As commodity prices continue to fall, bankruptcies among producers and industry consolidation will no doubt accelerate. Suppliers of farm, mining and construction equipment are already troubled. With this onslaught, it's no surprise that Glencore, the huge Swiss company that dominates global commodities markets, lost a third of its value in a single day last week.
Glencore was founded in 1974 by Marc Rich, the commodity trader and U.S. tax fugitive who died in 2013. Initially the firm, called Marc Rich & Co., didn’t own mining assets because Rich believed they were too volatile. He focused instead on commodity trading and eventually turned the company into the world’s largest trading house. Rich tried and failed to corner the zinc market in 1993-94 and was forced to sell 51 percent of the company in a management buyout to a team that included Glencore's current chief executive officer, Ivan Glasenberg.