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"The biggest company you've never heard of."
June 7, 2012 8:52 PM   Subscribe

"A Giant Among Giants[FP]: Glencore -- founded by famous fugitive Marc Rich [Salon] -- has cornered the market on just about everything. Now that it's going public, will its ties to dictators and spies stand up to scrutiny?"

Bill Clinton on the Marc Rich pardons - very previously
posted by the man of twists and turns (19 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Glencore is definitely one of the syndicates of any future cyberpunk dystopia.
posted by wilful at 9:24 PM on June 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


If it's "going public" hasn't already stood up to scrutiny?
posted by spicynuts at 9:26 PM on June 7, 2012


That previously thread introduced me to Marc Rich, right here on Mefi, over 11 years ago. Other places (I think also here on the blue, but I can't find them just now) informed me further, as did reading Metal Men, which was engrossing.

As a supply chain / logistics guy, I am both fascinated and disgusted by Rich. People, including the author of this article, keep referring to him as a "former" corporate fugitive, but as far as I can tell, he still refuses to travel to the US for fear of prosecution, because to do so would imply guilt of that for which he as pardoned. It's pretty black and white in my book, and Clinton is complicit if not much, much worse.

Now that I work in some of the most marginal places in the world - places this article mentions, like Congo for instance, I get to see Glencore's (et. al.) local operations up close and personal. I see their guys landing in their corporate jets, being whisked off to the only $500 / night hotel in Bujumbura, and checking in on the operations of massive mining conglomerates that profit on the not-quite-indentured labor of locals who don't get any kind of benefits (not even medical) past their meager salaries, in a country where the idea of minimum wages doesn't even really exist. In mining you don't get a lot of (small) child labor because its typically heavy-lifting type work, but the lines here as well are very, very blurred.

My soul only finds respite in the firm belief that there is a very extra warm corner of hell being reserved for Rich and his Glencore ilk.
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:33 PM on June 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


BujumburaLubumbashi its so bad they're starting to blend together in my whiskey-addled memory
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:35 PM on June 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


He's not particularly smart. Look at the people responsible for the current global financial crisis. There no suggestion that they will ever be held personally accountable for ruining economies or driving families into bankruptcy. The worst that has happened is that their companies have been fined. Clearly Marc Rich's mistake lay in extracting his money from commodities rather than people.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:48 PM on June 7, 2012


He's not particularly smart.

Disagree. I would think the percentage of self-made billionaires that are not smart would be really, really low.
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:51 PM on June 7, 2012


allkindsoftime, yes, whenever I hear or read about Rich, I have this slight feeling of nausea. BTW, if you were in Lubumbashi, what do you make of "local kid" George Forrest? A smaller operator, for sure, but with interests in both central African mining and small arms ammunition manufacturing, this guy has given a new meaning to the word "synergy"...
posted by Skeptic at 9:51 PM on June 7, 2012


Clearly Marc Rich's mistake lay in extracting his money from commodities rather than people.

A lot of dead people in Africa would disagree with that.
posted by Skeptic at 10:08 PM on June 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Now that I work in some of the most marginal places in the world - places this article mentions, like Congo for instance, I get to see Glencore's (et. al.) local operations up close and personal. I see their guys landing in their corporate jets, being whisked off to the only $500 / night hotel in Bujumbura, and checking in on the operations of massive mining conglomerates that profit on the not-quite-indentured labor of locals who don't get any kind of benefits (not even medical) past their meager salaries, in a country where the idea of minimum wages doesn't even really exist.

I think you're confusing Congo with Wisconsin in 2013.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 10:29 PM on June 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I would think the percentage of self-made billionaires that are not smart would be really, really low.

Really? I find that business success and intelligence don’t seem to have much to do with each other. I’m not saying that all successful business people are stupid, or don’t have any good qualities, just that drive, competitive nature, and other factors are way more essential.
posted by bongo_x at 10:46 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, thanks for the link. I haven't seen FP produce journalism of that calibre for a year at least; reminded me of former days.

I think Glencore is a case study in how multinational companies have effectively "won" globalisation. Government and regulatory bodies have struggled to collaborate or coalesce meaningfully, whilst these behemoths lurch across borders with impunity and an utter lack of transparency. The naked face of global capitalism.

As governments become more co-opted by these huge entities, and squabble amongst themselves against transnational legislation, companies like Glencore - focused, singular, and ruthless in pursuing a simple goal (make more money) are eating them - and us - for breakfast.
posted by smoke at 11:36 PM on June 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


As governments become more co-opted by these huge entities, and squabble amongst themselves against transnational legislation, companies like Glencore - focused, singular, and ruthless in pursuing a simple goal (make more money) are eating them - and us - for breakfast.

The article gives a good example of this: Considering Rich's strong links with Israel, I found it fascinating that Glencore's Russian "gatekeeper" was a former member of the Duma for the violently anti-Semitic party of Vladimir Zhirinovski.

Also fascinating: guess who was Rich's lawyer until 2000? Why, the very honorable Scooter Libby!
posted by Skeptic at 11:52 PM on June 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


will its ties to dictators and spies stand up to scrutiny?"

Everyone else's tend to. Why not Glencore?
posted by Mezentian at 1:11 AM on June 8, 2012


But I do so love Glencore's pansexual spokesperson, Pit Pat.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:00 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


all the hatred and disgust toward Mr Rich is quite valid. Pity there was not much more disgust laid on Clinton for his selling of a pardon. Not that he is alone in selling pardons of course
posted by 2manyusernames at 5:05 AM on June 8, 2012


Still, he's offering the everyday investor a better deal than Facebook.
posted by michaelh at 5:29 AM on June 8, 2012


I would think the percentage of self-made billionaires that are not smart would be really, really low.

Really? Are we confusing smart and evil, because I think both can get you rich in this world. All puns intended. Mark Rich, like so many at the top echelon of wealth, appears to be devoid of any moral fiber and completely dedicated to greed. I hardly find that an indicator of intelligence, simply a williness to do anything to get more money.
posted by petrilli at 7:17 AM on June 8, 2012


No, being merely evil is more likely to land you in jail. To become a bazillionaire like Rich you need evil genius of supervillain proportions.
As for the indignation with his pardon, well, at least some of us were indeed outraged regardless of political inclination. That said, to pretend that his ex-wife's "paltry" political contributions were what decided the pardon is a bit naïve. Rich could cash in a lot of favours in a lot of places to get his pardon.
posted by Skeptic at 7:50 AM on June 8, 2012


Gibson, paging a William Gibson, your next book is here
posted by rossmeissl at 11:01 AM on June 8, 2012


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