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Wouter Jacobs

This chapter is about understanding the role that commodity traders play in the world city network. Commodity trade is crucial in shaping economic globalization, both in the form of physical exchange of goods and in the form of financial transactions. Some older geographical thoughts on the role of traders and trade in shaping urban fortunes, most notably the work of James Vance (1970), are presented. These insights are confronted with a detailed overview of the contemporary practices of commodity traders in coordinating global supply chains and transactions, effectively linking various markets and places across time and space. The main hypothesis we induce is that in order for commodity traders to act as global agents they prefer the concentrated agglomeration benefits offered by (world) cities.

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Wouter Jacobs and Bart Kuipers

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Wouter Jacobs and Robert Horster

Commodities are the lifeblood of the world economy. They are shipped globally in enormous quantities in both volume and value. Yet what is often ignored by transport geographers and (maritime) economists alike is the way commodity markets themselves function and how the performance of these markets influences the demand for freight and, as such, the geography of waterborne transportation. In this chapter we argue that the waterborne transportation of commodities is nested in a complex system; one that is defined by price movements and by transactions across manifold agents that engage in some form of risk in the physical supply of essential production inputs. Based upon a complexity perspective on commodities trading, we present an alternative mode of analysis about the functioning of waterborne shipping of commodities in increasingly volatile markets defined according to optionality and risk.

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Leo van den Berg, Wouter Jacobs, Michiel Nijdam and Erwin van Tuijl