Commodity trading - moral values

Hello Wso,

Reading the news regarding commodity trading firms, big oil corporations etc.. it seems normal to breach rules in terms of humans rights, environment and so on. 
During your career as a commodity trader have you ever had to breach any of these rules or bend your moral values ? 
Have you ever seen any of those things happening ? 

Comments (18)

MC_HAMMER, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Anecdotal, but if anything its kind of been the opposite in my experience. Ive worked for ABCD's and each time they've taken the opposite approach. When it comes to something like non-deforested soy or responsibly sourced palm or etc. Its typically been the smaller firms without the competitive advantage that take the "risk" in ethically bending the rules on certifications and traceability. For the bigger guys its seemed like they have the reputation for quality that they don't want to tarnish or risk a frivolous lawsuit. 

asdfg123456, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for the reply. How do you explain all the scandals of these companies ? Maybe it was a different market 5/10 years ago ? 

MC_HAMMER, what's your opinion? Comment below:

A lot of these scandals aren't really scandals. a few years ago an NGO no one had ever heard of with an agenda released a clickbait-y title "Cargill the Worst Company in the World" it was the furthest thing from objective journalism. They just see big private company that makes a lot of money = evil and American company control business in SE Asia/Africa = colonialism. The bigger companies are just lightning rods for complaints about an industry they know nothing about since they've heard of the names of the big names. For X many complaints about Trafigura or Glencore, you see 10X about Shell or BP. Better the devil you know than the devil you don't. 

  • Junior Trader in S&T - Comm

Former boss worked for Trafi during '06 Ivory Coast scandal, still regrets it.  People today at these firms understand the repercussions and it's extremely rare.  Most of the amoral stories are from the past.

  • 1
  • Junior Trader in S&T - Comm

Yeah worst part is he was working through Christmas of '05 and missed his daughter's wedding.  

Most Helpful

Truly, if this is such a concern to you that you need to ask this question you are better off to avoid the industry all together. While you may never directly come across a situation to deal with your morals you are going to hear about a lot of people who are in the "gray zone" who are very successful.

There is no nice guys in this industry even the best morally fair traders at Enron (leaders of our industry today a lot of them) are absolute killers when it comes to true trading. Truly "morals" are also subjective and again this is why this is a silly question.

End of the day the world needs supply chains and commodities but this is no different than someone saying they cannot work on a structuring desk cause those guys sold subprime dog shit. 

asdfg123456, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Understood and thanks for your reply. What you mean by grey area ? Do you have some examples ? 

  • Junior Trader in S&T - Comm

In your original post you mention human rights and environment but don't think that's what the poster is addressing.  Truth is in most careers you will eventually have to step on people's throats, but in trading it happens regularly.  That's not to say all the time will commodity traders be out there to screw over counterparts but there are times when you will have to stand your ground and fight for the scraps, at the expense of others.

GoodBread, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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