World Trade: Trouble on the Plantations

War or the threat of it normally booms the prices of commodities—the raw materials of tomorrow's meals and manufactures. Last week, however, the world prices of such "soft" commodities as coffee, wool and sugar fell, and prices of such "hard" military sinews as copper, tin and lead barely responded to Lyndon Johnson's decision to increase the U.S. commitment in Viet Nam.

Commodity traders thereby signaled their belief that no shortages threaten. While U.S. food prices have been rising (see U.S. BUSINESS), the international markets for food and fibers are so glutted that many prices have been falling sharply for 41...

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