commodities

“Trying to forecast oil demand, supply and price in today’s market is like trying to paint the wings of an aeroplane in flight. Even if one succeeds in covering the subject, it’s unlikely to be a tidy job.

When Goldman Sachs bought the commodity trading house J Aron in 1981, it also took on Lloyd Blankfein, then a salesman of silver coins. Thirty-two years later, Mr Blankfein is Goldman’s chairman and chief executive and the bank owns, among other commodity assets, some aluminium warehouses near the ailing city of Detroit.

When David Cameron visits Kazakhstan next week to expand trade links with the vast central Asian country, the British prime minister might ponder a recent piece of business. Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation, the Kazakh company that has tarnished the City of London, wants to go private again, angering investors amid a UK Serious Fraud Office inquiry.

Andrew Hill

I confess I didn’t really know who Marc Rich was when the commodities trader’s unexpected pardon from Bill Clinton came through in January 2001. As the FT’s New York bureau chief at the time – and duty reporter that Sunday – I had to find out quickly. It was a tortuous story that will be retold many times in the coming days, following the announcement of his death on Wednesday.

You can read Rich’s official online biography or the less flattering Wikipedia version, both of which, interestingly, are referenced in the formal press release from the Marc Rich group announcing his passing. What strikes me, however, is the effort and money he must have spent over the past decades to ensure his story would be told in a positive way. Read more