Main Street can feel pretty far away from, say, the piazzas of Rome and the platias of Athens. But the recent political and economic turmoil in Italy, Greece and elsewhere across Europe has shaken global markets -- and the aftershocks are eventually felt right back here at home.
For better or worse -- and there are cases to be made for both -- the world is indeed becoming flatter and more interconnected. Which is great during boom times, providing a huge potential market that simply wasn't possible to reach just a generation ago. Problem is, in the financial markets and beyond, trouble can spread much more quickly as a result.
Entrepreneurs in general are wise to keep a close eye on global news and trends, even if they still do all of their business in the good ol' US of A, because the reality is that at least something in your supply chain inevitably comes from somewhere else these days. And for entrepreneurs that already do direct business overseas in some capacity, you're probably already feeling it.
From revised investment strategies to a drop in customer demand, the members of our Board of Directors are doing just that. So we asked them to weigh in the unfolding crises in Europe -- and what it means for their businesses.
Founder and CEO, Greenleaf Book Group
"The crisis is a big threat -- don't mistake the damage this can do. Greece's economy is tiny, and Italy is small, but leverage makes default incredibly dangerous. A hiccup in Europe can create havoc here, so it causes great concern. As with any crisis, there is both threat an opportunity. Right now, we should all protect ourselves in case the storm is strong."
Danielle and Jodie Snyder
"The Sniper And Lil' Snipes"
"Within the last year and a half, we've significantly grown our European presence. The European economic crisis is definitely concerning, as we're in a global market, and the crisis has weakened confidence in spending abroad. Fashion in particular is an international business and Italy is one of the most influential countries in the game."
Founder and CEO, Nfinity
"The economic crisis in Italy and Europe in general doesn't affect us at directly at Nfinity, but like all other Americans in our global economy, we do feel the sting."
Phil TownInvestor and Author of Rule #1 And Payback Time
"I'm an investor with long-term positions in U.S. and European companies. I've tried to structure my investment choices to be those businesses that will do OK even if southern Europe falls apart, even if Europe itself goes into a depression. That means I am not funding businesses that are exposed to European consumers or European debt. If others are like me, that can't be good for those businesses. Also, the failure of Italy to be able to roll over its debt is like a roadmap of our future. We can borrow now but can we borrow in five years? Will our politicians keep spending money we have to borrow from China and drive us into a depression when the Chinese stop funding us? Italy is a huge red flag warning us that we are on the path to a full-blown depression unless we stop spending money we don't have."
Director, Texas Venture Labs at the University of Texas
"Most of my overseas business is in Asia, so not a big business impact beyond the ripple affect all of this will have on global markets. To reinforce this, China just announced 10 percent GDP growth for the year. The real question is how much more of this bad news is out there, and when will China tire of bailing out the Western World? Like the housing debt crisis in the United States and the pending student loan debt crisis, the question is how long does it take to get to the bottom of the cesspool?"