EU companies carry heavy debt
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Bob Moon: [After reading that stocks are down in overseas markets] And how does all that affect the rest of us? A survey out this week shows that U.S. companies aren’t planning on doing much hiring for the rest of the year. And the situation could be even worse in Europe. As Megan Williams reports, the 15-nation euro zone is feeling the weight of serious debt.
Megan Williams: Europe isn’t exactly plastered with “for hire” signs these days. And given the heavy debt many EU companies are carrying, they have good reason to be cautious. For the past decade, major European companies took advantage of easy credit and borrowed like there was no tomorrow. Now, consumer demand is down, oil’s still up and wages are rising to catch up with inflation.
EU expert Francis X. Rocca says what makes things tougher is that banks are no longer handing out money like candy.
Frank Rocca: Companies for a while have been investing, that is to say, borrowing more than they’ve been earning and they continue to do that. But now interest rates are going up, growth is down and so they’re squeezed.
U.S. business debt load is lighter. Companies like California’s Cisco Systems have saved half a trillion dollars in cash by keeping spending in check. Asian countries like Japan are even better prepared for the slowdown after tightening efficiency and streamlining the workforce.
I’m Megan Williams for Marketplace.
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