Europe’s endless recession, in one chart

May 15, 2013

More terrible news out of Europe: The euro zone economy has contracted for the sixth consecutive quarter. That's officially the longest recession in the history of the euro, which launched in 1999. Even France and Germany are now getting dragged down.

For a good look at the damage, check out this chart from Philippe Waechter of Natixis Asset Management, which shows that only three of the 17 euro zone nations — Germany, Austria and Belgium — have bigger economies now than they did in 2008. The rest either keep shrinking or have yet to rebound to their pre-recession levels:

For those wondering, the United States has been doing significantly better than every single euro zone nation over that same period — the U.S. economy is now more than 3 percent bigger (after adjusting for inflation) than it was in 2008, a period that includes the recession.

Meanwhile, the divergence between Germany and France is growing. Germany grew a scant 0.1 percent in the first quarter of 2013 but narrowly avoided a recession. France saw its economy shrink 0.2 percent for the second consecutive quarter.

That helps explain why Pew recently found that the French are souring on the whole euro zone project much more quickly than the Germans:

There's more grim news in this write-up by the Associated Press: "Growth is expected to emerge in the second half of the year — but it isn’t expected to amount to much. Many economists warn of a lost decade ahead for the eurozone similar to Japan."

Related: Neil Irwin explained why the European Central Bank has been so slow to respond to the euro zone's economic woes.

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Brad Plumer · May 15, 2013