Back in the second half of 2015, shortly after Saudi Arabia unleashed the (first) OPEC disintegration by flooding the market with oil in hopes of killing US shale (so deja vu… only back then it took it about two years for it to realize its low production costs are no match for the US junk bond market) and when China’s economy briefly collapsed forcing Beijing to devalue its currency and trigger a violent plunge in commodity prices around the globe (so deja vu… only back then the Shanghai Accord of Jan 2016 restored order to the world), traders were looking for ways to short the chaos and one of the favorite trades was to bet on the collapse of commodity merchants such as Glencore, Vitol, Trafigura and Mercuria, whose fates were closely interwoven with the prices of the commodities they traded. As a result, Glencore’s stock price plunged and its CDS soared amid fears the commodity crash cascade would lead to a default wave among anyone with commodity exposure.
Fast forward 5 years when the biggest commodity crash in generations, one which has sent the price of oil tumbling to levels not seen since George H.W. Bush was invading Middle Eastern nations, and… nothing: while the Glencores of the world have indeed dropped, their valuations are nowhere near the late 2015 lows even as the prices of several key commodities have rarely been lower.
That might be changing, however, because the longer global economic activity fails to rebound and the longer commodity prices remain at their current depressed levels, the more the global liquidity crisis will transform into a solvency crisis, hitting some of the most prominent commodity traders in the world… such as Singapore’s iconic oil trader Hin Leong Trading, which according to Bloomberg has appointed advisers to help in talks with banks as some of them freeze credit lines to the firm.
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