Metals: Copper's Problem

War gobbles copper, and so does prosperity. In the U.S., 13% of copper production is now reserved for Viet Nam military needs. At the same time, demand for color TV sets, appliances and cars has helped boost consumption 17% this year to a rate of 2,344,000 tons, nearly half of the metal's world output. With Europe and Japan also using more copper, the extra demand has come too fast to be met by producers plagued by strikes in Chile and by tensions between white Rhodesia and black Zambia.

The result is a world copper shortage and strong upward push on...