Wall Street: Plunging in Puts & Calls

To the average investor, put and call options have always ranked as one of the stock market's more unfathomable sideshows. Despite a lingering taint as a game best fit for crapshooters, the option business this year has swelled to unprecedented size in line with both Wall Street's speculative fever and the sharp rise in total trading. Last month the volume of options written so far in 1967 climbed to 16,264,900 shares, eclipsing the old record of 15,418,200 shares for all of 1965.

In today's market, where investors must put up 70% cash to buy stocks, puts and calls have undeniable...

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