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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 71, no. 1827: March 21, 1903

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March 21, 1903. RECORD AND GUIDE 537 ni. Biftofess Alio Themes OF GETlER^lKTERfs-ti PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE, SIX DOLLARS TubUshed eVerg Satnrday Communications should tie addressed to C. W. SWEET, 14-16 Vesey Street, New YorK *. T. LINDSEY, Business Manager Telephone, Cortlandt 3157 "IMered al the. Post OMce at New York. N. T.. as second-class mailer." Vol. LXXI. MARCH 21, 1903. No. 1827 SO far as the news cf the week has a bearing upon the secur¬ ity market it is on the whole, favorable rather than other¬ wise. First in importance are the current reports of railroatl earnings, whicli continue to reflect in increases the satisfactory nature of tlie business of the country, regarding which the second annual statement of the United States Steel Corpora¬ tion will furnish further testimony. If, as is claimed with much plausibility, Lhe iron trade affords the very best indications of general conditions, then the activity in that line and the orders on the books of the great manufacturing concerns ought to be highly encouraging for the immediate future. Foreign trade reports show that the adverse difference between imports and exports is being closed under a freer movement of corn and cotton, and as this has a distinct beariug upon the money situa¬ tion and the question of American liabilities abroad, it is at this time more than usually interesting and important. As to the money market itself, thougli rates for both time and call ac¬ commodations continue high, there is not only no further fear of a pinch this spring, but rather a feeling that relief from present conditions is near. This is consonant with the opera¬ tions of money usual at this time of the year, when the drain upon this centre should cease and a return movement shortly begin. The floods in the South are regarded with some natural anxiety, but they are not such as to have appreciable effect upon values. As to the outlook in the stock market, that is somewhat obscured by the fuss raised over Southern Pacific by the mana¬ ger of the pool that has long been known to exist in that stock and whose prospects for a profitable result are dim. The pub¬ lication of the facts relating to this pool will certainly warn the public against buying tho stock, and as matters have turned out it is difiicult to see where the market is to be found for their holdings. As to the merits of the question incidentially raised, whether Southern Pacific should be placed in the dividend ranks, those who are acquainted wil:h the property and familiar with its affairs, and are at the same time disinterested, will agree with the management that the ultimate good of the property will be best served by using the profits frcm operation to in¬ crease its efficiency and facilities. Subject to the proviso that this quarrel has no disturbing denouement, prices ought to continue the process of gradual recovery begun this week. ■p^vULLNESS is reported from the European Exchanges this ■^^ week, and this does not encourage those who have been expecting help from that quarter to put up prices in our own. Still the view is held in some quarters that the inactivity re¬ marked is simply due to the demand for money, and that a period of buying is about to supervene. Speaking of Ijondon "The Statist" says: There are many indications outside as well as inside the Stock Exchange that the public is tired of its in¬ activity during Lhe past ihree or four years, and is once more preparing to invest upon a considerable scale. For the time being the market is held in cheek by the state of the money market, and probably until after Easter there wiil not be much activity." The same story is told in Paris, where it is apparent the public have abundant means and a desire to buy, but at the same time they want good returns. Thus the Servian loan which yields 5i/^% was taken up, and there is buyingof what may be termed the cats and dogs of Governments, while the very best issues in that class go begging. This confirms what we said last week about Consols and what we have lor a long time pointed out as the tendency of investment buying. It indicate a revival of courage among European buyers, and a fancy for speculative issues, which they have not possessed since the days of Argentine development and the consequent Baring fail¬ ure. If they continue in this frame of mind United States In¬ dustrials, which pay more and are safer than some of the Gov¬ ernments so confidently bought, ought to come in Eor a share of attention. As to the business outlook there is no cbange. It is one of cheerfulness even if the signs of betterment do not loom up very large. Mathematical records of prices for staple commodities show that the movement is upward. The London "Economist" monthly index ligure has risen steadily since last June, and at the beginning of this month stood higher than it has been since December, 1900. The Governor of the Bank of France is lately quoted to the effect that in 1901 the hope of a revival in the following year was expressed, but it was not real¬ ized in 1902 to any considerable extent. There was, however, with the opening of this year signs of improvement. There had been a good harvest, the prices of wines were good, imports of raw manufactures had been large and the exports had been most satisfactory; also there were increases in some directions of railway traffic returns. Germany also contributes evidence of a European industrial revival in a satisfactory report of foreign trade for the opening of the year, and in growing demand for industrial capital. In a revival of European security specula¬ tion the United States is bound to share. \XT HILE awaiting the text of the Mortgage Tax bill intra- * J^ duced into the Legislature this week, it may be taken for granted that the descriptions of the measure sent from Al¬ bany are correct, as they agree with advance information of the probable contents of the bill, and that it is well drafted to se¬ cure the purpose of its promoters. There is no reason why technically the bill should not be a good piece of construction. The people up the State have had plenty of practice by now, this being the third attempt to impose a double tax on real estate, during which a dozen or more bills have been introduced. So far as the question involved in this bill is concerned it has been pretty well threshed out. It is simply one of whether this means should be taken to put the State upon an inde¬ pendent pecuniary basis in the face of a public opposed to a tax on mortgages, not yet convinced that it is best for the State that it should be made pecuniarily independent of the localities and who, while seeing that a reform of the tax system is neces¬ sary, are anxious that when made it should be made scientifi¬ cally, and with due regard to all interests concerned. This being the position of affairs it is hardly worth while again going over the arguments put forward to justify the proposed new tax. There are two, however, that are employed so constantly that they ought to still receive attention. One is the widow and orphan argument, and the other the alleged reduction of interest that will follow exemption from all taxes but this one ot four mills. The flrst is simply an absurdity, inasmuch as it amounts to a claim that bei:ause the few mortgages owned by estates under probate are taxed as personality, that a tax ought to be imposed upon all mortgages. The answer to this is, if the widows and orphans are unjustly treated provide legislative remedies. As to the matter of interest rates, there is certainly no guarantee that the imposition of a tax of four mills accom¬ panied by exemption from other taxation will lower interestrates; on the contrary the conditions of the money market is such, and is likely to remain so for a good while longer, that any tax that has to be paid will increase the annual cost of the money bor¬ rowed, and that without diminution, because of exemption from a tax that is not paid, as is the personal tax on mortgages at the present time. There may be cases in which offsets will be found, but they cannot be sufficient to negative the general ciaim tliat the passage of this bill will increase the cost of money borrowed upon real estate to the extent of the tax im¬ posed. IT is very satisfactory tc> see that work has actually been commenced to make Elm street available for traffic and of some use to the property on either side. This it has never been since what can only be technically called the improvement was made, and it would be difficult to estimate the loss that Elm street property owners have suffered in the past six years that the roadway has been, either a storeroom for material, a dump for refuse or an open cut for the underground railroad. As it is the condition of work on the railroad and other circumstances will not permit the hope that the street will be ready for its destined use for some time to come; that is as an artery joining the southern part of the city with the great thoroughfares of the northern part. But as grading has been, or is being done, where the removal of obstructions will permit it and as when once the authorities have a clear way, work can be rapidly pushed, the property upon the street can now be re¬ garded from the standpoint of ordinary uses and not as some¬ thing kept outside of the ordinary influences of development. Its position therefore as marketable real estate must be corre¬ spondingly improved.