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house expenses, and in some cases also credit the steamer with a share of the brokerages they receive, and usually taken by managing owners; and in addition also credit the discounts on the stores, &c., purchased for cash payments. In some other cases the managing owner has been known to take all these for himself. Co-owners in
many other cases are now beginning to insist on the first plan being followed, and that where the managing owner is a broker, he should be made to be content with his manager's commission; or with a fixed allowance, which should be recognised by all the coowners : when this arrangement exists all brokerages are returned, and not given to his firm to back up his business at the expense of his co-owners' profits. Meetings to bring about this kind of management have recently been called in Cumberland, as will be seen by referring to the accounts at length of the meetings reported in the West Cumberland Guardian and Whitehaven Herald of the 18th, 20th, and 27th September last. The broker is, ander such a system, either a broker pure and simple, as he ought to be, or else a shipowner, making the management of ships his business, and being paid a fair remuneration. The outside members of the community who hold shares in ships, are beginning to inquire whether the evil of allowing a managing owner to charge brokerages is not that, being sure of his brokerages, he can afford to consider the interest of the merchants before the interest of his co-owners, and whether he may not be tempted to do so to secure the brokerage business which the merchants can put in his way. It is very difficult for coowners to dispute or inspect the contracts of their manager. Brokers are, in some cases, in the habit of employing others in various trades who have steamers, so as to get a reciprocation.
Some shipbuilders also, by assisting the increase of tonnage beyond the demand, have helped to bring about a depression. Competition among builders has for some years been very great, Clyde versus the Tyne, Wear, Hartlepool, and Stockton, and there are those who think that the East Coast has fairly won the day, though there is no denying the fact that exceptionally wellfinished work is the characteristic of the Clyde. Cargo boats,
however, do not require this. East Coast built steamers earn as much money and give the speed quite as well as do the most finished boats of the Clyde. At the outset of the shipowning mania some builders would not enter into the speculative spirit of the day, and for two or three years were content to secure such orders only as really paid them; but on the heavy fall in iron and the cheapening of wages, to hold their own position they had to take orders which little more than paid the outgoings, or else to take orders at better rates but entailing long dates, sometimes three or four years, for the payment of the instalments of the purchase-money. They were, also, very often compelled to take shares in the steamers themselves to get the ship built at all. This system has, however, not bettered the position of shipping at the present time, whatever it may do for the future, and it has increased tonnage on an ansound basis; moreover, speculators, with next to no means, have, in some instances, become shipowners.
The idea of the parties who began this system of becoming owners was no doubt ingenious, but it is not based on sound commercial principles. The calculations to allow of such arrangements were made some years ago, when freights were high, and were based on the long credit for the payment of the purchase-money of the steamer, as against the ready receipt of the freights. The receipt of the freights allowed working disbursements to be paid, and yielded enough to meet the bills for the instalments of purchase-money without calling on the shareholders; and by settling after every voyage, and paying the co-owners a good percentage on their shares, they were in fands to pay when the amount had to be provided. Hence, in a period when freights were high, little or no money was needed to be found. When, however, any depression sets in, and sailing expenses do not diminish, and heavy expenditure is necessary for repairs, the ship turns out a white elephant, and must so continue until sold, perhaps at a heavy sacrifice, or until the necessary outlay is provided for repairs, or until business rights itself, and yields such a profit as will meet all contingencies, or until a sufficient tonnage is "lost ” to allow of the supply being brought down to the demand. This last desideratum can hardly happen, if the yearly building is
by ansound and abnormal means fostered into more than keeping pace with losses.
There has been a falling off recently of the more sanguine characters, who have had to look losses in the face and make up calls for repairs, and the idea has lately occurred to others of equalising the cost of their steamers built some time back when prices were high, by purchasing the same class of steamers at the lower prices of the day, apportioning the united cost amongst the whole, thus reducing the cost of each individual steamer; and a rush was in some cases made to carry out the idea before iron again went up in price. Large Companies, and Capitalists (who are quite independent of the class of speculators), knowing individually their co-owners as being men of substance and integrity, can now, by putting down sufficient money for the purpose of shipowning as a business, build good steamers which will pay even at at the late low freights. Iron never was cheaper than recently, and may again fall after the recent rise. Wages are likely to keep about where they are at the present time, particularly in shipbuilders' yards, unless a wild and foolish speculation for building arises. There are vessels afloat now, not suitable for all trades, some bad carriers, others of not a desirable model ; the building of new steamers on well-considered plans therefore now gives this advantage, that while the steamer is building, times may go on improving, and by the launching time next year, the best part of the freighting season will be ahead. Steamers built a few years ago at high prices, unless the cost has now been partially written off, and the vessels are in good repair, cannot compete with new ones having the latest improvements, and built and run at a lower cost; as the owners of the former cannot afford to accept the freights which will pay the owners of the latter. This is a serious point for any members of the outside public who own unregistered shares in such ships to bear in mind.
At the present time it is estimated that about 160,000 tons of steamers are being built, of which upwards of 64,000 are on the Clyde. There are, out of this, no doubt, many steamers for existing companies and solid people. At the same time there is doubtless a proportion built on speculation, and though the
publicat pelbasked to subscribe, privately great deal of the capital is obtained from them, without their knowing what an unsound or dangerous investment speculations in such ships may sometimes be. 1877, terwer653 vessels classed in Lloyd's Book, showing 521,523 tons register ; in 1878, 649 vessels, showing 574,819 tons register, and it may be calculated that at the end of this year between 400,000 and 450,000 register tons will have been built and building in England. Within a very recent period, however, a great rush has taken place in the building of steamers, and further money will have to be found outside the present circle of shipowners, who can have no profits to invest, and may have little inclination, if prudent, to start new ventures. We do not say to the outside public that they ought not to invest at all. What we do say is that they should never invest a penny without ascertaining the nature of the ship and the business, and the method adopted in each case as to the registration of ownership and bills of mortgage and sale in the register book at the Custom House. The public must also bear in mind that if the profits in any venture in private ships is represented to be inordinately large, the marvel is that the persons who are willing to place those advantages in the lap of the outside public should be so much more Quixotic than the usual run of business men.
Good management, with of substance towers, with ready money to secure every possible discount, is the only true method to provide against possible losses. Steamers which have their regular trades and are favourites, keep paying their way; 80 do other steamers which are well known and economically managed. Lately, however, even with good management, little has been paid in profit to provide for a reserve fund necessary for insurances, wear and tear, and depreciation. This may be reak for the circularwhichman the owners in the China and Australian trades have just put forward, a combination of Protectionists, although in politics highly Liberal and Free Traders. Through the abundance of steamers, freights kept w, anders who take what offered with a good grace aid in keeping freights down, and
though there is every ground for hope, it requires some time yet to be sure that the shipments to this country will be large nex
Looking at the various trades, it may be said that the shipments for Calcutta have fallen off since the failures in th Eastern Trades, and few or no houses will speculate in freights or this side. At this moment freights for sailing ships have risen and Californian rates are good, but are not likely to continue “Many men, many minds," is peculiarly applicable to shipowners Each acts independently, having his own theories and his ow interests to follow out. Powerful companies like the Peninsula and Oriental, and the Messageries, and those whose steamer regularly leave London and Liverpool, monopolise a larg share of the carrying in the East India and China Trades Calculating the number of voyages of each steamer, th carrying capacity is very large in the aggregate, the size steamers having increased. Add to this aggregate the additiona carrying capacity of what may be called outside steamers, built fo any trade and ready to steam anywhere a demand may arise, tremendous supply is at once at hand, tending to keep freight low, largely in excess of any ordinary demand, for it must b remembered that the telegraph reports the freights each day fror all foreign ports, and merchants can arrange charters by the sam means on this side for their forward or late shipments just as i suits them. It is seldom that a pressing demand arises or continue for steamers in any one port, so that a low rate is generall maintained.
Sailing ships now are under great disadvantages, owing t the Plimsoll agitation and other causes, and have learnt a very sa lesson for the last two years in Calcutta and Bombay from the opposition of steamers and the unremunerative state of the Colonial Market here. The new combination for the Chin Trade and Australian Trade, if it could be carried out in othe trades, would secure both to steamers and merchants a supply and demand suiting everyone, but it is too blissful a state to hope for, and might even become an unbearable monopoly. Th rice trade employs a greater proportion of sailing ships as compare with steamers. English iron ships, and Italian and Norwegia,