More than you may think.

Banks don't have to lend money to Greece, Spain or Portugal to be  impacted by Europe's debt crisis. They may have counterparties in the derivatives or currency swaps markets that hold a lot of sovereign debt.

Even the smallest U.S. banks may have corporate clients that do business in Europe. Not to mention banks with exposure to commercial or residential real estate in U.S. markets that tend to attract a lot of foreign investors.

Observers say there's so much interconnectedness in global financial markets that Greece's problems, if they spread across the region, could hurt everything from real estate sales in Florida to corporate loan demand in Cleveland.

In an online poll this week, 39% of respondents said the most important lesson of the Greek financial crisis is that the largest banks put the system at risk. Thirteen percent said the most important lesson was that American banks have a considerable amount of exposure to the crisis that leaves them vulnerable, while 7% said banks' holdings of government bonds didn't provide the safe haven they might have, and that gold looks safer. But a plurality of 41% said we won't know what the most important lesson is for awhile, since the rescue package might fail.

 

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