Europe’s Recovery Almost Stalls

Europe’s recovery almost stalled in the fourth quarter as waning spending and investment in Germany unexpectedly brought growth in the region’s largest economy to a halt., Bloomberg 2/12/2010 9:36:04 AM

Gross domestic product in the 16-nation euro region rose 0.1 percent from the third quarter, when it gained 0.4 percent, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said. The recession in Greece deepened, with GDP falling 0.8 percent in the fourth quarter after a 0.5 percent slump in the previous three months.

European governments are struggling to contain the fall-out from Greece’s budget crisis as they phase out the stimulus measures used to pull the economy out of a recession. As market turmoil pushes bond yields higher across southern Europe, the recovery is in danger of losing momentum.

From a year earlier, euro-area GDP declined a seasonally adjusted 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter. For the full year, the economy contracted 4 percent. Separate data showed that industrial production in the region fell 1.7 percent in December, the most in 10 months.

The German economy stagnated in the fourth quarter after recording 0.7 percent growth in the previous three months, while Italian GDP fell 0.2 percent. France’s economic expansion accelerated to 0.6 percent from 0.2 percent. Greece today revised down its data for GDP for the first three quarters of 2009, indicating its recession was deeper than earlier thought.

Europe’s governments face a growing dilemma as they seek to fortify recoveries at a time when rising sovereign-debt burdens threaten to hobble expansion. EU leaders yesterday ordered Greece to get its deficit under control and pledged determined and coordinated action” to protect the currency region in a statement that stopped short of setting out concrete steps.

Europe’s Recovery Almost Stalls