Uhler says MWH probably hasn't made a deal because of the euro, but
that the euro has made the company feel better about those it has
made. "We can go into Italy and know that our profit margins won't
be eaten up immediately if the lira sinks," he says. "It allows us
to make bets on things we can control, like the company, rather
than exchange rates, which we can't."
It's difficult to get exact numbers, but the sense among those
involved is that exports have increased not only between countries
in the euro zone, but with the Americas and Asia as well. Tariff
disputes between the U.S. and the European Union and the global
economic slowdown have further clouded the picture, but the
impression is that the recession in parts of Europe might be worse
without the euro.
"It's amazing how much more my comfort zone has increased in doing
business in Europe," says Debbie Lombard, the director of
international sales for Torrance, California's Anchor Audio, a
multimillion dollar manufacturer of portable sound equipment. "Now,
when I talk to a customer at a trade show, I know what's going on
and I don't have to try to convert their currency in my head."
ON THE HORIZON
What isn't as certain is how well the euro will continue to work.
So far, it has not been forced to deal with a serious political or
economic crisis in Europe, for instance, the 1973 Arab oil embargo.
The trials of the past four years have not affected Europe as
deeply as they have the United States. But what happens if a member
government or economy collapses, dragging the value of the euro
down with it? Will the other member governments sit idly by?