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June 3, 1899.
Record and Guide
Tfkifriis ID f^ Esrnjc.BuLDgfo A^nzcmJitEXouaEHeut QeootpoH
Btrsoltet Alb iHEKBS or CeHb^ IH1PF»%
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Fubliihed every Saturday.
Tblbphomb, Cobtlamdt 1370.
Communications should be addreESGd to
C. W. SWEET, 14-lG Vesey Street.
J. 1. LfS'D&EY, Business Manager.
•• Entered at the Post-O^ice al New York.N. Y., as seermd-elasg matter."
JUNE 3. 180D.
\ T OTHING is more likely tO' bring liome to the speculative
I'V world the fact that everything is not now running so
entirely in favor of the Uuited States as was the case last year
than the considerable export of gold that goes out this week.
There is nothing alarming in the fact that a few millions of gold
must be shipped to meet our debts abroad, but it will surprise
the many who could aot believe that the remarkably favorable
business circumstances of the last year or two were not to be¬
come permanent. Gold exports in the present liquidating con¬
dition of the stocli market will be a good card for bear operators
to work on, and the process of getting prices down will be
hastened by that fact. Here and there and now and then th©
market offers some opposition to the decline, but the force of
necessary liquidation is generally too much for it, and the
strength is oniy temporary. The best hope for a substantial
rally is found in the fact that the bear sentiment has become
quite extended and the borrowing of stocks noticeably large.
It is well to remember when regarding the weakness of stock
market quotations that that is a thing apart from the general
situation, and is due entirely to over-confidence in the late specu¬
lative movement on the long side. It is not brought about by
unfavorable outside conditions; it is a local trouble for which the
application of remedies locally is all that is necessary to effect
a cure. The financial and commercial situation is sound. Busi¬
ness is good in all lines; iron especially calls for attention in
that regard. While results in metal industrials have not recently
been at all satisfactory, it is at the same time certain that it is in
that direction tbat the big money will be made during the present
period of business revival. This is a text from which we have
preached for some time, and now find that the movement is at¬
tracting attention elsewhere, so that the public vision will soon
be brought into line with the surprising results that have already
come to view, and speculation will be guided accordingly.
THERE is a certainty that the European money market will
soon feel the effects of Governmental borrowings. A Japan¬
ese 4% loan of il0,O0O,O00 is about to be issued in London, where
also there is a Mexican loan conversion on the carpet aad talk
of a new Russian loan. The last is uot received with much
favor, because it is felt that the Russian Government has re¬
course to London ouly because it has exhausted its credit for the
tiine being in Berlin and Paris, and because of the unsatisfaetory
economic condition, of "the Russian people. As. bearing on the
latter, some figures reported to his Government by the British
Consul-General at St. Petersburg are interesting. These show
that in European Russia, as a result of bad crops and high tax¬
ation, the number of horses per 1,000 of population decreased
from 1861 to 189S from 260 to 182, the number of cattle from
357 to 259, of sheep from 733 to 405, and of swine from 157 to 97.
Considering that, in spite of attempts to foster manufactures
by tariffs, Russia is still an agricultural country, these figures
point to an alarming retrogression in the material condition of
the people. British bank reports for the last year corroborate
fully the accounts of the prosperous condition of business in
the communities they serve. Deposits and assets both increased
substantialiJ', and the average premium on the shares in the
market has advanced in the past year from 227% to 244%. There
have also been satisfactory advances in the prices of colonial
banking shares quoted on the London Exchange, From Buenos
Ayres comes the story that not only is the famous project for
another special issue of inconvertible currency, to be exchanged
at 2% dollars for one of gold, to be revived in the coming session
of the Argentine Congress, but there is also a packed majority
formed to make it law; and, worse still, that the executive Js
secretly favoring it while outwardly affecting to oppose it. From
the same quarter it is also reported that the Government con¬
templates the imposition of a per capita tax on tbe sheep and
horned cattle in the country, French cotton spinners and
weavers continue their agitation to prevent the Government
from making any concessions on imports of foreign manufac¬
tured cotton into Madagascar. Industrial issues still make the
activity of the Berlin bourse. It is announced that a German
commission will go to Asia Minor, Armenia and Mesopotamia
soon in order to make investigations into economic conditions,
with special reference to the continuation of the Anatolian
Kaiiway to the East. The industrial consolidation movement
is also finding expression in Austria under a moderate revival
of public Interest In business. It is announced from Vienna
tbat the fact that several banks have shown a ^iractical interest
in industrial undertakings has given much satisfaction, and the
freditanstalt has lately succeeded in reuniting all the Austrian
fez manufacturles in one great establishment, and it has now
undertaken a similar transaction for the paper manufactories
cf Austria. It is about to turn one of the first machine manu¬
factories into a joint stock company, and it is negotiating for
the acquisition of a new invention of a cheap and quick system
of making cards for pattern weaving which is believed to be of
the utmost importance to the textile industry.
MAZET AND R£AL ESTATE ASSESSMENTS.
HE information elicite* by the Mazei Committee concern¬
ing real estate assessments was not, of course, very novel
to our readers. Everybody who has thought at all about the
subject has concluded that the existing system of taxing real
estate is crude and unscientific. Under it, the tax list is no doubt
a hodge-podge of inequalities. This is no fault of the Depart¬
ment or' of the assessors. It is inherent to any system of taxa¬
tion based upon "value."
How is "value" to be determined? There are nearly as many
methods of attempting a computation as there are pieces of prop¬
erty, but in the end all result in more or less of guess-work.
Everybody knows how I'are it Is that even the most expert ap¬
praisers agree. At times the difference between their estimates
is little short of ludicrous. Ask the average real estate man what
makes the value of a piece of real estate; ask him why, for in¬
stance, a square foot of land on the corner of Broad and Wall
streets is worth more than a similar square foot on the corner of
Liberty and Nassau streets, and how the precise so many dollars
of difference is to be accounted for mathematically, and you will
then see in what a foggy atmosphere the conception of real
estate values exists.
The only way to determine what is the market value of a piece
of real estate is to sell it, and then, even the moment the ham¬
mer has fallen, there will be good judges who will declare tbat
the price given does not represent the value of the property.
The parcel is worth more or less as the case may be.
Mr, Moss should keep in mind that if the taslt of assessing
real estate for the purpose of taxation were committed to the
most experienced and honorable of our real estate experts, and
they were given unlimited time to consider all the circumstances
and conditions cf each piece of property in the city, the list when
completed would still be full of contradictions and inequalities,
and lie could put each and all of the experts on the stand and
ask them annoying questions.
The systeam we are working under is essentially an imperfect
one. It is worse; it is bad. We would like to see a commission
appointed to carefully consider the subject and amend our ways.
Taxation should be based upon something that is definite and
determinable. The value of real estate Is not definite, and it is
not determinable except by subjecting the actual property to the
test of the market, which in itself is an uncertain quantity,
varying from day to day. It has been proposed that taxes should
be based upon rents. Such a system would have some weak
points, but it would not be a system of guess-work, and when
the Mazet Committee report to the Legislature at Albany it Is
this guess-work they should strike at.
LL attempts to give the figures for the tax rate partake
largely of the nature of guesses, Cn the opening of the
tax books last January, the budget requirements having been
previously made known, 2.50 was settled upon as the likely rate,
but, as was pointed out at the time, nothing definite could be
stated until the personal estate valuations were determined.
These have not been officially announced yet. Now it is stated
that the rate for Manhattan will be 2.65, because of additions to
the budget for excess expenditures in 1898. It ought not to
surprise anyone that some additions to the current budget will
be necessary because of the inadequacy of taxes levied in 1897,
because the charter anticipated that and provided for it, as wili
be seen by reference to page 50 of Van Siclen's "Bearing of the
Greater New York Charter on Real Estate Interests," where will
also be found tbe reason why dilferent rates will be levied In