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The Secret Club That Runs the World: Inside the Fraternity of Commodity Traders Hardcover – June 3, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover; First Edition edition (June 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591845467
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591845461
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #411,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Hedging the risk of investing in commodities used to be the fairly dull province of a few brokers and traders on one side of a transaction and farmers and end users of crude oil, copper, and pork bellies on the other. But the great commodities boom of the early 2000s attracted flamboyant risk-takers, whose transactions ultimately produced wild swings in prices on gasoline, food, and other essentials and prompted regulators to try to crack down. CNBC market reporter Kelly (Street Fighters, 2009) unveils the secretive world of unregulated hedge funds, of banks and brokers who trade for their own accounts often against the interests of their customers. With exclusive access to the major players in the commodities market, Kelly offers fascinating portraits of huge egos and details of byzantine deals, including a massive merger aided by former UK prime minister Tony Blair. Among her subjects are a fuel trader whose trades saved a sagging Delta Air Lines and a trader at a Swiss commodities firm founded by American fugitive Marc Rich. This is an absorbing inside look at the shady world of multinational brokers. --Vanessa Bush

Review

Praise for Kate Kelly’s New York Times Bestseller Street Fighters:

“It overstates nothing to call Kelly’s book brilliantly reported, and her narrative is grippingly propulsive and peopled with fascinatingly drawn characters.”
Los Angeles Times

“The twists and turns of those frantic few days make for lively reading.”
The New York Times

“Kelly takes us inside Bear’s last, dizzying days. . . .The real draw is the book’s surgical detail.”
Time

“There’s so much to like in this book—lively anecdotes, crisp pacing, and brevity . . . a highly accessible narrative for the general reader.”
Bloomberg News

Customer Reviews

Well written and very informative.
Pushkala
It is an astounding feat to write a book about commodities traders that is not only interesting, but a great read.
C Duhigg
The good thing about the book is there are a few stories/names I hadn't heard of that I got to hear about.
Tariq Albazzaz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Oil_Trader on June 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover
It was interesting to learn a bit about the key players in the commodities markets. The author Kate Kelly made a nice selection of people coming from banks, hedge funds, trading firms and corporate hedgers. She could have done a much better job though. She went into the usual clichés that she thinks the public wants to hear, while she had the opportunity to write something truly interesting and educative to readers. She over simplifies many things and exaggerates on many points. She could have taken the opportunity to educate the general public about commodities trading but instead she's just pandering to stereotypes and serving over-simplifications.

How could one have a $8billion crude oil position, oil prices moving down 15% in a week, and the hedge fund manager losing “only” $500mil. Her description would imply a $1.2billion loss. Clearly it shows that she overstated positions to make it more dramatic. Or she probably doesn’t understand that the leverage was coming from options and not only from futures. Also as if a commodities hedge fund would borrow from banks! Clearly they don’t, they can get added exposure from futures and options that have embedded leverage, and they always have a very high cash balance.

It shows she doesn’t master her subject and has a very poor understanding of high finance. And then she goes on to push for more regulation in those markets. But the commodities markets have barely moved for 5 years now! Is that also the fault of speculators? The bull run in oil prices in 2007-2008 actually is the reason why US shale oil production is what it is now and growing at such a pace. The oil bull run actually saved the US economy and the world economy.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Charlie Harig on July 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kate Kelly took on a large task in attempting to piece together the world of commodities trading from scratch. This is noble of her, but my compliments related to this book end here.
Overall, this was a very superficial glance at the commodities space. Rather than explain any inner-workings of the industry, Kelly just describes a few average bios of traders. This isn't necessarily bad (see: Market Wizards), but the bios themselves seemed contrived and were often uninteresting/unimportant (why was Fan even mentioned in this book? Because of her gender?). There are plenty of "ooey-gooey" stories out there amongst commodities traders, but Kelly only really touches on one of them (Marc Rich).
The few "details" about commodities trading that Kelly does go into are both cursory and inaccurate at times (contango/backwardation). We are given very broad views of trading strategies and only really ever learn the market direction that a trader was taking. That being said, the reader will surely finish this book knowing that an option is the "right to buy/sell" as opposed to an obligation, since Kate Kelly must mention this line 5+ times throughout the book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By FONG W. Chi Wai on August 8, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Author spending too much time and detail on regulatory issues and personnel. Quite boring.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jedrury VINE VOICE on June 12, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a book written by a CNBC journalist and it reads like a book written by a CNBC journalist. Large parts of this story are informative and helpful in understanding the business of commodities and trading. It is fine journalism in parts.

However, the author gets distracted by the riches of the commodity traders, their cars, wives, weddings, their "bling," allowing her story to slide into a fly over, glamor reportage about this complex business. Ms. Kelly's wide ranging summary of the business includes the Glencore/Xstrata merger, the personalities, but provides little depth on the minutiae of the trading mechanisms unlike Barbara Dreyfuss' "Hedge Hogs" which deals exclusively with one product: natural gas.

Kelly's helter skelter approach is about crude oil, indexes, jet fuel and personalities and feuds. Her chapter on Delta Airlines and its purchase of an oil refiner in Pennsylvania is informative providing background not read elsewhere. Fixated on CFTC regulation and its former chairman, Gary Gensler and one other commissioner, she champions government regulation. In her chapter "The Reformer," she extols its chief of enforcement, a "trim, antsy father of two teenagers;" seemingly overjoyed on the pelts of miscreants on his wall. Does the reader need to read that he is "antsy?" She writes about a young female trader at Morgan Stanley whose inclusion in the book is needless. One wonders why this is relevant to the story line. This is an ambitious book; perhaps too ambitious in scope and undisciplined in composition.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brian West on June 12, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was a quick enjoyable read. However, like a spate of other recent business books that have come out, this book reads more like a series magazine articles/profiles that have been compiled about the people discussed in its contents than an examination of commodities markets, the trading houses, etc.

Having just been reading Yergin's "The Prize" before taking up this book, and after seriously enjoyed the Markets Wizard series for some time now, I guess I Was expecting something more like "the Partnership" or "the Last Tycoons" but concerning Vitol, Trafigura, Mercuria, et al. Glencore is discussed by the coverage and development oft he storyline seems lacking.
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