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A Deep Breath And A New Europe (Int'l Edition)

International -- Editor's Memo


Over the years, BUSINESS WEEK has devoted special editions to subjects of vital importance. Last June, we examined Hong Kong's handover to China, and last August, we focused on Silicon Valley. This week, we spotlight the dramatic economic-reform movement in Europe based on the euro. If this were just about putting new money in European wallets, we'd have had second thoughts. But in fact, it's about the most ambitious economic reform Europe has attempted since rebuilding from World War II.

If successful, the euro revolution could make the Continent one of the world's most competitive and dynamic players by early next century. It also might point the way for other regions, such as Asia and Latin America, to rebuild their financial systems. Implausible? Not if you look at the effects this new currency could have on economies. After three decades of watching the world zip by, politicians, led by German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, are hitching the Continent's fate directly to global markets.

That's because the euro will do much more than unify European finance. It also has the potential to revitalize Europe's companies, make its stock and bond markets global achievers, and finally deal with its greatest affliction: chronic double-digit unemployment. There are also huge risks, starting with job turmoil and cultural and political upheaval as workers meet this newly sharp-fanged economy. Yet once the 11 euro nations commit on May 2, they'll have little room to manage their economies or easily quit.

For this issue, European Economics Correspondent and Frankfurt Bureau Chief Thane Peterson, European Edition Editor Rose Brady, and Senior Editor Frank Comes assembled a team of specialists. Paris-based Gail Edmondson examined companies already locked in a merger race to become Continent-wide players. Frankfurt senior news editor Joan Warner looked at the impact on bond and stock markets and the tumult the euro could cause for small business and Europe's valued lifestyles. European Technology Correspondent Steve Baker explored whether Europe might even become a global tech power someday, while Brussels Correspondent Bill Echikson evaluated the effect on consumers and workers, and London Bureau Chief Stanley Reed weighed the impact on Britain, Switzerland, and the Nordic countries that will not join in, at least for now. Political Editor John Templeman, Finance Editor Kerry Capell, Europe Editor Patrick Smith, and Art Director Jay Petrow pulled the special together in New York. Provocative, probing--and, we hope, enlightening. It's journalism you won't find elsewhere.By Robert J. Dowling, International Managing Editor

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