“Faceless Intermediaries”: Unveiling the Hidden World of Commodity Brokers Controlling Supply Chains

By Chung Ju-hyung, Reporter at ten@tenspace.co.kr

Alki, the economic management and humanities brand of Sisong Publishing House (led by CEO Yoon Ho-kwon), has recently released “Faceless Intermediaries,” a groundbreaking book delving into the secretive realm of intermediaries who wield significant control over the “raw material” market—a factor underlying supply chain crises, price escalations, and hegemonic struggles.

While Samsung’s semiconductors, displays, and batteries are produced domestically, their raw materials are imported. Similarly, Hyundai’s vehicles are manufactured using imported iron ore and aluminum. But have you ever heard of Glencore, Trafigura, or Vitol? Are the names Ivan Glasenberg and Mark Rich familiar to you? Chances are, they are. Glencore, Trafigura, and Vitol stand as the world’s three largest commodity brokers, with Ivan Glasenberg serving as the CEO of Glencore and Mark Rich as the founder of Glencore’s predecessor, Mark Rich & Co. Rich, often hailed as the “oil king,” is a legendary broker. Behind the scenes, these entities are connected to Samsung and Hyundai.

“Faceless Intermediaries,” a book that delves into the world of commodity brokers and middlemen, has already garnered attention in the media even prior to its Korean release. It is touted as the ‘first-ever’ publication shedding light on commodity brokers and intermediaries as one of the root causes behind supply chain crises, price surges, and even hegemonic power struggles.

Javier Blas and Jack Parsi, esteemed commodity journalists with over 20 years of experience at the Financial Times and Bloomberg News, offer a comprehensive exploration of commodity markets and intermediaries through meticulous investigations, interviews, and analysis of confidential documents. Their work reveals that commodity intermediaries amass substantial profits while operating under the radar, trading through tax havens, and engaging in clandestine dealings with dictatorial regimes.

In “Faceless Intermediaries,” readers are taken on a captivating journey behind the scenes—an exploration of the perilous tightrope walk trodden by commodity brokers, both within legal boundaries and on the fringes of legality, as they traverse the globe in pursuit of wealth and influence. As the true faces of those who hold sway over our lives are exposed, readers will experience a spine-tingling sensation akin to unveiling the enigmatic mastermind in a suspenseful thriller.

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