While there have been flickers of good news lately – recent upticks in French business and consumer confidence and Spanish auto sales, for instance – the countries of Europe are either still shrinking or are growing very slowly. During 2012 the economies of Western Europe (U.K., France, Belgium and Germany) grew by about a percentage point or less annually while the economies of central Europe (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania) did a bit better on a percentage-growth basis. Meanwhile, Italy, Spain and Portugal remained in recession...
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