SHORTAGES: The Worldwide Squeeze

The pinch on U.S. supplies of grain and beef is only part of a worldwide scarcity of raw materials. For almost every important commodity — meat, wheat, rice, soybeans, wool, cocoa, copper, lead, rubber— world production is falling behind ravenous demand, and hectic bidding for supplies is rocketing prices. A Reuters index of commodity prices leaped 91% in the twelve months ended July 30.

The shortages are tilting international balances of economic power, bringing new prosperity to such exporters of raw materials as Australia, Brazil and Argentina, and fanning inflation in the...

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