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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The collapse of the mega-merger between Fiat-Chrysler and Renault was the latest piece of bad news for lawyers, advisers and other middlemen who make their living brokering corporate tie-ups.
Why it matters: M&A's slowdown this year has been particularly bad for deals involving companies based in different countries, and shows another way globalization's retreat is draining revenue, even from fast-growing segments of the economy.
What's happening: The size of the M&A market rose to a record $4.1 trillion in 2018, but the numbers have fallen significantly this year. The number of global M&A deals at this point in the year is the lowest since 2005 and the value of cross-border deals is the lowest since 2010, data provided to Axios by Dealogic shows.
What they're saying: The souring environment and increasing government intervention is not making it easy for businesses to close deals, particularly in the U.S., Joele Frank, founder and managing partner of investor relations firm Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher, said this week at the Bloomberg Invest conference.
Yes, but: Despite the lugubrious pace so far, dealmakers remain optimistic. Panelists at Bloomberg Invest's M&A summit largely agreed the second half of the year would bring more deals, as private equity firms still have substantial dry powder available.
The last word: "I'm not ready to write it off as yet," said Anu Aiyengar, head of North American M&A at JPMorgan. "But I do see the difference in regional trends, sectors and the size of deals."
There have only been 9 mega deals this year that reached $10 billion or more in value, notes Mergemarket in its 2019 global M&A report. In 2018, there were 14 at this point, and the year finished with a total of 30.
In an analysis this week, the World Bank lowered its global growth projection to 2.6% for 2019, down 0.3 percentage points from January's estimate. It also lowered the U.S. growth forecast to 2.5% and 1.7% in 2020.
Watch this space:
Gold prices rose to their highest since Feb. 1 this week, thanks to global growth fears and more trade war uncertainty. Those fears sent crude oil prices in the opposite direction. After rising more than 30% for the year in April, oil has now entered a bear market, down 20% from its highs.
The dollar has been one of the strongest currencies in the world this year, but over the past 2 weeks it has reversed course. The greenback has slumped to near its lowest level since mid-April against a basket of currencies that measure its strength, and its weakest against the Japanese yen in 6 months.
While some consolidation is to be expected after such a strong performance to start the year, Kathryn Kaminski, chief research strategist at alternative investment manager AlphaSimplex, says the dollar's recent weakness may be telling a bigger story about the market's view of the U.S. economy.
"The strong dollar has been thematic since last April and this last week we’ve seen some of the first weakness of the dollar against the euro, which was pretty aggressive. Why that's interesting is because it could be first indicator that what's going on with China and trade actually will affect the dollar and that growth expectations might be lower going forward, even though they were good up to now.
"I'm watching that because we've really seen such a strong dollar, and if you think about the dollar relative to other economies all over the world, the U.S. has been so much stronger. What this indicates to some extent is that there is an impact of trade and tariffs."
In a story Wednesday about Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, Gizmodo incorrectly reported that the company's Questcor offshoot had raised prices on a medication that reduces seizures in infants by more than 100,000%, when it had actually increased prices by just under 100,000%.
Background: Mallinckrodt agreed to pay $15.4 million as part of a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department as a result of an investigation that found Questcor representatives had bribed doctors to prescribe its drugs.
Mallinckrodt's other correction: The company's stock has fallen below $9 a share, dropping 43% year to date, as investors worry about increasing interest from DOJ and greater potential fallout from the Questcor suit.