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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 65, no. 1680: May 26, 1900

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■May 26, 1900, RECORD AIVD GUIDE. 9^3 DtAteD id Rpkl Estate.SmLDi/fc AfD>frrECTui^,KcnJSDiou)DE8(H«itH BtJsDfess AJfoThemes or GejIerjiI IjfttRpsi. PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE SIX DOLLARS, Publislicd every Saturday. Telephone, CortlAhdt 1370, ;Com mun lection a should be addressed to C. W. SWKET, 14-16 Vesey Street. 7. T. LINDSEY, Business Manager. "Entered at tlic Post-Office n! Nrio York, N. Y., ns second-elass matter." Vol, LXv; MAY 26, 1900. No. 1680. THB activity noticed in the stock market at the ciose of last week proved to be only a flash in the pan, for a duller ■ week than this could hardly be found. Not only were the com¬ mission houses deserted, but at any time of the business day the number of brokers airing themselves at the New street entrance ■of the exchange was quite large and the sounds that came from ■within suggested play rather than work. The failure announced did little to change this. Such dullness after the heavy declines we have seen in prices is phenomenal, and ita significance is hard to determine. In the Industrials the liquidation of the past year has been so severe and the consequent decline in prices so large that it is hard to imagine that there is in them any- thing further to liquidate or that they can go lower before hav¬ ing experienced a reactionary movement. In preferred issues of this class the average decline has amounted to 25 per cent,, and -in the common issues to 50 per cent, of prices quoted a year ago. Tractions have also been heavy sufferers from the change "o( the public attitude toward the stock market; the price of Brooklyn is only about half what it was a year ago, and that of Manhattan has lost forty points and more. The improved in¬ trinsic .position of Railroads, through heavy liquidation and more conservative management spread over a decade, has saved them from the fate of Industrials aud Tractions, though they too would suffer, if the reports of earnings should begin to show declines as some believe they soon will do. All this pessimism, which accounts for the public's avoidance of the stock market, is due to the idea that the industrial situation is no longer good. The failure of Price,McCormick & Co,,though really occurring m the cotton market, will affect stocks eventually through the doubts and suspicions it will create. Besides that, dullness, as a rule, means lower prices. ■T x 7" HILE we are on this subject and before we sink into too V V gloomy depths over the outlook, we ought to see ■^'hether the fall in prices for the great staples, which accounts foe much of our doubt of the future, has not some compensa¬ ting advantage. Our friends across the Atlantic think it has. We find in our foreign exchanges warnings of prospective in¬ creased American competition because of this very fact. British and German iron makers, who are aware of the extreme effi¬ ciency to which our iron plants have been brought, are con¬ vinced that these will not be permitted to be idle, and that con¬ sequently if the home market is not equal to consuming their output, the surplus will be sent abroad. The "Vossische Zei- tung" thinks the American producers will accommodate them¬ selves to the prices prevailing in foreign markets just as soon as the time has come when they find it necessary to unload their surplus product upon those markets. All the bourses of Europe have taken the same view of the serious character of recent events on the American iron market. This unanimity of opin¬ ion in Europe is considered as a striking proof of the general recognition of the fact that the changed conditions of production In America will make American producers masters of the situa¬ tion from now on. With coal, also, the United States is taking a position abroad. The rise in the price of British coal has been so great that the railroads are talking of raising freights to meet It. This has given American coal an opportunity, so that in one issue of "The Economist" of London we notice that at Leghorn, the latter has been laid down $2 a ton cheaper than the British; that a cargo was sent up the Rhine, astonishing the German , producers; and that shipbuilding circles are now occupied with • the problem of constructing steamers of not less than 10,000 tons burden for the coal trade, which will require a relatively small , crew; and in this way it is calculated that the cost of taking coal ' from this country to German ports can be reduced to" Sl,50 or $2 (a ton, at which rates it would he able to compete with the na¬ tive product. It is facts like these, showing revolutionary con¬ ditions, actual or potential, in our trade that make the situation a puzzle. A few years ago the elements where simpler and bet¬ ter known, so that it was comparatively easy to gauge the future from existing appearances; but now the situation has become more complicated by the rapid development of our foreign trade, • though Inr the long run development can only work to our good. Municipal Extravagance. REFORM OP RECKLESS METHODS OP EXPENDITURE "TM- ... - ,i PERATIVB. V^:F'the eight topics upon which the Charter Revision Com- ^^ mission have asked for views and suggestions none ought to receive more attention thanthesixth: "Taxes and assessments: Methods of economy in the public service," On the proper dis¬ position of the three things embraced under this one head de¬ pends the future welfare of the consolidated city, and particu¬ larly that of the borough which has to bear most of its burdens. The past two years have not only brought higher valuations for taxation,but also such enlargements of expenditures as to neces¬ sitate higher tax rates also. Moreover, not only is there no re¬ lief in sight but the policy of the State at large seems to be to make the city run into every sort of extravagance of which the Davis act Is one example. It Is not necessary to point out that this sort of thing cannot go on without injury to realty, or to urge upon everyone concerned the duty of impressing upon tho Charter Revision Committee the necessity, not merely for greater economy, but for a thorough reform of municipal ex¬ penditures at once, and for settling on the city itself the initia¬ tive of all its expenditures. If the Commission wants to know how to cut down the run¬ ning expenses of the municipal government in one Important particular, that of salaries, they need only go through the ofil- cial list of officers and salaries to find that hoth can be exten¬ sively curtailed without injury to the public service. They would find in that list not only that there are too many offices, but that salaries and emoluments in most cases are excessive for the work required to be done, and that In the most subor¬ dinate offices, the pay is ridiculously high, often proportionately higher than what is paid to the Incumbents of quite responsible positions. The all too-numerous secretaries, stenographers, Jan¬ itors, and messengers receive double what is given for the same work of as equal quality and much greater quantity in the open market. A weeding out of unnecessary help in the several city departments and a classification of pay to bring it more In accord with market rates would alone achieve an economy that would be appreciably felt In the tax hills. In all departments there has been a reckless Increase of ad¬ ministrative and executive cost; and. In addition, the Charter provisions have allowed a sort of equalization of pay in the several boroughs and that of Manhattan being the highest it has. of course, been taken as the standard. The Department of Education affords a conspicuous evidence of these two thintrs. In Manhattan, according to figures that have been furnished us from official sources, the annual cost per pupil, since 1897, has increased from $18,54 to $29,02, and In Brooklyn from $14,55 to $29.62. In 1897 the total salaries in the Brooklyn Department of Education compared as 50.5 to 100 In Manhattan and the Bronx, and now has risen to 66,5 to 100, with only a very small Increase in the proportionate attendance. The Increase in the total num- ■ ber of pupils was about 13,000 in each borough, but Brooklyn has 500 more teachers and Manhattan only 133 more, so that the pro¬ portion of teachers in the former has risen from 68.5 to 78 to 100 In the latter. The number of pupils per teacher in Manhattnn has increased from.47 to 48, and In Brooklyn It has dropped from 44 to 41. On top o( this we are to have the addi¬ tional cost of the Davis act, the extent of which, though the sub¬ ject of varying estimates, cannot be leas than several millions cf dollars at once. The fiow of taxpayers' money through the other departments of the City Governments has been also of Increased volume, and altogether we have a" pretty bad story of the means and incentive to recklessness ih administration afforded by the Charter. That such a policy of extravagance will result In serious em¬ barrassment if continued, any of the pupils whose education jg coasting \\s so much more than it,did two years ago, could tell us. Especially would it strike him or her that Manhattan, which has to provide the major part of the funds to carry out this policy, suffers most and should be the first and loudest in protestation against it To this may he added, that anyone can see that It is the duty of the Charter Revision Commission, in any case, to provide an economical basis for our municipal Expenditure and to prevent the recurrence of extravagance; arid further, to better equalize the burdens of the several horou|hs in proportion to their several yeijuirementa. . ■ ^ 1