Tag Archives: commodities

Get rich quick!

(UPDATED with a few clarifications.)

That headline should attract the right audience for this public service announcement. I’m not going to name names here, but this website gets a huge number of hits and e-mails from people investigating potential business partners. To be clear, I’m not talking about regular people doing serious due diligence — come on down, google away. I’m talking about people with dollar signs in their eyes who are doing a cursory check of the generally unknown person with whom they are about to do a big oil deal. This one was more or less typical, though with better manners and fewer typos than average:

Dear Steven,

I hope my message finds you well.
I came accross your blog while looking for some info about xxxxxxxxxxx, which i could do some business with in the near future.
Do you have some more info you could provide me with in addition to what I found on your website?

Thank you in advance.



The answer to this writer, and to the many other people in similar situations, is that if a deal seems too good to be true, assume it is and call off the deal. If a businessman’s story seems plausible but has no truly independent confirmation, assume it’s false and call off the deal. If an unverified seller asks for money up front, laugh in his face and call off the deal. If a seller tells you what financial instruments to use (listen for terms like MT-103 or irrevocable LOC), assume that they are trying to steal your money and call off the deal.

To keep it very simple, here: If you think your counterparty may be a con man, call off the deal. I have heard enough stories like this one to know that when these deals go south, they go way too far south. Nobody likes to be taken for $10 million. But if you need to rely on asshole bloggers like me to do your due diligence for you because this is the only information you can find about someone, you’ve already answered your own question. Anyone with so little paper trail that you can only find them on this website is probably not a serious businessperson. Of course, there are exceptions. Some people are just private. But trust your gut.

If you have specific concerns or suspicions about someone, of course I’m always happy to hear your thoughts. If you call off a deal based on these basic self-defense tips, I’d love to hear about it — I’m always curious about the sleazy operators and how they get discovered. And if you want to pay me for a due-diligence job, let me know. But the short of it really is very simple. You want to get rich quick? Open a pancake restaurant on the Austral Highway. Don’t do gray-market commodities deals with shady characters.

End of public service announcement.

Reuters goes to the outlaw mines in the middle of nowhere

https://i0.wp.com/blogs.reuters.com/photographers-blog/files/2012/12/PXP17.jpgYeah, read it, really. The pictures alone make it worth the click.

To get to another mine we had to cross a river that was 196ft (60 meters) wide, with water up to the waist. The clearing made by the miners made it look as if someone had taken a bite out of the jungle. Some people were cutting trees while others, several feet below, were blasting away the jungle floor with a high pressure water hose. They were riding the hose as if trying to tame a wild anaconda.

The hose is very dangerous. Its pressure and its metal nozzle turn it into a lethal weapon for the miners who work barefoot, sunk in the mud. There are no doctors or medical assistance anywhere nearby. In recent weeks two miners died here in the morning and their colleagues were only able to recover their bodies by the next morning. Mudslides, snake bites and tropical diseases are frequent.

Chile oil exports soaring

Mmmm oil. (my translation)

A decade ago Chile exported just 9 tons of olive oil a year. Today, by contrast, domestic producers send about 6,650 tons overseas, for more than US$24 million. Growth of more than 1,000% in just 10 years.

Yes, that should be “more than 70,000%” if they really want to toot their own horn, but whatever. Can’t expect them to be able to both produce oil and do basic math.