The Global Question: Who Needs the U.S.?

Vibrant Asian and European economies may test the theory that when America sneezes, the planet catches a cold

Illustration for TIME by Jon Krause

Why is Nicole Leibinger-Kammüller still smiling? The chief executive of Trumpf, a family-owned machine-tool firm in Germany, has watched orders from the critical U.S. market slow significantly in the past few months. But while the housing-bled U.S. economy has been sluggish, and the dollar weak, it's all proving quite manageable. "We can feel the U.S. slowdown, but it's not unsettling. There's no crash," Leibinger-Kammüller says. Trumpf's sales of its metal-cutting machines elsewhere--to Saudi Arabia, to Singapore and especially in Germany--continue to rack up double-digit growth rates. The buoyancy of global trade "is amazing. We have to keep telling ourselves: Careful, this can't...

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