crown CU Home > Libraries Home
[x] Close window

Columbia University Libraries Digital Collections: The Real Estate Record

Use your browser's Print function to print these pages.

Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 24, no. 612: December 6, 1879

Real Estate Record page image for page ldpd_7031128_024_00000461

Text version:

Please note: this text may be incomplete. For more information about this OCR, view About OCR text.
J Real Estate Record AND BUILDERS' GUIDE. Vol. XXIV. NEW YOEK, 8ATUKDAY, DECEMBEll (>, 1879. iSo. 012 Publuihed Weekly by Cbc %m[ Estate Eetortr ^ssoctatton, TERMS. 0!VE YKAIt. in ad vance.... SIU.OU. Coinninnications should be addre.ssed to. C. W. SW^EKT. Nos. 135 AND 137 Broadway COiSGRESS AND PRICES. The sharp break in the price of stocks on the E.Kchange, which took place a couple of weeks since, was in great part due to the certainty that when Congress met various disquieting financial iiuestious would inevitably be discussed. It is one of the misfortunes of the situation that a congrega¬ tion of political lawj-ers, influenced by local con¬ siderations and swayed by political passions, should have pow-er to augment or contract tbe currency of the country. In other nations the volume of the circulating medium is controlled partly by the public demand, but iu a great measure by their existing National Banks. We have no such institution, and in some respects it is unfortunate that we have not. The poweiw exercised by a National Bank are distributed by us among several agencies. First, there is Congress, then there is the Secretary of the Treasury, then the associated banks of New York, and lastly, but very often by no means the least in real power, the local money lenders. These last have a great deal to say as to how much or how little currency shall be afloat at any one time. It is useless just now to try and get tho country back to the partial control of its finances by a National Bank, but it is a grave mis¬ fortune that so much power over the monetary interests of the country is lodged in a Congress of political lawyers and in a Secretary of the Treasury, who is, first of all, a politician, and very often a candidate for the Presidency. It .is perhaps fortunate for the business of the . country in some respects that John Sherman, the present Secretary, is a candidate for the Presi¬ dency. He will do nothing during his term of oflice to make money artificially tight or to decrease the amount of currency afloat. But Wall street has been arguing for the past two weeks that it was inevitable when Congress met that measures would be proposed looking to a con¬ traction of the currency. If such contraction were ever seriously pressed it was realized that it would for a time cause a halt in the speculative movement. Among the measures likely to be propofed in the National Legislature is one stopping tho coin, age of the silver dollar, and another looking to the withdrawal of all small bills, both greenbacks and bank notes of less denomination than twenty- five doUai-s. Were the silver dollars no longer to be coined, it would be taken as another blow at one of the precious metals, and would be looked upon as virtual contraction. It is since the re- monetization of the silver dollar that business has revived. It is recalled vividly, by all buti- ness men, that the demonetization of the silver dollar in 1S7.S was followed by a disastrous panic, and though there may be no real relation betvreen the two facts, yet still it would help to make people apprehensive if the coinage of the silver dollar were stopped. It is very natural to sup¬ pose, also, that a strong effort will be made to withdraw small bills, so as to eject'tbe surplus silver dollars, gold eagles, and half eagles into the currency of the country. We are a bullion pro¬ ducing nation; we mine both gold and silver, and we should as far as possible, use these two metals in our local trading. In California, Canada, and jll Western Europe, one sees nothing but gold and silver coinage in the retail channels of trade. Bills are rarely used abroad, for the five pound Bank of England note is the lowest denomination issued by that institution. It is something of an anomaly to see nations which do not directly produce either gold or silver, making those metals the only popular coinage, while the United State?, which is vitally interested iu the products of the bullion mines, should be using paper money for its daily local exchanges. The present Congress was elected at a time when the Greenback illusions were rife, and it is net believed that any serious attempt to curtail our currency will be attempted. Secretary Sher¬ man has every reason for wishing the business public to be pleased, and he will not seriously urge anything which looks like contraction. Yet it would lie really a wholesome thing to do, were Congress to in some M'ay check the tendency to inflation, now so rampant. It would be better all around, were the business public to realize that it is best to make haste slowly. The New York morning papers have demanded.tbat the green¬ backs should be %vithdrawn, and-isay witb some truth that it does not look seemly for a govern¬ ment whose coffers are filled with gold and silver which it cannot get into circulation, should still have over three hundred million of unredeemed promises to pay floating among the community. And here is another cause for uneasiness in the minds of the business public. There is a likeli¬ hood that at any time the Supreme Court of the JJnited States may declare that paper money can¬ not be a legal tender in time of peace. Gold and silver alone are regarded as constitutional cur¬ rency by many eminent lawyers. This has been so held by hundreds of decisions, and the only valid¬ ity of the legal tender npte was that it was issued in time of war when the laws were silent. Those w ho know best are satisfied that when the United States Supreme Court has to pass upon this mat¬ ter it will declare the legal tenders unconstitu¬ tional. This will surely create a disturbance in values, for it then will become the duty of Con¬ gress to order the liquidation of the greenbacks and the payment either in bonds, or in gold and silver coin. This will further necessitate the re¬ organization of our national banking system, for then the country will have to provide against the danger of an over-issue of currency by the banks. Indeed one ofthe most potent causes of the recent inflation was the large issues by the national banks. The newspapers of the day were blaming the greenbacks for the inflation, whereas they are a fixed quantity and cannot be increased. Tha editors have been urging that the whole busi¬ ness of the currency issues should be left to the National banks, and yet it was these last that were increasing the volume of the currency and not tho Treasury Department. It will be seen that the national bank question is by no means settled. What with the dispersion of the powers of a great national bank among several factors, the problem of the withdrawal of the small notes; the funding of the greenbacks, and the re-organization of our present national bank system on a peace basis, there will be required judgment, consideration, and statesmanlike caution, which we hope will not be found wanting when Congress has to act upon these important mattei-s. Persons who purchase land, or think of doing so, .should bear all these contingencies in view; money lenders should be cautious and not advance too largely upon landed property; buyers of realty should remember that the days of th* fluctuation of the currency are not yet over, and that while the party in power will make thing* pleo-sant until after the election, next fall, yet it is not wise to extend obligations which w^ill run over more than two or three years. While the out¬ look is promising, it ought to induce caution upon the part of investors. IIE.YL ESTATE THE SGAPEGO.\T. Governor llobuison last year vetoed a resolution passed by both houses of the LcKislature creating a tax einnniissuiii, if not to revise then at least to reuoninieiid what revi.»dous were iiec< ssary to place our tax laws somewhat upon a just and equitable basis. We arc not disposed to discuss the wisdom of this veto, nor is it our province to enter into the po'itical motives, underlying any actions that have been taken in the Legislature or siiuelched in the Executive Department at Albany, bearing on this question. We know this, however, that iu very a few weeks the New York Legislature will meet again and that the taxation laws will como in for at least a decent share of Legislative attention during the continuance of the session. It is with the view of presenting some facts that no doubt are unknown to the intelligent Soloiis who are to frame the State laws forj about live millions of active and level headed citizen* of this State that a representative of The Heai- Estate Record looked over the files and archives of tho tax oflice a few days ago—not for the pur¬ pose of drawing therefrom argnnients to be spread in these colnmiis, but simply to supply food for re¬ flection to the Legislature of the State of New York. To begin with, it must be borne in mind tbat the real estate of our city bears the greatest burden of taxation, and that the personal property—also subject to tax aa well as real estate escapes this burthen in the most free and easy manner that has ever been heard of. Now, it will not do to charge the Coramisionera of Taxes with dereliction of duty. They have but to follow- the law, and if this law furnishes loopholes for a large number of our millionaires to excape Jrom this burthen, it is the law- and not the CominisBioncra that must be held responsible. When men like August Belmont, for instance, or W. H, Vanderbilt can claim exemiition from personal tax because, forsooth, they have their summer residences else¬ where, it ia time the law on this subject should bo amended, so aa to reach these nabobs. Let them pay all they please to the municipalities that give them tho opportunity to display their eiinip- ages or other luxuries, but that ia uo reason why the city that gives them their being and their income should be deprived from the equitable per centage that others less favored must pay on their