Commodities: Cure for Coffee

Among world commodities, coffee ranks second only to oil in export value —and until recently it placed No. 1 in unmanageability. A mere 10-per-lb. price fluctuation means $50 million to the producing countries. In Latin America, where many countries rely on the bean for 45% or more of their export earnings, wild price swings have been known to break treasuries and trigger political upheaval. Yet increasingly, thanks to the U.S. inspired International Coffee Organization, the world's coffee fits are being confined to the conference table.

Taking the Lead. Representatives of the 61 I.C.O....

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