It Can Happen Here

Friday, May 28, 2010
By Paul Martin

Greece’s financial woes are also Europe’s–and ours. Even if they don’t exactly foreshadow an American future of higher taxes and spending cuts–though they very well could–the ripple effect on the global economy will be felt as exports and stock-market portfolios suffer.

By Laurent Belsie

It’s a sign of the fragility of the world economy that the debt problems of Greece, a nation the size of Ohio, can throw global markets into turmoil, cause a run on one of the world’s premier currencies, and call into question the viability of the European Union.

That’s not all. Some see the tremors emanating from Athens as the precursor to a debt earthquake that could engulf much of the developed world.

If Greece today, who will it be tomorrow? Bond markets have already begun to speculate: debt-laden Portugal? Slow-growing Spain? It’s possible the crisis will jump to Britain, Japan, or even to the United States.

The implications of a debt crisis spreading beyond Europe have already rattled stock markets. Here are eight reasons you should be paying attention, too:

1. Because it will impact your neighborhood tool-and-die maker.

The financial crisis has caused the value of the euro to plummet, making it harder for the US and other nations to boost their economies through exports.

As the world’s largest trading bloc, the European Union (EU) represents 7 percent of the world’s consumers but a fifth of world trade. The dramatic fall in the value of its currency thus has major implications.

If the euro doesn’t recover, exports to Europe will fall because they’ll be more expensive relative to goods already made in Europe. Similarly, the US, China, and other nations may find it more difficult to export in general, since competition would intensify with European companies, whose goods and services have suddenly become cheaper.

That doesn’t automatically mean Europe’s slowdown will undercut America’s economic rebound. “Problems in Europe could dent our recovery, but not abort it,” says Barry Eichengreen, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Rest…HERE

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