COMMODITIES: The Wheat Agreement

In 1949, under the leadership of the U.S., the world's biggest wheat exporter, 46 nations signed the first International Wheat Agreement. A big world surplus was keeping wheat prices low, and it seemed both good international policy and smart business to set fixed prices for world wheat sales. Roughly, the agreement protected importing nations by giving them the right to buy fixed quotas of wheat at a ceiling price of $1.80 a bushel. Exporters were protected by a floor of $1.50 a bushel (later reduced to $1.20). Everybody seemed taken care of.

But the signers of the agreement turned out...

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