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Calculating PromisesThe Emergence of Modern American Contract Doctrine$
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Roy Kreitner

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780804753982

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804753982.001.0001

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“Contracts” for “Futures”

“Contracts” for “Futures”

Commercial Speculation and the Gambling Stigma

(p.105) Six “Contracts” for “Futures”
Calculating Promises
Stanford University Press

A shift in attitudes toward speculation accompanied the transition to a world run by laws of chance. One important aspect of speculation was commodities trading, which is closely tied to contract law. Cases of speculative trading are linked to the development of expectation damages for breach of contract, and of a means to measure expectation (as the difference between contract price and market price at time of delivery). Organized exchanges such as the Chicago Board of Trade played a role in the nationalization of supply and demand in agricultural commodities, but they also provide for speculative transactions. Aside from the theoretical question of subjective or objective accounts of contract, a crucial issue in cases involving commodities futures trading cases is how intent can be determined. Some courts were willing to grant a certain type of privilege to brokers based on the assumption that “reputable brokers” would not enter into agreements that amounted to gambling contracts.

Keywords:   speculation, gambling, brokers, contract, commodities trading, contract law, breach of contract, intent, futures, agricultural commodities

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