COMMODITIES: Elastic Profits

In the world rubber market, there had not been such a chance in years to make a fast buck—nor so many speculators trying to make it. Natural rubber began getting scarce last winter just as booming auto production stepped up the demand for tires. Synthetic rubber production slumped as the coal strike cut the supply of styrene, a vital coal-tar derivative.

As natural rubber prices rose, Indonesian growers hoarded their rubber; they not only distrusted their drastically devalued native currency (TIME, March 27), but they thought the price of rubber might go even higher. It did. Natural rubber bounced from...

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