Thoughts and Prayers for Japan

Dean's Reflections

As we continue to learn more about the devastation wrought by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan—and as anxiety about the state of the Fukushima power plant remains high—our thoughts and prayers are with the thousands affected by this disaster. The Sellinger community extends its condolences to those who have lost loved ones or who are awaiting news about friends and family members.

While it may seem callous to consider the impact of such a tragedy on the world’s financial markets, it is critical for business leaders to understand how this disaster and others can affect their industries and their organizations. According to many experts, the Japanese economy, the world’s third-largest—has already sustained losses in excess of $200 billion. As Japanese nuclear plants continue to malfunction, local stock values are not immune to effects on the Japanese economy, as seen on Tuesday when Under Armour reported a one percent decrease in shares after rising more than 20 percent in the last three months.  It remains to be seen to what extent foreign investors will be affected as economic resources are depleted in Japan and economic activity slows, causing Japanese companies to sell foreign assets to cover local expenses arising from the tsunami, earthquake, and resulting nuclear crisis. This movement would continue to decrease the value of the dollar against the Japanese yen as funds are pulled back into the country.

You’ll note my last reflection was about the effects that risk has on business, particularly in the international arena. Risk isn’t limited to political instability and ethical blunders. Our unpredictable, turbulent, and powerful environment poses its own risks, and while there are certainly strategies one can employ to minimize the impact of a natural disaster, it is impossible to hedge against them completely.

As business people, we see our primary responsibility in these situations in terms of our fundamental competencies and skill sets. We lend expertise, we rebuild businesses, we share resources. But we can never lose sight of our fundamental purpose as citizens of the world, and we must be fellow human beings first. Loyola’s Center for Community Service and Justice (CCSJ) has developed a resource guide for those interested in contributing to Japanese relief efforts. I encourage you to visit the CCSJ Facebook page for more information and to learn more about how you can help.