DETROIT (March 8, 2010) — Last week, along with many folks from Detroit, I had a quick trip to Europe with stops in England and Switzerland.
Every year thousands of executives head for Geneva for the motor show, which is the only major annual motor show in Europe.
I was quite surprised at how the economy was just as bad in parts of Europe as the U.S.
We seem to assume that it simply can't get any worse than the U.S., much less in Detroit. Well, it looks like misery loves company.
There was quite a bit of pessimism in Europe, and no one seems to be seeing a robust recovery from the financial crisis of last year. Many of the countries have put in place quite a few financial stimuli that simply don't seem to be working very well, if at all.
The real irony is that as the financial world looks around for stable currency where they can put their money, sooner or later, they seem to always head back to the U.S. dollar, which lately is strengthening against the euro and the English pound.
The problems of countries like Turkey and Greece appear to be diminishing the strength of the euro against other currencies.
Meanwhile, we can argue that a stronger dollar will harm our economy and make it more difficult to see our products outside of the U.S.
Or a stronger dollar will make the U.S. economy stronger and much better in the long run.
I guess if you're selling Boeing aircraft overseas, you'd pick one point of view, and if you're worried about selling our massive U.S. debt, then you'd support the other point of view.
Meanwhile, in spite of a stronger dollar, it's certainly not cheap to travel in Europe. Whether our dollar is weak or strong, it's a very expensive proposition.
It's always interesting to notice the changes, and I can't help but notice that the international business community seems to spend more and more time in the English language. Not to mention that when you are traveling overseas, you're never very much out of touch.
With three or four U.S.-based news organizations offering the news with a U.S. point of view, you're never too far away from home. Add the ever-present e-mails that are being transmitted to your BlackBerry, you might never realize that you happen to be a few thousand miles from your home base.
The business world is working 24 hours a day. Business is always open somewhere. The decisions being made are having an impact on our business.
The world is moving at a rapid pace. And it's not slowing down.
Keith Crain is chairman of Crain Communications Inc. and editor-in-chief of Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business. This column appeared in Crain's Detroit Business magazine.