Business, Finance & Economics

Effect of financial strain abroad

Unpublished

Laura Lynch in London: This man is surrounded by produce and customers and he says his customers are worried and have been spending less. (In that context, are you and your customers paying attention to what's happening in the U.S.?) What happens in the U.S. directly affects what happens here. the arguments in Washington aren't soothing nerves here, nerves already jangled by a steady stream of bad financial news in London. The grocer says American politicians have to sort this out. In Barcelona this is Gerry Hadden: At this deli, you can buy odd products and delicacies from around the world. They carry American foods which are common in the U.S. but rare here. the owner knows about the Bush administration's bail-out plan and that without a bailout the whole world is going to suffer. She says she's not so sure about that last fact and she doesn't know which politicians to trust. She says the sense of crisis has been spread so much that people are spending less. Christmas is when she does most of her business and she's worried that people will buy less during the Holidays. Part of what keeps her optimistic is that her products come from all over the world and such diversification could serve as a bulwark against future calamities and colossal taxpayer bailouts. This is Nancy Greenlease at a bar in Rome: office workers and tourists crowd this cafe and the U.S. financial crisis here is a big talk. Italy is already struggling with the third largest debt in the world, a high cost of living, and generally low wages. The bartender is worried this financial crisis will affect Italy in one of its biggest industries, tourism. Italy is built on small business and many people have long thought the country's conservative economic approach stifles innovation. But the bartender says this time it may be Italy's salvation. She predicts the crisis will first hurt small businesses but everyone needs to eat she says and get their coffee. In Seoul this is Jason Strothers. South Korea was bracing for the worst but so far it hasn't seen significant damage to its export-driven economy. Still this small business owner could be affected by the crunch. He exports to the U.S. he says his 2008 orders were set well before the credit crunch but next year will be a bigger question. He says South Korea is not as dependent on the American market as it was in the past, but if other regional powers like China start to go down, that could come back to South Korea. Still others see opportunities on America's economic trouble, just as the U.S. did during the Asian economic crises a decade ago. This business owner says Americans will get through these tough times.

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