Is a new global recession on the way?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends the appointment of German Education Minister Johanna Wanka at Bellevue Palace on February 14, 2013 in Berlin, Germany.

A slew of GDP numbers out of Europe and Asia today paint a gory picture of the global economy.

Most shocking has been the sharp downturn in the German economy. Europe’s powerhouse shrank by 0.6 percent in the last quarter of last year. Falling exports did most of the damage. The French economy contracted too, and Portugal fell by an alarming 1.8 percent, dragging down the rest of the eurozone in their wake.

The currency bloc as a whole is now mired in a deepening recession. But the pain is not confined to Europe. Japan also saw its output shrivel in the last quarter. Andrew Hilton of the CSFI think tank says this is a global trend:

“Recessions that take place after financial crises are much, much harder to reverse. There’s a lot of historical evidence for that, and we’re finding it out the hard way," says Hilton.

Meanwhile the U.S. is performing relatively well. Better than expected figures on auto sales, retail sales and on exports may well push America’s GDP for the last quarter into positive territory.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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