Finally, there is a Bonus share or stock which does not represent accumulation out of vast profits or issues of new shares at a premium, and does not involve a bonus by the sale to existing shareholders at a price below the terms which could be got in the market, but is at first sight pure water, representing merely possibilities, perhapses, and potentialities. This kind of Bonus share is chiefly known on the other side of the Atlantic, and is usually damned with bell, book and candle by purists among English financial critics. We say on this side of the water that every pound of an English well-financed company represents a pound which has actually been spent and put into tangible assets which help the company to earn profits. This boast is by no means true, since nearly all industrial companies come into being with something paid for in the shape of goodwill, which is of enormous importance, but can hardly be called a tangible asset; and even in the case of our railway companies, many millions of original capital went into Parliamentary and legal expenses, which have been, in one sense, dead capital ever since, though without this expenditure the railways could never have got to work. The American system of Common shares, representing what appears to be water, is only a modification of what every company has to do, in one form or another, on this side or anywhere in the world. Wherever an existing business is bought out something has to be given over and above the old iron value of the concern for the value of the connection and other intangible assets. Wherever an entirely new industry is started it has to meet certain initial expenses. It has to placate, to use the unpleasant American word, various interests in order to get to work, or it has to lay out money, in building up a concern by advertising or otherwise. It is impossible that every penny which is put into it will go into actual buildings, plant, machinery, and stock-in-trade.
In America the system has been preferred by which the actual tangible assets of a new concern are financed wholly or largely by issues of bonds or Preferred stock, and the Common stock is given away to those interested in the promotion, for them either to hold or to use in order to secure the co-operation of those who may be useful, or modify the opposition of those who may be dangerous. The net result of it is that the Common stock is represented in fact by goodwill or the power to get to work. If the company prospers, then it is the business of those who hold these Common shares to see that assets are accumulated out of profits, to be held against their Common stock, so squeezing the water out of it and making it good. The system thus possesses this very considerable advantage, that those who promote a company are interested in its future welfare, and watch over it and guide it through its subsequent existence, putting energy and good management at its disposal in order that the paper which they