In November 1985, the Trinidadian-British singer Billy Ocean released his best-known hit, 'When The Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going'. The song may have provided the soundtrack to Michael Douglas vehicle The Jewel of the Nile, but it was an ill-fitting tribute to that winter’s equity markets, then in the middle of an enormous bull run on both sides of the Atlantic. Black Monday, after all, was still two years away.
Given the volatile share price swings of recent months, any claim that investors now find themselves in a bull or bear market could prove both short-lived and partial. But there is no denying that the going is indeed tough for many companies. Several industries remain teetering on the brink, propped up by government or creditor support which could fade away in the coming months.
In the circumstances, it’s worth asking whether corporate events in 2020 might echo Mr Ocean’s adage this time around. For investors, M&A is one key arena in which the tough could soon get going.