Please note: this text may be incomplete. For more information about this OCR, view About OCR text.
March 4, 1899.
Record and Guide
BusiWess Alb Ihebics of Ge^eii/U, lKTEIt^t«
PRICE PER TEAR IN ADVANCE SIX DOLLARS
Published every Saturday,
TSLBPHOITB, COHTtAjn>T S1370.
ComtnunEcatlona should be addressed to
C. W. SWEET, 14-16 Vesey Street.
J. 1. LIN'DSET, Business Manager.
"Entered at the Post-O^ice at New York, N. T„ aeseeond-€las3matter."
MARCH 4, 1899.
GENERALLY the community has no reason to complain be¬
cause speculation on the Stock Exchange has fallen off,
and that prices have reacted as a consequence. The owners of
burnt fingers naturally do not like the change, but they may take
comfort from the assurance that there are other fingers that have
yet to feel the stings of their burns. The trouble down in Wall
Street has been that it has been taken too much for granted
that the prosperity of the country must work wonderful things
for enterprises that have never yet been favored by beneficent
miracles. Prices have been advanced beyond anything that
could be justified by what could be seen of the merits of the
manipulated securities; and, as a consequence, in the fever nf
speculation, figures have been touched that in sober intervals
would only have been reached by proof of investment worth.
Not only this, but considerations aroused by the closing of the
session of Congress with certain things undone, helps the re¬
action in quotations. This session has been remarkable, from
the Wall Street view, in that its doings have rather helped than
prevented the advance in prices. Ordinarily it is safe to say
that the assembling and deliberations of Congress correspond
in point of time to lower prices on the Stock Exchange. This
time this was not the case. But the appropriations are very lars;e
and sufficient income to meet them has not been provided; also
nothing has been done to remove the disabilities put upon
the Treasury by the condition of the currency. Just now these
things have weight, and will undoubtedly exert their proper in¬
fluence on improperly distended quotations. Money, too, is likely
to be dearer for the next two or three months than it has been
this winter. While presenting these facts, it must not be under¬
stood that we think they call for any alarm. So far as specula¬
tion has been overdone, there must come a readjustment to a
proper economic basis, but the condition of business generally
and the volume of available capital assure the position of sound
securities, and, indeed, make a violent movement In any direction
MONET in the European markets is already showing a ten¬
dency to harden in anticipation of the spring demand,
and the security markets generally are dull as a consequence of
the uncertainties surrounding loanable funds. A summary of tho
results of operating the English railways in the last half year
shows that although the activity in the leading industries largely
increased the volume of traffic, the extra cost of operating more
than absorbed the gain in revenue, leaving the balance available
for dividends on ordinary or common stock less than it was in
the corresponding half of 1S97. A rough estimate of the cost
of Spain's colonial wars places it at between $550,000,000 and
$600,000,000, which must be added to the national debt, together
with some $200,000,000 of colonial debt for which the mother
country is responsible. These will make the national debt some¬
thing in the neighborhood of $2,000,000,000. The ministry that
assumes control, when the differences with the United States are
finally arranged, will have to adjust this burden of debt in ac¬
cordance with the altered circumstances of the nation. So far
as can he judged by the outward view, the accession of M. Loubet
to the Presidency of the Republic of France has had a beneficial
effect, not merely in quieting the unruly, but alao on the business
situation. The political agitations of the past year had appar¬
ently only sentimental effects, and did not justify the alarmist
■conclusion that they imperilled the State. The report of the
Bank of France for 189S displays a gain of over a billion and
a quarter of francs in productive operations, and the dividend
declared was 114f., 58c., on each share of l,000f., or equal to 11.4-jS
per eent. The Franco-Italian treaty of commerce is now in
operation, and it is hoped the trade of the two countries will re¬
cover from the injury it suffered in a tariff war of eleven years'
duration. Germany must be modern only in spots Judging by
the repojts.of a discussion that tpok.place_ in the Prussian Diet,
when the purely mediaevaj proposition was advanced, "by no le?s
a personage than the Minister of Agriculture, that tbe right of the
young agricultural laborer to go to and fro as he pleased should
be limited by law. In support of this it was claimed by the same
functionary that the laborer must be bound to the paternal viU¬
age "In order to save him for work on the farm, and that tho
schoolmasters were teaching the children worthless stuff; they
should rather be taught that God made them for the labor field.
It is exceedingly improbable that the Diet will consent to impose
this servitude upon any part of the laboring population, but the
matter for surprise is that it should be even hinted atin a sup¬
posedly free country by a responsible ministry and among a
people who credit themselves with being the most intellectual
on the globe. The industrial movement has had its usual conse¬
quences in Germany; the native labor has gone into the work¬
shops and factories, and foreigners have come in to take the
poorer paid kinds of work. This change gives great offence to
the Junker class. Statistics of Austria-Hungary's foreign trade
give more anxiety to local economisits than do the figures of
German and American competition to those in Great Britain.
Since 1893 the exports of the dual Empire have increased only
by about $1,800,000, while imports increased by 596,000,000. It ia
claimed that the country, with its enormous debt and defective
organizations, needs before all things a good commercial bal¬
ance; that it needs foreign capital more than any other country
in Europe; aud, that the depression in its industry, the stagna¬
tion in its commerce, cannot be relieved unless its exports exceed
its imports very considerably. It needs also, it may be re¬
marked, domestic peace and a rational fiscal union to encourage
foreign capital to cross its boundaries.
THE OUTSIDER AND THE MARKET.
TTAS the tid« turned in real estate?
■^ -A- If we seek an answer to this question in professional cir¬
cles we shall probably be tendered a very qualified statement.
We will be told that conditions have undoubtedly improved—
somewhat—but that there are no certain signs yet of vigorous
activity. The outlook is brighter, all will admit, but the situa¬
tion is too much a matter of "outlook" to provoke great
Having received an answer of this sort, the conservative in¬
vestor is likely to return to his waiting policy, wondering, per¬
haps a little, as he keeps his weather-eye open, why it is that
real estate lags so much behind other commodities in receiving
stimulus from the undoubted prosperity which is now spreading
over the entire country. It isn't in New York only. North,
Scuth, East and West, in whatever direction we look,.the re¬
port from real estate is uniformly the same—Quiet but improving.
In a way, no doubt, all this is true. The professional talks
"from the book," from the obvious facts. But It Is just at
moments like this that the professional element is not necessarily
the best guide. This is in no sense a disparagement of either
judgment or perspicacity. The professional class speak from the
visible facts. They are in the position of the man who couid not
see the woods because of the trees. They are in the midst of the
present situation, which means at this particular moment a
great deal of the residue and fag ends of dull times—the com¬
plaints, impossibilities and failures of the last tedious four or
flve years. They have become so used to descending and disap¬
pointing calculations that they have naturally acquired a conser¬
vative, halting and doubtful tendency.
In this perhaps we touch the reason why the strictly profes¬
sional element is rarely the leader and advance guard of great
speculative movements anywhere, in any commodity. Much
more frequently it is the "outsider" who inaugurates them.
He comes ready to apply, a little blindly, a new set of calcula¬
tions, a new basis of computation to the old facts. The recent
advance in Wall Street affords an illustration of what we are
speaking about. The Outsider is the fellow who has shown the
confidence there. Perhaps too much of it.
In our judgment we are now on the verge of a big upward turn
in real estate. The advance will not, in the beginning, be the
work of the professional. It will be the work of the "Outsider,"
of the men who bring into real estate the new set of calculatloni;
which are the basis of every advance in prices. The present
situation will be entirely revised. Conditions warrant it. New
levels of value, and new standards of profits will be established.
Indeed, a somewhat similar process to that which has been at
work in Wall Street (and based upon somewhat similar facts)
will operate upon real estate. Affected in this way, even prices
that are now regarded as high will be advanced, and property
that to-day is practically without a market will be in active de¬
mand. Everything indicates that in the next few years a great
deal of money will be made in real estate. There are many
reasons for it, but one Is enough—the vast industrial develop¬
ment of this country, the new commercial era which is only
just openjing, will be registered strongly in metropofltan realty.
The "Outsider" is already beginniug to move towards the profits