During this economic crisis many have wondered whether or not there will be any choices left for the stock investor and the consumer. Many firms have closed their doors. Most others are downsizing in an attempt to weather the storm which is not yet over. Those that are left, especially in the financial markets, have already been taken over or will be a merger target in the future as money starts to loosen up. Does this mean that competition will be gone as we know it, and what are the implications if it does?
The short answer, the one that many fear, is that “yes”, we may see some current options disappear. The auto industry is a very good example. Many lines of General Motors are now gone or will be shortly. Chrysler dumped one entire line already and will drop many models to cut expenses. Other industries are closing branches and offices and even local banks may disappear from the landscape in an effort to stop the bleeding. One could therefore make the argument that we could see a few large players at the top concentrating the power and resources in the hands of a few – the same scenario only magnified as to what could have been the cause of this calamity in the first place. Only time will tell if government bailouts and takeovers prove to have been the wise choice. Already this week there has been a couple of major developments – Kraft has made a play for Cadbury, and the possible merger of T-Mobile and Orange.
Those that feel this way may not be seeing the bigger picture however, and are concentrating on the misery of a few or a single industry or locale. While there are many businesses going the way of the dinosaur or cutting until it hurts, history has shown that out of pain comes gain for someone else. Go back to the auto industry. GM has sold, or will complete the deal shortly, its Saturn line. During a time or restructuring there may yet be some pain to be felt but the end result will be a new auto line without ties to GM; a new opportunity and a new player. GM is also coming under pressure to deal with its Opel operation, which now looks likely to be sold. At the same time we are seeing world markets that are emerging with all sorts of possibilities. Brazil is just one of them. Its market is growing, exports are strong and those with a worldwide view to investing are now already cashing in on smart options.
The real answer to our question lies in your perspective. If you are a laborer in a small industrial community it probably means that your future choices are limited. Downsizing, if not total closure, has probably already put a crimp on your options. It is not likely that the small, out of the way community will be able to bounce back any time soon.
But if you are an investor in the markets you may very well be on the cusp of huge possibilities if you are ready to look outside the traditional market “box”. Emerging markets are full of opportunities already and who knows where the next big boom will come when money flows are opened up. After a crash there are always new startup industries that build the better, proverbial mouse trap. As long as there is an entrepreneurial spirit alive somewhere in the world competition will be alive and well. The smart investor just needs to widen his or her view to be able to find it.