A Giant Among Giants

What the IPO filing did not make clear was just how Glencore, founded four decades ago by Marc Rich, a defiant friend of dictators and spies who later became one of the world’s richest fugitives, achieved this kind of global dominance. The answer — pieced together for this article over a year of reporting that included numerous interviews with past and current Glencore employees and a review of leaked corporate records, dossiers prepared by private investigative firms, court documents, and various international investigations — is at once simpler and far more complicated than it appears. Like all traders, Glencore makes its money at the margins, but Glencore, even more so than its competitors, profits by working in the globe’s most marginal business regions and often, investigators have found, at the margins of what is legal.

The Tale of the Cables

The WikiLeaks cables, in other words, read more compellingly as a kind of literature. True, they don’t exactly evoke Tolstoy, Graham Greene, or even John le Carré. But diplomats are trained to chronicle the same tics and quirks of character that masters of fiction carefully record—and often with the same aim, of penetrating the surface equanimity of the characters they depict in order to win through to some more essential truths about their motivations. There’s a reason, after all, that the fictional world, like the diplomatic one, is governed by plots—and that both fields share a comfort with moral ambiguity and casual deception that you don’t find in most other endeavors.

(Via Arts & Letters Daily)

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