The worst economic upheaval since the Great Depression is not over. Not yet. But there are - at last - signs that it may be coming to an end. The FT has had sight of the Eurozone’s 2nd Quarter GDP figures, due out tomorrow, and they show that the 17 member bloc has just crept back to growth of 0.2%.
Such anaemic expansion would not normally be a cause for celebration. In the context of the worst recession in Europe since the war, the figures are undoubtedly good news.
Germany is leading the way, and possibly pulling others up in its wake. France and Spain are showing modest signs of improvement. Italy’s recession hasn’t ended, but does seem to be bottoming out, while Greece is still getting worse but much more slowly.
It’s a ray of sunshine, but one that is struggling to break through the big black cloud of unemployment, which remains at 12.1% in the Eurozone. Over the summer that figure should have been falling because of the rise in seasonal employment, which suggests it might start to go up again later in 2013.
And while the 12.1% overall figure is bad, the situation in southern Europe remains truly terrible with Greece and Spain still around 26%. Only Germany at 5.4% can say the jobs situation is doing well. (The UK figure is better than many, but still 7.8%).
Manufacturing output is up (a bit) almost everywhere, and surveys suggest that confidence among both consumers and producers is improving, which is really important when it comes to making investment decisions. But it does look as if improvement is going to continue to be painfully slow.
The worst may be behind us, but ‘normal service’ may not resume for some time.