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?