Here’s the BBC with some bad news for Europe.
Germany’s economy slowed to “near stagnation” last month, while France’s recorded its biggest contraction for four years, according to a closely watched survey.
The Markit composite purchasing managers’ index (PMI), which measures both the manufacturing and services sectors, declined to 50.6 in Germany last month, from 53.3 in February.
Any figure above 50 indicates growth.
France’s reading fell to 41.9 points, its worst since March 2009.
For the eurozone as a whole, the index fell to 46.5 from 47.9 in February.
Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said the latest data painted a gloomy picture.
“The [eurozone] recession is deepening once again as businesses report that they have become increasingly worried about the region’s debt crisis and political instability,” he said.
“The unresolved election in Italy was commonly cited as a key factor clouding the economic outlook in March, and the botched bail-out of Cyprus could well filter through to a further worsening of business sentiment across the region in April.”
Mr Williamson added that the weak showing from Germany “suggests that the only source of bright light in an otherwise gloomy region has once again begun to fade”.
Germany’s index reading was the worst in the country for three months.
The French socialist government has also been rocked by a scandal:
It is hard to think of a worse scandal for the Socialist government in France. As “President Normal” and “Mr Fair”, François Hollande’s whole being and essence was to crack down on tax evasion and financial corruption, making the wealthy pay their share in dragging France out of its economic woes. Riding his scooter, living in his modest flat and taking a salary cut, Hollande had promised that, unlike Nicolas Sarkozy before him, his presidency would be “exemplary”, squeaky clean, and totally just.
But now Jerome Cahuzac, the trusted tax tsar and budget minister who had vigorously led Hollande’s crusade against fraudsters and tax-dodging millionaires, has made a shock confession of his own monumental fraud. With investigators and journalists closing in on the truth, he admitted hiding €600,000 (£509,000) from the taxman in a secret foreign account for 20 years. Not only that; Cahuzac had spent the past four months repeatedly lying on TV and to parliament, where he insisted from the government benches: “I do not have, I have never had, an account abroad, not now, not ever.”
Last year, France decided to elect a socialist prime minister named Francois Hollande, and then the people of France voted to give him a socialist majority in Parliament. And now we are seeing the results of that decision. Hollande’s priorities are things like a 75% income tax rate, hiring 60,000 new unionized teachers, lowering the retirement age back to 60, and massive spending on government-owned housing. It doesn’t look like his plan is working to grow the French economy.