If you look at a five-year chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, you would have to wonder what all the whining out of Wall Street is about. Admittedly, my own portfolio is looking less fulsome than, say, it was nine months ago–and I can only imagine when real money is involved how much it hurts. We are living through the deflation of another bubble–this time, the cheap credit bubble. On the plus side, it didn't pop for most of us like the tech bubble; on the negative, we may still have a lot more fallout with which to cope. Companies now must depend more on actual internal growth to generate higher share prices, and the always reliable American consumer may not have the wherewithal to help out this time.

While rates are coming down, it does not appear that the Federal Open Market Committee will be anxious to bail out the economy with extreme cuts in rates, given the current, increasingly concerning inflation outlook. In many cases, the fate of companies now more than ever rests in the hands and on the agility of its finance executives. In our "CFOs to Watch" feature, Treasury & Risk talks to three CFOs who work for companies facing such challenges, thanks in part to the faltering economy. While the three bring with them proven track records at their current or former companies or in past finance posts, they admit the year is unlikely to be much fun for them–or any other finance executive.

That said, I still want to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and healthy New Year –and a plush job that pays in euros.

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