THIS book is a part of a general study on legal valuation which is being made under the auspices of the Columbia University Council for Research in the Social Sciences, and under the direction of the editor. It is concerned with one of the most controversial and vital issues of modern economics and law -- the proper valuation of public utility properties for purposes of rate control.
As an economist with a special interest in the new law of property, the editor has long been both impressed and mystified with the way in which the courts have played fast and loose with the concept of value. At times they have used the term precisely as it is defined by the classical economic treatises, to mean market value in the sense of the price at which the owner of any given property could sell it. But at other times they have imported the idea of a fair price or fair value, differing both from actual market value and from the value that an owner of the property would attach to it for his own use. This vague notion of a fair or reasonable value, to which the owner is entitled, or with which he should be content, regardless of the verdict of the market place, crops up in all fields of law and in the most unexpected places. But it culminates in that particular field of law which is the sole topic of this book.
Because the shifts in the legal meaning of value are so varied, so complex, and so seldom made clear by the very judges that do the shifting, the editor asked and received authority from the Columbia University Council for Research to organize an ambitious study of the law of property valuation. Already one volume has been published, "Stock Watering" by Professor David L. Dodd, Columbia University Press, 1930, and twenty odd articles on various aspects of the problem have appeared in the Columbia Law Review and else-