US businesses may pick up slack from Japan

March 17, 2011 4:25:12 AM PDT
Analysts are still measuring the impact of Japan's earthquake on the U.S. economy, but initial reports indicate the U.S. stands to both lose and gain from the disaster.

Companies that currently export goods to Japan may see a greater demand for products as well as new opportunities to work with other countries that normally trade with Japan while it rebuilds. For instance, Japan exports heavy machinery to China, which could possibly be a big gain in business for the U.S.

"It's a real opportunity for those who can pick up the slack because they have a lot of excess capacity in U.S. that isn't being used right now," Diane Swonk, Mesirow Financial, said.

Japan is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and is expected to fully recover while trying to minimize the impact that any halt in exports can have on the global economy.

"This is ultimately a developed economy. It has the capacity to rebuild and many of the disruptions we've seen are now more because people are evacuated because of radiation fallout, not actual destruction to infrastructure," Swonk said.

Japan's largest export to the U.S. is cars. And Toyota, the country's largest automaker, has stopped production until next week. The Prius hybrid is made in Japan and local dealers are hoping they won't see a depletion in their supply, especially with the increase of demand due to high gas prices.

"I really doubt if it's gonna be shut down for a very long time. If it is, then we'll have to get creative and switch to another car," Ray Khouchaba, Grossinger City Autoplex.