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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 76, no. 1953: August 19, 1905

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August 19, 1905. BJRCORD AND GTTTDE 309 E3TABUSHED-^ (WFH 2L«> 1668. Bi;sniESS jutolHEHES Of GEjlEH^l.ljrtEflfSJ.. PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE EIGHT DOLLARS PabUshed eVerg Saturdag CommunloatlonB should db addrsaaed to C. W. SWEET, 14-16 Vesey Street, New York Telephona. Cortlandt 3157 "Entered at the Post Office at New York. N. Y. as second-class matter." Copyright by the Real Estate Record and Bailders' Guide ComVaay. Vol. LXXVI. AUGUST 19, 1B05. No. 1953. INDEX TO DEPARTMENTS. (Advertising Section.) Page Cement ................ xxv Clay Products ........... xxiv Contractors and Builders.. vi Fireproofing ............ ii Granite ................ xlv Heating ................ xix Iron and Steel . .. . Law ............. Stcno ............ Quick Job Directory Real Estate ...... Wood' Products .... THE stoclc market has on the whole been pursuing a health.v course during the past week. The advance has been checlied in certain high-priced securities and certain other se¬ curities which have not hitherto been so much afEected by tlie bull movement have received most attention and have sus¬ tained the most marked improvement. At the same time it is not a runaway market, and every rise is followed by a whole¬ some amount of profit taking. It looks as if the upward trend of prices would be continued throughout lhe next few months; but it will not be a market in which indiscriminate buying will be profitable. The average price of the twenty leading rail¬ way stocks is now higher than the highest average price in 3902; and in these stocks at least there is small chance of an increased rate of dividend distribution during the coming year. The great majority of them are selling on less than a four per cent basis at the present time, and this fact makes them ex¬ pensive slocks to carry. If speculative interest is to be kept alive in stocks of this class, it will be by means of certain financial readjustments which will be tantamount to extra divi¬ dends to stockholders. On the other hand, there are still some comparatively low stocks on the list which may be good for a further rise of ten points or more—particularly certain railroad securities which would be peculiarly benefited by an abundant corn crop. As soon as this crop is freed from the danger of early frosts, these securities will receive still more attention. It is still a market in which intelligent buying should be well rewarded. IT is very much to be hoped that the coming investigation of the life insurance companies will be conducted in a dignified manner, and in a fair and disinterested spirit. The object of the investigation should not be any more •'revelations" merely sensational exposure. The public knows pretty well the kind of management to which the Equitable was formerly subjected. Wliat the Legislative committee should investigate is the whoio busines,B of life insurance as conducted under the laws of the State of New York. An impression which was or may not be well founded, has been spread throughout the country that there is something wrong about the methods which the large com¬ panies pursue in seeking business; about the kind of policies ■which they prefer to write, and about the investments whicli th'fey are allowed to make. It is coming to be believed, foi instance, that the interests of existing policy holders are sacri¬ ficed to tlie pressure of expensive competition among the large companies for new business, and that the direction which re¬ turn should take is smaller expense and safer investments. How far this criticism is justified is a technical matter which camiot he fully understood without a very thorough investiga¬ tion; and the first duty of the committee will be to bring out the facts which will enable people to judge how far this and other criticisms are true. Moreover, it is not merely the New York life insurance companies which are under lire at the present time. What people are demanding just as forcibly is an investigalion of the New Tork State laws under which the life insurance business is regulated. It is becoming tolerably certain that unless these laws and their enforcement are made more stringent, that an increasing demand will make itself felt- looking in the direction of federal regulation and inspection. Hence, it will be seen that a great many very important issues are hanging upon the results of this investigation; and we sin¬ cerely hope that nothing will prevent the committee from mak¬ ing its investigation thorough and from recommending with¬ out fear or favor the necessary remedial legislation. There should be no suspicion allowed to linger in the minds of western policy holders that the life insurance companies are bigger than the State of New Tork. Page xviii viil XX ill xxvi X xxii A PROMINENT broker recently declared in an interview published in the Record and Guide that in his opinion there would be no room for real estate speculation during the coming year similar to that of the season of 19i>4-1905. There is probably some sense in this anticipation. Assuredly there is no corresponding opportunity for speculation in vacant land as there was in the fall of 1904. The speculation which has already occurred on Washington Heights and beyond and in the Eronx went as far and even farther in raising prices than was justified by the building opportunity in those vicinities, In many sec¬ tions the holders of vacant land will have to carry their prop¬ erty at high prices for a number of years before they can dis¬ pose of it to builders; and the cost of such operations is very considerable. Neither does there seem to be very much chance for large operations in the central business sections on Man¬ hattan Island. W^e shall doubtless see a continuation of lhe current movement in the new wholesale and in the Fiflh Avenue districts; but it may be doubted whether the activity will be either anything unusual or will mean many further advances In prices. On the other hand, while there is not likely to be as much speculation in vacant land and in land with old buildings, there is every prospect that the increasing population and business of Manhattan Island will continue to demand a large amount of new construction, and that the financing of these projects will keep brokers and building loan operators suf¬ ficiently busy. The outlook that is excellent for legitimate build¬ ing enterprises and for the real estate transactions which neces¬ sarily accompany them; but it is not so good for the kind of speculation, of which we have seen so much of late. Indeed, it will be Interesting to observe what direction speculative en¬ ergy will take. There are so many people in New York who have nothing fo do but to trade in real estate that there is a certain danger in a situation which does not provide sufficient opportunities for their activity and capital. They may, that is, be tempted to make opportunities which do not whole¬ somely exist. IT is stated that nominations for the Board of Aldermen are going begging this fall, and that the prominent members of the existing Board are agreed upon the worthlessness of the aldermanic office, now that the Board of Estimate controls the franchises. No one need be surprised that such is the case. The Aldermen have no functions remaining which could not be as well bestowed upon the Borough President, and there is no reason why they should not be entirely abolished. They have become a useless expense. Of course, it is better to have the city pay high for the worthless services of a number of alder¬ men than to have it pay high for aldermanic services which were both worthless and baleful; but why pay at all? The Aldermen have even ceased to value their own services. They have outlived their power of doing evil, and there seems to be no place for them hereafter in the system of New Tork local government. Any important powers gi-anted to them merely constitute an unnecessary check upon the powers of the Board of Estimate. That is the governing board of the city, and its responsibility should not be divided. It is to be hoped that no further attempt will be made to revive the Board of Alder¬ men. Such an attempt was the one egregious mistake of the revised charter, and it would be a good thing to make its com¬ mission more difficult a second time by abolishing the Board entirely. It is only a superstition of local government which keeps it alive. MR, THOMAS W. LAWSON, in attempting to persuade tha people of tbe United States to embark on a gigantic stock speculation for the purpose of destroying the System, "has set himself a task which" is too much even for his con¬ siderable powers. He has undoubtedly been very successful in the past in influeucing public opinion; but the means to that tnd at his disposal are no more sufficient for the job he has undertaken than an army -corps of 25,000 men would be suffi¬ cient to invade the United States. People will not be persuaded into selling good securities because certain prominent finan¬ ciers have used their opportunities for the purpose of making money out of the public, any more than the policy-holders of the Equitable Life will allow their policies to lapse, because the former management of that company conducted its affairs somewhat extravagantly. Business-men, no matter how much they may suspect the existence of financial graft, know that American industrial and railway securities are based upon sound value, and that they themselves would be the chief suf¬ ferers from a general selling movement. Of course, It is un¬ necessary to elaborate any proof of this contention, which must be obvious to everybody; and the effort which Mr. Lawson is making to persuade security-holders to sell their stocks at a sacrifice in the expeotation of buying them back cheap, indi¬ cates that his judgment is failing him, and that would be a pity, because Mr. Lawson is an extremely interesting and sympa¬ thetic figure, even if never an entirely trustworthy financial adviser. He seems to be absolutely sincere, thoroughly well-