Bill Flett makes it his business to know what's going on in economies all over the world. As vice president of Hovercraft Concepts in Miami, a company that produces and sells the special boats that fly on a cushion of air, he dedicates his time to studying social, economic and political forces in other countries to help him anticipate where markets may be going.
"The world has become my neighborhood," Flett said.
But 18 months ago, Flett noticed something missing in the barrio. All of his Argentine customers, more than 20 percent of his Latin American business, disappeared. Argentina had entered into a deep recession, which had his customers cutting their spending.
"A hovercraft, like any small boat, is considered extra," he said. "So as soon as the market gets tough in a country, the first thing to go is the toys."
He won't say how much his company has lost but he hopes the economy in Argentina recovers this fall, usually a time of year.
Hovercraft Concepts is one of thousands of South Florida businesses feeling the pinch as Argentina struggles to lift itself out of a recession that has left unemployment at about 15 percent, and projected economic growth of less than 2 percent.
The recession began 18 months ago …