Last year, the European economy shrank 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter. The IMF has forecast a 0.5 contraction throughout 2012. Both France and Germany beat analyst predictions. All Northern European countries, with the exception of the Netherlands either grew or exceeded analyst expectations.
Weakness was concentrated in the heavily indebted south. Based on these numbers, Italy, Belgium, Greece, and Portugal are all in recession. Business confidence has been further hampered recently by the lack of resolution of the current Greek bailout, required for Greece to not default on its next debt payment. Greece’s economy contracted by 7 percent in 2011.
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