• The World for Sale

  • Money, Power and the Traders Who Barter the Earth’s Resources
  • By: Javier Blas, Jack Farchy
  • Narrated by: John Sackville
  • Length: 12 hrs and 4 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (418 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

Meet the traders who supply the world with oil, metal and food - no matter how corrupt, war-torn or famine-stricken the source.

The modern world is built on commodities - from the oil that fuels our cars to the metals that power our smartphones. 

We rarely stop to consider where they come from. But we should.

In The World for Sale, two leading journalists lift the lid on one of the least scrutinised corners of the economy: the workings of the billionaire commodity traders who buy, hoard and sell the earth's resources. 

It is the story of how a handful of swashbuckling businessmen became indispensable cogs in global markets: enabling an enormous expansion in international trade and connecting resource-rich countries - no matter how corrupt or war-torn - with the world's financial centres.

And it is the story of how some traders acquired untold political power, right under the noses of Western regulators and politicians - helping Saddam Hussein to sell his oil, fuelling the Libyan rebel army during the Arab Spring and funnelling cash to Vladimir Putin's Kremlin in spite of strict sanctions.

The result is an eye-opening tour through the wildest frontiers of the global economy, as well as a revelatory guide to how capitalism really works. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2021 Javier Blas and Jack Farchy (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"The definitive, eye-opening story of the most powerful and secretive traders in the world." (Bradley Hope, co-author of Billion Dollar Whale)

"Blas and Farchy shine light on what's long been the financial markets' darkest corner - the crucial, yet underappreciated, role commodity traders play in global finance and geopolitics.... The World for Sale is a fascinating, eye-opening read." (Gregory Zuckerman, author of The Man Who Solved the Market)

"Javier Blas and Jack Farchy deftly peel back the curtain on the amoral swashbucklers of capitalism who trade in commodities.... The World for Sale is a gripping account of how they achieved their stranglehold over the world economy, and their troubling influence on global politics." (Brad Stone, author of The Everything Store)

What listeners say about The World for Sale

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    4 out of 5 stars

Explains a lot!

Interesting look at the history of the commodity traders, including their nefarious dealings with rogue states and other brushes with the law. Explains a lot about the global economy and how the business has evolved from small-ish independent companies to global behemoths, some of which are publicly traded companies or operations within broader financial institutions. Ties in nicely with many of the geopolitical crises over the years, such as the 1970’s oil embargo, the gulf wars, Russian oligarchs, etc.

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outstanding

Very good overview. There are other books that cover similar topics but this one provides more detail in certain subjects. a great read.

4 people found this helpful

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Excellent!

A really insightful perspective on the individuals/firms who shaped the industry—from the early beginnings of rogue traders traveling the globe to secure deals, to the the emergence of industry giants like Glencore and Vitol, It highlights the immense influence these companies wield—and the often unscrupulous ways in which they receive contracts, ensure profit, and navigate through politically sensitive matters, all the while claiming to be apolitical and law-abiding

4 people found this helpful

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Fantastic insight into a huge industry

Could not stop listening! Fantastic book with great facts and holistic view on trading industry.

3 people found this helpful

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A swashbuckling tale of hidden global power brokers

Remarkably well told and incredibly deep insight into the global underpinnings of commodities. A Riveting history and account of the commodity traders influence and power through the decades. Masterfully crafted and brilliant storytelling reveals the true macroeconomic power in global trading - it was impossible to “put down”.

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Well written with historical event

Great book. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Could not put it down. Very detailed and gives a lot of information about the inner works of the commodity traders. I would recommend it to anyone. Hopefully I can find something similar to listen to.

2 people found this helpful

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  • RF
  • 03-15-22

Money and power and shadows

The book was illuminating through the communication of the personal relationships, the methods employed, and the goals: money, power, control, screwing others while maintaining anonymity where possible.

The clean writing was appreciated. The conclusion by some that new traders will be more honorable is pure rubbish as money and power drives many to sidestep kindness, fairness, economic and ecological responsibility, and just follow the desire of their bosses to make money. This operating method is shared by politicians and businessmen so only tighter guidelines and regulatory data and enforcement can curb the dousing of countries people by the monetary flames launched by their governments and the money-first traders described.

The logic that "someone will make the money so why not me" as shown in many episodes (especially Trafigura's dumping of sulfur-laden sludge from mexican in oil west Africa into a trash dump using a shell company) shows the problems of supply chains and regulatory methods.

A book worth reading!

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Very insightful read!

The explanation of the economic power that commodity traders have and how it has been used was insightful.

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Essential reading to understand what makes the world go round

Excellent overview of the world of commodity trading. Great anecdotal stories underpinned by interviews with the key players. It reads like a thriller in places

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one of my most interesting reads of the year

Fascinating history of the commodity traders. Narration was also 10/10, I couldn't stop listening it was so engrossing

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  • KdL
  • 11-17-21

Excellent piece of business journalism

Very good summary of major events in the natural resources sector for anyone who are interested in the topic. I covered the sector for a few years in the past and this book brings back all the good memories and put many entertaining events/anecdotes into perspective. The book didn't explain explicitly but has pointed out many many BIG ESG challenges faced by the sector. Fairly speaking, this is worst sector in each of Environment/Social/Government ranking across the world and this will continue to haunt the space in the near future. The audible version is conducted very well and very gripping. I actually wish the author could write more in each chapter. For those who want to know more about the mining/oil sector, this book will become a must read. Other books I would recommend are Prize, The King of Oil, Cold Steel, Twiggy (about Andrew Forest), Private Emire (ExxonMobil).

12 people found this helpful

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  • Arkhidamos
  • 08-04-21

Utterly amoral, but interesting

The authors explain over and over again the ways that the commodity traders break laws, pollute, dodge tax, circumvent sanctions, finance wars and terrorism, deal with dictators, bribe government officials, subvert democracy and essentially pocket money stolen from the peoples of the world. To this, the authors manage to add comments about the misogynist atmosphere in which commodity trading was born, nourished and grew of age. Yet lacking from the book is any sense of moral repulsion. The authors clearly admire the men (and one woman) that are the epicentre of commodity trading. Swashbuckling, daredevil and other terms are routinely bandied about. The authors are careful to hedge against negative opinions by reassuring us that even if the commodity traders profited to the tune of billions from the skyrocketing cost of food (and thereby from the hunger of those in the developing world), and even if they manipulated the price of commodities to suit themselves, passing nothing extra back to the producers, they didn’t actually cause global food shortages in 2008 or 2010.

Undeniably these are clever people who seized on opportunities invisible to most. Necessary, however? To who? These commodity traders, urbane, cultured and utterly amoral spawn of Hayek and Rand, have blood on their hands. It’s mildly dispiriting that the authors insist, therefore, in writing in sometimes breathless style or hushed tones about their doings. That said, in terms of presenting the history of the development of commodity trading and linking in with the evolution of world history since the collapse of Bretton Woods, this is an incisive and insightful book.

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  • Olubunmi Olajide
  • 04-28-21

Brilliant book!

Equal parts history lesson, and thriller with so much information that reveals a secretive world.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-01-21

Informative

I really enjoyed this book, i found it informative. For me it provides another piece of the jigsaw

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jack Sutcliffe
  • 03-27-21

Wonderful

Without a doubt the best book I’ve listened to during this whole covid period. Top marks to the authors.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Sam MacCuaig
  • 03-10-21

Incredible

This is a phenomenal book from two authors who have managed to get incredible access and know how to write and engaging piece of work.

Can’t recommend highly enough. Rip roaring, shocking, funny and educational. Get this now if you are even slightly interested in the topic

3 people found this helpful

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  • Colin R. Matthews
  • 12-30-21

An eye opener

A very illuminating read that had shown me what has been happening in the background throughout my life and what has been driving some of the events or effects globally without understanding who was pulling strings. Will be interesting to see how the commodity traders take hold of the electric revolution we are going through and also the control of the materials needed for this change.

2 people found this helpful

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  • David Houghton
  • 03-24-21

Excellent

Well written & very insightful
Would recommend to anyone with even the slightest interest in this subject.

2 people found this helpful

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  • DSB
  • 06-05-21

clear and jaw dropping

Great insight into the world of commodity trading. the vast sums of money made and how they have influenced so much power. brilliant

1 person found this helpful

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  • NL
  • 05-24-22

Fab book. Jumps off the page

Great book. Amazing in depth research. And a page turner.

I do so wish the narrator had researched how to pronounce names like BNP Paribas and Trafigura. So irritating.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-26-21

One of the most interesting books I’ve listened too

This book was excellent - from the get go I was engaged and remain hooked right on til the end. Easy to follow and understand.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-14-22

When Skeletons ☠️ Come Out Of The Closet

A well-researched and smoothly presented deep scratch beneath the surface of global commodity trading history, uncovering the efforts of the companies and personalities charged with making the world go around 🌍. Jack and Javier’s book tells the story how profits were achieved buying and selling natural resources and links economics with economies.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-14-21

Compelling

Very compelling storyline and reader is very clear and engaging ! would recommend to anyone interested in finance / politics