STEEL: End in Sight?

The last great shortage—steel—showed unexpected signs of coming to an end. Steel plants piled up their tenth consecutive week of overcapacity production; there was a drop in orders for such essential products as freight cars. Last week the Department of Commerce took official note of the increased supply. It announced that in June it would reduce the amount of steel allocated for essential uses, thus making another 95,000 tons a month available to everyone.

The increased supply brought other changes. The roundabout and expensive conversion deals, through which consumer-goods manufacturers obtained...

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