Metals: Elusive Shortage

The worried forecasts of a copper shortage began appearing soon after 37,000 workers went on strike in mid-July at companies producing 90% of the nation's domestic supply. Just before Labor Day, no less an authority than Commerce Secretary Alexander Trowbridge gloomily predicted that it would be only "three to five weeks until we reach rock bottom of our supply." As the walkout dragged through its 14th week, the shortage remained as elusive as a settlement.

Hidden Stockpiles. Government and industry alike profess astonishment at the size of stockpiles in the hands of warehouses and fabricators. "Every time we try...

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