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January 5, 190T.
RECORD AND GUIDE.
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JANUARY 5, 1901.
OUR foreign financial relations were .the means of starting
a reaction in the stock market tliait was really overdue.
Prices were unable to stand under the shower of selling orders
that 'Came from abroad on Thursday. The violent rise in St, PauF
shares, the optimism of the public and the tremendous amount
of money available for stock market operations caused a recovery
yesterday that makes it seem as if a new bull movement has
been opened, in spite of the previous great advance. The advance
in the Bank of England's discount rate is more than likely to be
followed by similar movements in other financial centres and
cause them to have further recourse to this market for available
funds. Under the circumstances an export movement of gold
from this side at an early day is quite probable. The response
to the action of ;the Bank of England was a prompt advance of
exchange, so that it now stands near the shipping point, con¬
sidering how this movement has for some years past disregarded
final fractions that make actual equivalents. General business is
good, the season 'considered, and it is a pity that, the boom in
the stock market is not over, so that our people could return to
their .more legitimate concerns. Speculation -carried to the
lengths we have seen and evidently 'going etill farther cannot
but be injurious in the end.
EUROPE 'is finding, not that it is new in her experience, that
a bill often renewed will finally be presented for payment
at the most inconvenient time. The most energetic measures
have been taken lor months to prevent a crisis, but it has come
at last, with the Berlin and London failures and the jump in the
Bank of England discount rates from 4 to 5 per cent, as only the
preliminary signs. Paris has yet to disicoun.t the closing of the
Exposition, but that will come before long. Such a huge na¬
tional festival is sure to be followed by parsimony and retrench¬
ment, which icannot fail to be felt in general trade. Not a week
now passes but what we hear of declining prices in the coal and
iron and steel trades, and this week is no exception to the rule,
Birmingham has followed Glasgow in cutting quotations and
shutting down furnaces. (Neither the political 'conditions in
China or the military position in South Africa is encouraging,
a fact that comes with aggravated force on a disturbed money
market. That there is justification for gloomy news of the out¬
look is confirmed almost as much by the state of the London &
Globe Finance Corporation as it was announced by the failures
of the German mortgage banks, though there is not the presence
pf what are called questionable practices in the former as in the
latter. The integrity of the managers of the London & Globe
Finance Corporation is not impugned, ho'wever much their judg¬
ment may be criticised. This organization shows to what length
corporate business is carried on In London, and suggests the
query whether there are more of the same Mnd, and if so, what
dpes that fact portend? The corporation was formed to "finance"
new enterprises and entered extensively inito the field of mining.
It made large profits while business or speculation was good, but
met changed fortunes with a change in the times, although it
attempted to improve its position by varying its ventures by tak¬
ing up one of the many schemes for building underground rail¬
roads in London. From the report of the annual meeting, which
is just at hand, we learn that this corporation had mining proper¬
ties carried in the balance sheet ait £2,332,632 and £750,000 tied
up in the non-productive railroad which it was endeavoring to
extricate by negotiations with a syndiicate to take -the whole
railroad enterprise off its hands. Besides the properties men¬
tioned, the corporation had cash in hank of £113,000 and real es¬
tate valued at £36,000, altogether assets of a nominal value
equivalent to about $15,000,000 or our money, with loans of 52,-
160,000. It will be seen that it was quite a large concern. In 1899
$2,500,000, and in 1900 $5,000,000 were written off on account of
losses. It is therefore not surprising that its securities were sold
in the market, for what comcern could write off such amounts
and claim tO' be sound? "What the securities in the treasury
really were, and how far they sustained the valuations given in
the balance sheet only the directors knew, but that they were a
dimishing quantity under the movements of the market seems to
have been common knowledge and to have brought about tha
catastrophe. This affair is certain to create investigation of otner
financing corporations, with results yet to be revealed.
GOVERNO'R OD'ELL recommends in his first annual mes¬
sage that all questions relating to the organization, ad¬
ministration and supervision of 'corporaitions controlling public
utilities should be placed in the hand's of the Railroad Commis¬
sion, The ground for this recommendation is that these corpo¬
rations are organized under the Transportation law, and since
they need public supervision, the Railroad Coramiission is the
most convenient body to exercise it. That the supervision is de¬
sirable almost everybody is agreed, and it would certainly be
a great improvement to have the Legislature delegate the powers
it exercises at present to a commission which, in case new privi¬
leges or an extension of present privileges were desired, could
look to it that the corporation paid what the privileges were
worth. But the use of a .State 'commission for the purpose does
not seem desirable. The matter is essentially one of local im¬
portance, and should be left in the hands of municipal officials.
The Governor recommends, indeed, that no act of the commission
for such purposes should be valid, until the consent of appra-
priate local authorities be secured. But, if the acquiescence of
local authorities be necessary, why complicaite the machinery by
bringing in the Railroad Com.mission as well? It is New York's
own particular business what becomes of her S'treets, and the
city government is, or should be, capable of deciding such mat¬
ters for itself. Anything, however, wo'uld be better than the pres¬
ent heedless and demoralizing interference of the Legislature, and
if the only alternate is the State Railroad Commission, by 'all
means let the State commission be tried.
THE appraisements of real es'tate for tax purposes, which are
to be published on Monday week, will, -we understand,
show only the norma! increase for new improvements, etc. A
good many changes have, we understand, been made in individ¬
ual assessments, and these will appear in largest numbers in
Sections 1. 4, 5, 6 and 7; that is, below Grand street, on the West
Side, and in other parts of the city that have become settled, east
of Central Park. Without a large increase in the real estate val¬
uations, it is argued that, with a larger budget the tax rate must
be advanced this year twenity cents or so, but this will depend
somewhat on the personal estate and franchise tax valuations
of which no estimate is or can for some time be forthcoming.
THERE are two suificiently obvious comments to he made
upon the article which the "Evening Post" published dur¬
ing the past week under the heading, "What Tammany Costs."
In the first place it was not really an a.ttempt to find out what
Tammany costs. The figures really show not merely the cost of
Tammany, but the leost of consolidation, and the cost of certain
mandatory legislation at Albany; and a paper which 'intended to
deal justly in the matter would not have put all the cost on
Tammany in the headlines, and then transferred two-thirds of it
to other sources in an explanatory editorial. We are not claim¬
ing for a moment that Tammany government is an inexpensive
luxury. On the contrary, it is evident that the rulers of New
York fully believe that people put a small value upon things that
come cheap, and are consequently fully determined that the tax¬
payers shall appre'ciate their services by paying roundly for them.
But to make Tammany responsible, even in headlines, for more
than a comparatively small part of the increase in taxes since
consolidation is not only unjust, but fatally obscures the question
as tO' how economy may best be brought about. The reform ad¬
ministration of the late M'ayor Strong, whatever its virtues, was
not remarkable for economy, and had Seth Low been elected in
place of Mayor Van Wyck, Tammany papers would have been
making quite as effective a showing under the heading, "What
Reform Costs." No doubt the taxpayers would in that case have
been receiving more for their <money than they do at present,
but there can be no doubt that the tendency of reform adminis¬
tration h not economical. The reformers are looking forward
to assuming a good many responsibilities and tackling a good
m'any problems, which Tammany does not care to touch, and their
purpose to alleviate the condition of 'the tenement-house popu¬
lation is not one which can be realized cheaply. The truth Is that
any considerable reduction in present expenses would demand a
drastic purgajtioft and renewal of departmental personnel and