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Europe. The increase in the values of the country and in the world that the owners of principal stocks on the market since Novem- billions of it were content to invest it in ber has aggregated an almost incalculable securities at a price that will yield only 2, or sum, which must be expressed in billions. 3, or at most 4 per cent.
This increase in values is not all nor per But all this buying has not been for investhaps mainly fictitious. Very much of it is ment. Much of it has been to secure the real and is likely to be permanent. There are control of properties for consolidation with at least two reasons for an increase of real other properties; and most of it has been values—the assured establishment of the gold sheer speculation provoked by the activity of standard, and the consolidation of competing the market. For the moment money is corporations. Now for the first time since abundant, and confidence is great. . A man the Civil War all fear of possible change of with any credit can borrow easily. Now the our currency standard is utterly gone from part of all this stock-buying that is done for the public mind. And an interesting measure purely speculative purposes—done with money is thus given of the incalculable loss and of the that men expect to put back into productive serious retarding of our progress caused by the uses as soon as they are done speculating, or long agitation of the greenbackers, the silver with money that has been borrowed-this men and the whole brood of currency-infla much of it is on a false basis; and for this tionists. But for them we might have reached much of it a day of reckoning is bound to a period of somewhat similar prosperity years come. Damage is wrought to character as ago.
soon as men begin to feel that there is a The other reason why much of this increase shorter road to riches than the honest proof values is real is the consolidation of hitherto duction of wealth. To rush into Wall Street competing companies. If competition be to speculate or to send money there purely eliminated or reduced and the issue of stock for speculation instead of employing it in be fair and the management good, the saving productive ways—this makes for demoralizaof waste ought to increase their earnings. tion both of values and of character. The
Many of our great railway securities—of extent to which this abnormal activity is deroads that have been long established and are moralizing—we shall know later ; but nothing well managed—have for a long time been kept is more certain than that we shall know in at prices lower than their real value. A stock due time. that is secure and that pays 6 per cent. must
But it will be an interesting experience for rise, so long as capital remains as abundant many a man to recall on a quieter and wiser as it is, to 150 or even to 200—that is to a day—how men (and women too) came to New 4 per cent, or a 3 per cent. income-yielding York in such numbers as to overcrowd the basis. But there is no power on earth that hotels, all to trade in stocks; how Wall Street can long hold the price of any property
was filled with a mob; how the brokers and higher than its earning capacity warrants. their clerks were utterly exhausted; how a
Fortunately the era of wrecking and of seat in the Stock Exchange sold for $70,000; reckless gambling in great properties is and how some great fortunes were made in a passed. But there is still danger that inci- day; and how life at last swung back to dental and insufficient reasons will cause a too
routine work with health, and every body rapid rise in stocks of insecure value. When thanked Heaven that the fever was past. all the world is rushing pell-mell into Wall Street, that is a good time for careful investors
SAVING IS HARDER THAN EARNING to calculate the earning capacity of what they
ND it is not in Wall Street only that we buy very conservatively.
are paying the penalty of undue ex
citement over our good fortune, and are runTHE PENALTY OF PROSPERITY
ning the risk of losing our calmness. In UCH unprecented stock-trading will cause Texas the continued discovery of oil is thoughtful men to reflect. If these se
If these se- suddenly enriching many men-good fortune curities were all bought as investments and this, surely; but in the feverish organization should be permanently held as investments, of corporations in Texas of all states in the no harm could follow. This would mean sim Union !) some men will not only lose money ply that there is so much money in the but will suffer economic demoralization.
There are symptoms, too, of land-booms in man of sturdy thrift and of productive enthe Northwest, because of the rush of many ergy is worth more in money as well as in settlers. These are the penalties of pros character to a community than a dozen rich perity—expériences that put to the severest adventurers. And, after all, the great mass test the sturdy qualities of the people.
of sturdy people have read about the exciteThere seems no reason to fear that the ment, have smiled, and gone on with their foundations of our prosperity will be shaken, work. Great as the number of the excited but nothing is more certain than the loss by seems to have been, relatively it was very many individuals of savings that were hard- small—perhaps one-half of one per cent. The earned. The faculty of saving money is astonishing thing about any epidemic is how much rarer than the faculty of making it, and few victims it finds, not how many. it calls for the exercise of a higher degree of good judgment and of more self-restraint. IS THE SOLID SOUTH TO YIELD AT LAST? In a word, it requires more character.
ORLD-WIDE economic revolutions
have taken place, Asia has been A GAMBLING EPIDEMIC
opened to Western trade, Africa has been HE gambling instinct in a large part of partitioned, Egypt has been reclaimed, and
the population has been thoroughly dynasties, ministries and policies have changed, aroused. Woman have gone wild with ex since the talk began about splitting the solid citement; clerks and even messenger boys South; but it was as solid in 1900 for Bryan have staked their earnings or their borrowings; as it was in 1868 for Seymour. Grant tried and the sensational newspapers have been to break it by appointing Longstreet to an publishing the winnings of chorus girls and important office; Hayes tried it by appointing of head waiters. You have read the story of Key; Mahone tried it—there has not been a the butler who, overhearing the conversation Republican administration since the civil war of his master and his guests at dinner, staked that did not try it. all his savings next day and made $14,000. The reason given for the failure of every All through the West and parts of the South effort has been the fear of Negro domination. small shop-keepers and the whole army of But now there are two new forces at work. clerks have besieged the local brokers' offices; The mass of Negroe's have been disfranchised and orders came in to Wall street in such a in many of the states, and soon will be in rush as to cause the physical collapse of the more, and the full flood of industrial prosstock-exchange. The New York brokers perity is now having effect. An increasing simply could not keep up with the business. number of men hold fast to the gold standard There were hours when a million dollars worth and believe in expansion. Senator McLaurin of stocks were sold
of South Carolina, therefore, has a better In the Texas oil region there has been a chance to divide the whites in his state than simultaneous excitement. New companies any man has had before for thirty years, have been formed as if by contagion, and and his practical defection from the Demoevery part of the population has been gam- cratic party has secured the help of the Adbling in lands and in shares. Fortunes have ministration in encouraging the growth of a been made there too_fortunes little or big respectable white Republican party in South have been picked up in every part of the land; Carolina. President McKinley has appointed and the foundation has been laid for a large two Gold-Democrats to important positions in crop of failures in the future—not bank- that state—Mr. John G. Capers to be United ruptcies that will seriously affect the business States District Attorney, and Mr. W. G. of the country, but failures of individuals who Chaffee to be Postmaster at Aiken—both mistook gambling for thrift and neglected the against the advice of the old Republican homely lessons of careful management. leaders there, and it is predicted in South
The damage done to youthful character and Carolina that both these men will, with to the character of those who are economically Senator McLaurin, permanently separate weakest lessens the resources of the nation themselves from the Democratic partymore than the rise in values seems to add to certainly if it hold to silver coinage and it ; for the real resource of the nation is the anti-expansion. economic sanity of the whole people. One It is noteworthy that Senator McLaurin is