Europe’s tired engine

AFTER a promising May and June, Steffen Knoop has seen his sales dip by 30%. His small Hamburg-based company, Wascut, sells cooling and cleaning oils for big machines, including those that make cars. “I have a pretty good window on the economy,” he says. Mr Knoop wonders whether the dip is caused by people taking extra long summer holidays or something more serious. Others with a broader and more long-term view of the economic landscape are asking the same question.



Hopes are pinned on Germany as the locomotive that will keep chugging even as large parts of the euro zone go into recession (see chart). As long as Europe’s biggest economy keeps growing, the argument goes, it can gradually pull others out of the mire. Figures released on August 14th duly showed that German GDP grew in the second quarter on the previous one, but only by 0.3%. That was better than in France (no growth at all), Spain (minus 0.4%) and Italy (minus 0.7%). Given its current weakness, can Germany continue to pull its neighbours along?

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