As the first batch of year-end earnings reports came out last week, many a businessman began to worry about profits. It was not that they were too low. The question was: Were they—at least in some companies—going to turn out to be too high?

Despite soaring scrap prices, the steel industry had seldom been fatter. In 1947, U.S. Steel reported, it had netted $126.7 million, the biggest since 1929 ($197.6 million), and 43% above 1946. Three other steel companies (Republic, Youngstown, and Jones & Laughlin) made just about twice as much in 1947...

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