, to the effect that Germany is
on the point of remonetizing silver. This we do not believe, though
we would like to do so. Undoubtedly the adoption of the gold
standard was the cause of innumerable woes for the German people.
It created a panic in prices, added to the burdens of debtors,
impoverished the farming community, and crippled the finances of
the empire. Prince Bismarck admitted to Congressman William D.
KeUey that he made a mistake. He blamed the doctrinaires, and
the professors of political economy in the universities, for putting
him on the wrong track. This conversation, however, took place
flve years ago; but up to this time there is no evidence that Ger¬
many wUl go back to the double standard for measuring values.
Nor is the reason for this determination difficult to account for.
Germany is a creditor nation. Its national and municipal debts are
very light, while its people are frugal, hard working, and their
pecuniary obligations are not heavy. The increased value of the
gold unit enables the Germans to get all they purchase at the
lowest rates, while they can manufacture much more cheaply than
their continental rivals—France, Belguim, Holland and Austria—
which use silver and paper. It is true the gold unit has been a
terrible curse to the agricultural community; but the dream of
Bismarck is to convert Fatherland into a great manufacturing
community; hence low wages and low prices have stimulated the
production of aU manner of manufactured goods. Germany to-day,
for the first time, is a competitor with England. She is sending her
goods to all parts of the earth. France in the race is handicapped
by her enormous national debt and the extent of her municipgx
obligations. German cities are all growing, while the French
centres of population are under a clond. The lower prices do not
cause much suffering in Germany, for government there is a
gigantic employer. Every city in the empire is the scene of great
building operations, undertaken by the central government or by
the municipalities, under the inspiration of the imperial adminis¬
tration at Berlin.
Apropos of the Siin and the silver question, what a curious
blunder that paper makes in assuming that the unequal production
of gold and silver necessarily makes a change in the values of the
money coined from these precious metals. By consulting any
standard work on the subject the Sun will find that for the seventy-
five years previous to 1871 there was no change in the relative
value of the gold and silver coin of continental Europe. Yet, early
in the centHry the production of silver was largely in excess of
gold, while for the ten years succeeding 1849 the gold production
was vastly greater than the silver. Of course it seems that silver
coins ought to be cheaper when there is an excess of sUver, and vice
versa; but then the slightest study of the facts of the monetary
history of the world shows that this is a mistake. The sun seems
to rise in the East, but it doesn't. The government stamp has not
the extraordinary value which the fiat money people attribute to
it, but it has a great effect in equalizing values nevertheless. The
Sun is also mistaken in supposing that if we got on a silver basis
there would be a rise in prices. The demonetizing of over $600,-
000,000 of gold would cause a fearful contraction in values. The
commerce of the country could not go on with a basis of less than
$300,000,010 sUver coins, which is aU we have counting the doUars
and the subsidiary coinage. Exclusively sUver communities, such ^