Germany's economy shrank by 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter, as the recession continued to deepen in Europe's biggest economy. It was the worst quarterly contraction since reunification in 1990.
Fourth-quarter figures were worse than predicted
Feeling the impact of the global financial crisis Germany's economy contracted severely in the final quarter of 2008 from the third quarter.
The Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said the 2.1 percent gross domestic product drop was the largest for any quarter since German reunification dealt a blow to the economy in 1990. And it was higher than the estimate given in January for the quarter, of a 1.5 to 2 percent GDP decline.
Shrinking exports partly at fault
The quarterly progression during 2008 underscored the ongoing slippage of Germany's economy into recession.
The steel industry has been hard hit
The first quarter showed a 1.5 per cent rise over the final quarter of 2007, but then the GDP declined by 0.5 percent each in the second and third quarters, before finishing with the 2.1 per cent plunge in the last three months.
The statistics office cited shrinking exports and capital investment as key factors in the decline.
The government forecast last month that the country's economy will shrink by 2.25 percent in 2009, which would be its worst performance since World War II.
Steel sector hard hit
One of the hardest-hit German sectors is steel. On Friday, Feb. 13, German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp reported a 59 percent drop in profit in the fiscal first quarter.
The Dusseldorf-based company said it will cut jobs in its steel division as a result of falling world wide demand.
Mark Rutte's government is lobbying for the creation of a UN tribunal, which would prosecute suspects in downing of the Malaysian plane, officials have said. Most of the 298 victims in last year's incident were Dutch.
Greece's new government has been negotiating with its IMF and European creditors for five months - fruitlessly. The problem, say economists, is that the two sides' proposals are based on incompatible economic theories.
The longtime ex-leader of right-wing populists the Danish People's Party, has become the first woman elected speaker of the Folketing. On the day of her election, debate opened on a new bill aimed at curbing migration.