John Ransom
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A word to my friends in Washington: As you contemplate all the whiz-bang things that you’re going to do with your new-found tax dollars, please consider an important lesson found in biology.

If you want to successfully feed off the lives of others, don’t kill the host.

Obama may imagine that we don’t have a spending problem, but DC can only rake off so much before we implode.  

Parasites that want to survive, adapt to this truth.  

I was reminded of this as I looked through companies that might struggle in 2013.

According to Professor Edward Altman, an expert on bankruptcy and corporate turnarounds, 2013 is shaping up to be tough for several industries.

Altman, of New York University, hosted the 12th annual Corporate & Sovereign Credit Market Outlook at the Union League Club in January and identified coal companies, media and mid-sized defense contractors as especially vulnerable this year.

From Reuters:

He did not name defense companies he thinks could be bankruptcy candidates, but he said the problems likely would hit smaller firms and that larger ones are not in danger.

In an interview with Reuters after his speech, Altman said the coal industry is expected to continue to suffer as natural gas remains a cheaper energy alternative. One major player in that industry - Patriot Coal Corp - filed for bankruptcy last year, blaming in part the glut of natural gas.

Altman said media companies will also face challenges as specialized online media outlets gain strength.

"The Internet media world is getting very crowded," Altman said in the interview.

And that means tough going for old-media outlets like movie theaters, as internet competitors continue to put price pressure on older distribution chains.

And this is where the music starts, as Mark Twain would say.

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John Ransom

John Ransom is the Finance Editor for Townhall Finance.