The worst of the Asian financial typhoon is yet to wash over American shores.
American workers and businesses, while so far weathering much of the yearlong crisis, are likely to feel the pounding in the months ahead. Layoffs will increase, export sales will slump further and lower-priced imports will surge, analysts say."The Asian situation will get worse, and the economic effects on America will be more and more pronounced," said Sung Won Sohn, chief economist at Norwest Corp. in Minneapolis.
Already, signs of the crunch are increasing.
Texas Instruments, a leading computer-chip maker, is clipping 3,500 jobs partly due to the slumping Asian market. Electronics maker Motorola, a big player in Asia, is slashing 15,000 jobs, also because of shrinking demand and price pressures.
Farmers who had been counting on populous Asia to buy about half their exports - everything from wheat for noodles to beef for special dinners - have lost $1.5 billion to $2 billion worth of sales this year.
The outlook is grim, said Barbara Spangler, director of government relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington. "We haven't reached the bottom yet."
Reflecting those problems, the nation's trade deficit soared to a record $14.5 billion in April. The Asian crisis knocked down U.S. sales of goods ranging from commercial aircraft to farm products.
"If you're an exporter, clearly it's much tougher to sell into Asia," said Willard Workman, international vice president of the 3 million-member U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "People don't have the money to buy our products."
Economists and business people worry the United States might get caught up in the Asian maelstrom.
The Japanese economy, once seen as the salvation for its smaller Asian neighbors, has slid into the worst recession in 50 years. The weakness in Japan, the world's second-largest economy, is threatening to spread to giant China. And a devaluation of that nation's currency would deliver another round of jolts to the region.
If China and Japan are pulled into the storm, "there's a much more profound impact on the U.S. economy," said Greg Mastel of the Economic Strategy Institute in Washington.