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since the business revival at the close of the last decade. Of the eleven years which the Bureau enumeration covers, 1870 shows the largest number, although but little more than that recorded in 1888. From the beginning to the end of the industrial depression in the '70's, there seems to have been a rapid decrease, which has not again occurred since then, except that the effects of the business stagnation of 1882 and following years* are visible in the small rate of increase from 1883 to 1885–-a period which also affected the foreclosure movement, showing a slight increase over the year immediately preceeding and succeeding.
The tendency in periods of business activity has been towards an increase in mortgages and decrease in foreclosures, and the reverse when the industrial conditions have changed; and generally, an increase in foreclosures has been accompanied by a falling off in mortgages. This tendency has been marked in those counties which are largely urban, namely, Camden, Essex, Hudson, Passaic and Union, as well as in those which have considerable urban population, or Bergen, Cumberland, Mercer, Middlesex and Morris,t but not so much in the seven rural countiest, and still less in Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth and Ocean, which may be classed as the seaside localities. This is indicated in the following table, showing the increase (+) or decrease (-) per cent. in foreclosure executions and mortgages, respectively between different periods :
The years 1879, 1880 and 1881, for the United States, were years of abundant crops and great foreign demand, and are generally admitted to have been prosperous; while the years 1882, 1883 and 1884 are regarded as having been years of extreme depression and reaction.'i-Wells, "Recent Economic Changes, '' p. 82.
Morris has a large iron mining industry, and there has been a considerable development of small towns.
*Burlington, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Salem, Somerset, Sussex and Warren.
This table makes a very interesting comparison with the per cent. increase (-/-) or decrease (-) in population (estimated in 1888) and valuation of real estatet for a series of years, is given below. The total population of the State in 1888 has been estimated, on the basis of the school census returns, at 1,351,389; or, urban counties, 740,807; partly urban and rural, 267,549; rural, 229,336; seaside, 113,697. In only the rural counties, taken as a whole, has there been a decrease since 1885, of 6,181 or 3 per cent. If the 'estimate of population for 1888 is correct, six of the seven counties, which have been classed as rural, have declined in population during the past three years, the only exception being Gloucester. From 1880 to 1885, the population of only Hunterdon and Sussex fell off, but the aggregate showed a slight increase. In assessed valuations of real estate, outside of Cape May, there has been a continuous and very great increase since 1875 in the so-called seaside counties, approximating 70 per cent., and even from 1875 to to 1880 this was apparent-a period when the remaining localities generally showed a fall in values, particularly those partly urban and rural. Since then, while there has been more or less variation in the rate of increase, there has been an absolute decline in values only in Cape May, Middlesex and the four rural counties of Hunterdon, Somerset, Sussex and Warren. Taking the rural counties
* Four years inclusive.
+The returns made to the Comptroller have been used. See end of chapter for the figures. data before 1875 were not complete and valueless, and, therefore, have not been used.
as a whole there has been a slight increase, 4 per cent., which, however, is much below that in the rest of the State. The rate of increase from 1885 to 1888, generally, was much less than during the preceding five years. This will be more clearly seen from the following calculations showing the per cent. increase or decrease between the periods stated. These calculations are based on the township assessors' valuations, as returned to the State Comptroller. It is fair to presume that, owing to the natural official conservatism in this respect, these figures do not give fully the true state of affairs; certainly not, if the complaints of the farmers made to the special committee of the State Board of Agriculture are well founded. There is a general protest against over-valuation and high rates. However, the assessors' returns are the only official statements available:
While there has been a decided tendency, in the rural districts as a whole, to a fall in land assessed values as well as to a decease in population since 1880*, not generally observable elsewhere, there has been much less of a decrease in the foreclosure rate than in the counties more or less urban: the decrease in the number of executions issued during the four years from 1885 to 1888 over that during the preceding four years was II per cent. in the seven
*See appendix. In two of the rural counties (Gloucester and Salem) there has been an increase in valuations. So far as population is concerned, the decrease, as a rule, has not been absolute but only relative-the rate of increase having been small compared with the rest of the State.
rural counties ; 31 in the urban, and 19 in the partly urban and rural. On the other hand, the increase in the number of recorded mortgages was smaller in the former than in the latter two classes. This is owing largely, even if not wholly, to the opportunity of borrowing being curtailed, as capitalists are unwilling to lend on farm land, with its decreasing value. This depreciation of agricul. tural real estate is also said to have the effect of lessening the number of mortgaged farm foreclosures, which would otherwise be appreciably larger, there being considerable disinclination to force a sale on a falling market*.
In the so-called seaside localities the conditions prevailing are unlike those in the other parts of the state, owing to the speculative nature of much of the property owned by only temporary residents. There has been a large per cent increase since 1880, in foreclosures and a comparatively small one in the number of mortgages recorded. The ratio of mortgage and foreclosure executions to population and valuation during the past nine years, was large, 207 and 11, respectively, to every 1,000 of population; and 60 and 3, respectively, to every $100,000 of the assessed value of the real estate. Next come the partly rural counties, having a considerable sprinkling of urban population; then the urbari, which however are not far removed from the rural in the ratio of foreclosures and mortgages to valuation and population, respectively, as will be seen from the following table, the valuations (for nine years) being based on the average population and assessed valuation of real estatet from 1880 to 1888 :
*See the correspondence from lawyers, infra. Collated from the Comptroller's annual reports.
FOR EVERY $100,000 FOR EVERY 100 MORT- FOR EVERY 1, 000 POPULA
REAL ESTATE THEIR GAGES THERE WERE TION THRRE WERE
The conclusion to be drawn from what has been stated is, that, other things being equal, the number and nature of the foreclosures, rather than the extent of the mortgage indebtedness, indicates the degree of prosperity of the land owning classes. But even this is not an infallible barometer, for, as in the case of the farming community, the decrease in foreclosures and the comparatively small rate of increase in mortgages on agricultural lands must be credited, largely, to falling land values and the consequent deterrent effect, not only on possible new loans, but particularly on the holders of mortgages to push delinquent mortgagors, because the outcome of a forced sale under the circumstances is likely to be the buying in of the encumbered property by the mortgagees themselves.
Yet foreclosure executions point to the embarrassment of the mortgagors, for a mortgage foreclosure execution is but an other name for bankruptcy and failure, especially in farming. It has been stated recently with some show of authority. I that the per centage of such failures (farming) is much less than that of the business world. So far as the State of New Jersey is concerned, facts hardly warrant this optimistic assertion. The number and amount of mercantile failures in our State, as reported in “Brad
* The number of foreclosure executions to every 100 mortgages, from 1870 to 1888, has been for the whole State: 1870, 3; 1875, 10; 1880, 18; 1881, 12; 1882, 8; 1803, 6; 1884, 7; 1885, 6; 1886, 5; 1887, 4; 1888, 4.
See as to this, the correspondence from lawyers, infra.
See article in Political Science Quarterly, vol. 4, p. 448, on “Farm Mortgages and the Small Fariner."