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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 67, no. 1716: February 2, 1901

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RECORD AND GUIDE. 177 DeAteD p Rf^L EsTATi. BmLOl^'G A^rcKitegtui^e .KciiseHold DEOfflifllfllt A^/DThemes OF GeKeraI Intefiesi. PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE SIX DOLLARS. PuMisUed ever J/ Saturday. TELEPHONE, CORTLANDT I37O. 'Communications sbould be addressed to C. W. SWEET, 14-16 Vesey Street. /. T. LINDSEY, Business Manager. "Entered at the Poat-Office at New York, N. T., aa second-clasa matter." Vol. LXVII. FEBRUARY 2, 1901. No. 1716. The Index to Volume LXVI of the Record and Guide, covering Ihe period between July ist and December 31st, igoo, is now ready for delivery. Price, $1, This Index in its enlarged form is now recognized as indispensable to every one engaged or interested in real estate and building operations. It covers alt transactions— deeds, mortgages, leases, auction sales, building plans Hied, etc. Or- ders for the Index should be sent at once to the oMce of publication, 14 and 16 Vesey Street. T COKING under the reports of deals and combinations that ■^- are given as the reason for the continued strength of the Stock Market, It will be found that the real cause is the great volume of the capital that has at present no other use. In what other way can the every-day demand for investments lie satisfied? Government bonds are practically pre-empted by banks of issue and trusts; municipal bonds are also to a great extent absorbed by fiduciary agencies. What then can an investor, of whom new ones appear in the market every day, put their money in but railroad bonds and stocks. The rail¬ roads themselves, besides doing an unprecedentedly good husi¬ ness, are solving the problem of anti-pooling by direct and in¬ direct ownership of competing lines, and, under restriction ot new lines to avowed needs, creating monopolies of territories that give an immensely improved value to their securities. Already these facts have in the past three months produced an enormous investment buying and removed from the arena of speculation a corresponding amount of railroad securities. That alone would account for much of the advance in quotations; but this is also to be considered; with the volume of available se¬ curities so considerably lessened, a moderate short selling move¬ ment creates a scarcity and prices can be easily run up. The only thing that the public do not appear to see is that good conditions do not last for ever, and that the average ought to be the guiding principle in buying. Industrial shares are improving under signs of a better understanding among the managers of the properties they represent. If it could only be believed that this good behavior would last, there would be a rush of buyers to this side of the market, because considered, with all offsetting allowances that prudence would require to be made, many of these issues are cheap, particularly the preferred shares. Even with the suspicion that always rests upon prop¬ erties run by speculating managers and the mystery with which the reports of their condition are clothed, there is reason to believe that a discriminated line of these shares could not fail to pay in the near future. SOME lessening is seen of the satisfaction expressed when the British trade figures for last year were first issued. While they bulk well and show monetary increases in both ex¬ ports and imports, these results are found on ejcamination to be brought about in a way that does not promise well commer¬ cially. An increase of about $200,000,000 of imports is found to be accompanied by no change in the volume of the goods re¬ ceived. There are variations in and exceptions to the rule, but the final result is that the increase as a whole is due only to higher prices. In tbe item of raw cotton, there is an increase of about $65,000,000, of which $55,000,000 is increased cost. The nation has then to face the facts, that it has been buying raw material at high prices and that the quotations for manu¬ factured articles are now declining, with the prospect favoring further declines rather than increases. In exports, again, coal cuts so large a figure in producing the total increase and Its ex¬ port has so advanced prices on the home consumer that It is doubtful if in the long run any real benefit has resulted from the Improvement of this department of trade. Qladatone's dic¬ tum, that excess of imports is a sign of wealth, though long accepted, is being questioned now by economists alarmed by the growing excess of imparts over exports. It is asked whether this does not mean that as a nation the British have ceased to save and are beginning to live upon their capital, which would be a very serious thing both politically and commercially.. Its possibility is, we think, rather too readily admitted, and the train of thought into which economic writers have allowed themselves to run is due as much to the unfortunate events that have oppressed the British nation for a couple of years as to the actual conditions of trade and finance. Otherwise, It would be somewhat ludicrous to see a people just passing out of a pro¬ longed era of the greatest prosperity scare so much at the pros¬ pect of the bad times that always follow good as certainly as the world goes round. An Inadmissible Suggestion. OUR Albany correspondent hints at a probable compromise on the bills to tax banks and trust companies for State purposes 1 per cent, on their capital, surplus and undivided profits, on the basis of exemption of the same from taxation for local purposes. "The Evening Post " openly advocates this. It is evident that there- is something more than mere coinci¬ dence in this. If the thing is so pervading, it at least suggests the direction in which the opposition to these bills propose to act. Assuming that, it is also right that the public should know what would be the. consequence of this compromise if accepted by the legislature. First it should be stated that it was the Tax Department of this city that originally drew attention to the disproportion ot the contribution of the trust companies to the public revenue to that of the banks. This was not done to secure relief for the banks, but to bring the trust companies up to the bank's level as taxpayers, except incidentally as the area of taxation would be broadened the contribution of any part would be correspondingly lessened, a process that would ben¬ efit real estate and the other forms of taxabies in common with bank capital. This idea was embodied in the Stranahan bill of last year, but, being in evil company, that of the tax on mortgages, came to grief. Until this year it has always been thought that the assess¬ ment should be made and the tax levied by the local authorities, the State support being provided by what is known as the direct tax. This year, however, under the lead of Governor Odell, Albany proposes, not to abolish the direct tax, but to render Its imposition unnecessary, by taxing bank and trust company cap¬ ital for State purposes, though not as yet suggesting its exemp¬ tion from taxation for local purposes. That suggestion comes indirectly from the banking interest. No doubt they would be very glad to see it adopted, because it would simply mean that their capital would be taxed at 1 per cent, instead of at the local rate, which, in this city, was last year about 214 per cent., and in 1899, 2% per cent. The so-called compromise would be a tripartite deal made for the benefit of a duality. That is, the State wouM get its income, the banks would have their tax-rate reduced, but the city would be robbed of a valu¬ able tax asset. The theft might be compensated to some extent by an increase in the amount of taxes paid by the trust com¬ panies reducing the city's obligations in the matter of the direct State tax; but that it made doubtful again by the difference in the proposed State and the actual city rate; and, probably, al¬ together destroyed by the expropriation of a legitimate local tax asset. In effect the compromise, so called, would reduce the actual local tax valuations by $80,000,000,000 or $90,000,000, and the pos¬ sible tax valuation by as much more, all of which would go to the State, but the State would not realize half as much as tbe city would upon it. The difference would have to be mainly made good by real estate. It is easy to see, therefore, why the banks would prefer to pay the 1 per cent, to the State, and also why the city would prefer to keep these taxabies subject to its own assessors, and continue to pay the direct tax. At the same time it would be obviously unfair to put the new tax on bank and trust company capital for State purposes and leave it still liable for taxation for local purposes as at present. The proper thing to do is to leave matters as the are, with the addition of making the trust companies liability to taxation equal to that of the banks. I I N appropriating the additional money needed for using marble in the construction of the new Public Library, the Board of Estimate and Apportionment have acted with a proper sense of the architectural and civic importance of the building. The Library will stand, as much as any single structure can, for