Making Money

For Manufacturers Only
Will be changed to GSE Business Focus beginning with the March 2002 issue

Making Money

Listen to the sounds of the global economy suggests Michelle Garetson

By Michelle Garetson

February 2002

That hum you hear is the sound of money being made. Whether it's the laser printer discharging merger and acquisition agreements, bankruptcy papers, or new euro notes rolling off the presses, there's money being made.

While the economy wasn't necessarily booming on September 10, 2001, certainly the tragedy a day later and the subsequent aftermath heightened the troubles and then pushed those businesses off the brink of a financial abyss. Companies the world over were purging products and personnel in quick fashion for the remainder of 2001. Several consolidations followed as did bankruptcy filings, while others appeared to hunker down in corporate bunkers to wait for a sign of better days. Add to that the government's near silencing of the aviation industry, which immediately trickled down to other industries that rely on aviation to deliver goods and services.

Things got real quiet. Radio, television, and print media advertisers turned down the volume on, or turned off, their advertising budgets to temporarily enhance the bottom line. The trouble with staying quiet was that customers feared that those providers of goods and services didn't survive the economic downturn. So, they heard another's message and moved forward to replace what was lost.

ORDER TAKERS OR SALESPEOPLE?
Today, businesses have to shift from the "order taker" mentality displayed while times were flush and the telephone always rang in good news to one of a true salesperson - a partner who actively seeks ways to help customers achieve goals. Again, a deafening quiet. Many businesses "forgot" how they help customers succeed and in turn, lost their own winning edge. These companies started hearing the hum of their competitors making money - those businesses that had remembered what it takes to find and keep customers. Suddenly, "How to Sell in a Soft Economy" sales seminars were filling up as fast as they were announced.

A SINGLE CURRENCY, A MULTIPLE OF CHALLENGES
The new year rang in on cash registers and in financial institutions of Europe as it began circulation of the euro. Though the euro has been used in electronic transactions by banks and international businesses since January 1999, the brief span of time to transmit from a centuries-old currency and methodology to new money and mode for transactions may prove to be a large hurdle for many, if not all, the countries involved. Euro member countries include: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. At the outset, it looks good for several countries to be embracing a single currency, but this group is as diverse today as it was at the end of 2001.

One of the defining characteristics of a nation is its currency. Ask any number of people living in Europe if they are "European" and most likely, the reply will be a national identity, rather than an overarching continental description. The EU maybe stretching itself a bit at first to expect a quick acceptance of a homogenized entity now melded by a common coin.

Certainly, for anyone doing business globally, this new financial tool and its management should require close attention. The expectation that the sowing of the euro will grow a unification of sorts for a continent composed of such diversity in cultures and economies is a lofty one, but what an incredible triumph if realized.

Listen closely in the year ahead to the sounds of the global economy. That hum you hear is the sound of money being made, and with proper effort, the money being made will be yours.

EUROPE'S OLD MONEY

Now Europe's dead currencies face an afterlife in more modest reincarnations as furnace fuel, museum trinkets, insulation, mouse pads and landfill.

Each day, coins and banknotes worth billions of dollars have been leaving circulation in a massive currency trade-in that will end Feb 28, 2002, or before, depending upon the country.

Central banks feed the bills into sorting machines that separate counterfeits and shred the rest into tons of high quality confetti. Coins are hacked up so as not to be spent again.

It's a gigantic task, especially for Germany, Europe's largest economy. Its 350,000 tons of defunct coins contain as much metal as 47 Eiffel Towers. And then there are 2,800 tons of paper money to get rid of. Burn it would be obvious except that Germany's Bundesbank shut down its money incinerator a few years ago because it would cost too much to bring it up to environmental regulations.
Source: Associated Press


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