Somewhere, John D. Rockefeller is smiling. The billionaire created the Standard Oil empire, then saw the government dismantle the monopoly in a flurry of trust-busting.
Today, a few of the companies that he created are combining once again — first Amoco Corp. and British Petroleum Co. plc (current parent of Rockefeller's old Standard Oil of Ohio unit); and now Exxon Corp. and Mobil Corp.
Oil, refining and natural gas are driving these mergers, but they could reshape the face of the plastics industry. If nothing else, they'll exaggerate the already wide discrepancy in size between the average processor and their typical materials supplier.
Could this signal a return to the Rockefeller days of yore, when a handful of large companies could determine the fate of an entire industry? Let's hope not.