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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 59, no. 1528: June 26, 1897

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June 26, 1897. Record and Guide #1 ESTABUSHED^IWPH2U>I868; £te%D TO ftEA,LESTAJt,BuiLDI/fc AR,CH"lTEeTUR,E,KciJSEKOIDDDQai^nMi; Busn/Ess AifoTHEHEs OF GEjlERAt W-renEST.; PRICE* PER YEAR, IN ADVANCE, SIX DOLLARS. Fublished every Saturday. TBLXPHOMS, - . . . . COKTLAHDT 1370 OommimloKtloiiB sboiild be addressed to C. W. SWEET, 14-16 Vesey Street. J. T, LINDSEY, Business Manager. "Entered al tfie Post-office at Wew York, Jf. T., a* second-elass matter." Vol. LIX. JUNE 26, 1897. No. 1,528 NEW BUILDING LAWS. The Record and Guide will publish a new edition of the New York Building Laws and ordinances as soon as official copies of several recent laws can be obtained from the Secretary of State's office. Those who are familiar with the manner in which our previous editions of the building laws have been compiled know what to expect—a handy volume, with headings and mar¬ ginal notes, full indexes and colored engravings. This is a complete and standard work, edited by William J. Fryer, and is invaluable to architects, builders and others interested in building oper ations. The new edition will bring the building laws up to date, together with the Greater New York Charter provisions, which latter take eifect next January. Orders for the new publication may now be sent in to the Record and Guide, Nos. 14 and i6 Vesey Street, New York, and deliveries will be made at the earliest day practi¬ cable. THE public and the press are becoming more and more im¬ pressed with the fact that our commercial conditions have improved and are improving. A few months ago the few who saw what was coming and lifted their voices in prophecy were regarded with suspicion : to-day the suspicion would alight on anyone who did not take a cheerful view of the situation. Gen¬ eral views are often unreliable, because they are only too often the result of a good feeling that a period of Inflation has pro¬ duced. To-day it ia only apparent that we have emerged from a period of depression and that good times are ahead, to cul¬ minate later on possibly in inflation, bat no want of conservat¬ ism has been apparent anywhere. As a matter of fact, in many lines there is still considerable hesitation ; this the adjustment of the tariff, which is now in siglit, may remove. Because of this hesitation some doubt the genuineness of the bull move¬ ment in the stock market, but if there ever was a healthy and justifiable advance it is that being made to-day in the prices of securities, allowance being maae for the ability of Wall street to discount coming conditions. The gain in prices is so far almost wholly based upon profitable developments, the writing down of interest burdens, dividends declared and prospective, and matters of like nature. When the movement reaches the new and helpless issues then will be the time for fear, but that is a good way ahead yet. Seeing the process of opening out and rebuilding in our trade and commerce that is goiug on there is no reason why the present movement should not endure for some time to come, with the usual and natural reactions, of course. ------------a------------ THERE is current a report that the Bauk of England is about to compete more actively for the London discount husi¬ ness. If this is so it will compel a change of policy in regard to the quoted bank rate, which has for a long time been fictitious. With the Bank of England looking for discounts it would have to make its rate conform to that at which business was actually done, and instead of a quotation away above the market—to¬ day it is 2 per cent, as compared with 1 per cent, or less out- aide—the cable would bring us the rate for the pick of the busi¬ ness. This, we think, would be much more serviceable than the aominal rate now made. The English country banks which operate on the quoted bank rate might complain, but would either have to make a rate for themselves or conform more nearly to metroi>olitan practice. The Bank of England is forced into a more aggressive policy apparently by the impossibility of employing its funds satisfactorily any other way. Console have been for some time out of the question ; indeed it appears that the high prices for these have induced some of the banks to take profits upon them and take their chances of employing the proceeds more profitably elsewhere. Investing institutions are now holding much larger amounts of shares, stocks and debentures and Indian and Colonial Glovernmentsecuritiesthan they did ten years ago. By larger we meau that the increase is greater in proportion to the increase in other lines. From this it would appear that consols are being abandoned to savings institutions, trusts and ultra-conservative investors, whose abil¬ ity to maintain present quotations may be fairly questioned. The desire for larger returns on money has not been so pro¬ nounced for two or three years and it is becoming every day clearer that the public is regarding the United States more and more as the place where that desire may be gratified. This is especially so since the announcement of Secretary Gage regard¬ ing the policy of the Administration on the subject of the currency. The State Board of Arhitration, THE building trades though slow are not the last to rally from the effects oE a financial crisis, inasmuch as low prices of material have a tendency to induce idle capital to seek employment in the improvement of real estate, a species of in¬ vestment which is at all times regarded as comparatively safe. However, the temporary advantage of low prices may be more than ofi'set by friet'on between labor and capital. At a time like the present it is therefore of the utmost importance to the community atlarge that labor disputes should he suspended in building trades. Nevertheless, during the past year there were uo fewer than seventy-one strikes aud lockouts iu those trades in New York City alone, perhaps a majority being occasioned by the failure of labor unions to agree among themselves as to the division of work. Others, like the plasterers strike now in progress, were based on demands for impossible concessions from employers, which never for a moment left their ultimate failure iu doubt. In short, unstable conditions of the labor market are discouraging activity not only in the building trades but iu other industries as well, and seriously retarding the re¬ vival of business. It was to make impossible precisely such conditions as these that the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration was estab¬ lished some ten years ago. In 1886, following the example of Massachusetts, the Legislature passed a law creating a public tribunal of arbitration, which was reorganized with increased powers in the following year. This Board has proved a positive failure. It has probably not efl'eeted the settlement of a single strike of importance during the whole of its existence. At any rate, it has achieved no end which could not have beeu accom¬ plished by private arbitration without the expenditure to the tax-payer of about $20,000 a year. It enjoys the confidence of neither labor nor capital, audits abolition was advocated in the last session of the Legislature, Governor Black having called attention to its uselessness in his annual message. The secret of the Board's failure is not difficult to discover. Iu the first place it is a political creation; secondly, it is in¬ vested with vexatious powers of inquisition without being able to enforce its decisions. The Board consists of three members appointed by the Governor for three years—one member from each of the two leading political parties, and one from a "bona fide labor organization." The Board has power to call for and examine all the books, papers and documents of any party to a labor controversy, with the same authority to enforce their pro- ductiou as is possessed by courts of record. This is a dangerous power to place in the hands of a public commission, and so long as the Board cannot compel the parties to a strike to submit their differences to it uor to abide by its decisions, merely serves to create a fatal prejudice against the Board. Employers fear the Board's power of inquisition, while workingmen despise its impotence to enforce its decrees. But i£ the State tribunal of arbitration is abolished what shall take its place? Improvement in the relations between em¬ ployer and employed must, it would seem, be sought partly in a more perfect organization of labor, partly in some form of private arbitration. A large percentage of strikes is due to the absence of a central authority among labor unions of sufficieut weight to settle disputes between them as to the distribution of work. Eurfcher, individual unions, owing to loose organization, allow themselves to be led temporarily by turbulent minorities. Trades unionism is recognized by law. But the law does not yet insist on the principle that the right to organize involves the duty to organize well. Organization for the control of the labor market must be regarded as a busine**, to be safeguarded, like other businesses, in proportion to the attendant social risks. It