Business: Hurricane Gambling

In the 18th Century, when Yankee traders were enterprising and sporting, men wagered guineas along New Bedford and Newburyport waterfronts about fulfillment of time-delivery contracts at Calcutta of clipper-ship cargoes. Last week dark-skinned, poly-tongued Manhattan Coffee Exchange brokers—Greek, Christian, Jew alike—bet furiously on West Indian weather. Could Munson Liner Southern Cross get her 50,000 bags of Rio coffee a-dock at Hoboken before the last trading hour of March? The 50,000 bags were bought and sold. If a hurricane delayed them the bags might be near but not at Hoboken, and sellers of them would be "short." Then the buyers could make...

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