German Economy Enters Worst Recession in at least 12 Years

Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) — The German economy, Europe’s largest, contracted more than economists expected in the third quarter, pushing the nation into the worst recession in at least 12 years.

Gross domestic product dropped a seasonally adjusted 0.5 percent from the second quarter, when it fell 0.4 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said today. Economists expected a 0.2 percent decline, the median of 40 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey showed. The economy last contracted this much over two consecutive quarters — the technical definition of a recession — in 1996.

German companies are struggling with dwindling export orders. Siemens AG, Europe’s biggest engineering company, reported a profit decline today and plans to cut 16,750 jobs by 2010. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development lowered its global forecast for the second time, saying the economy of its 30 members will contract 0.3 percent in 2009 after growing 1.4 percent this year.

“The German recession has begun in earnest and it’s very serious,” said Holger Schmieding, chief European economist at Bank of America Corp. in London. “It raises the risk of a German contraction of more than 1 percent next year and we will have to revise down our forecast for the euro area as well.”

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The Orwellian nightmare is here

In the Queen’s speech this autumn Gordon Brown’s government will announce a scheme to institute a database of every telephone call, email, and act of online usage by every resident of the UK. It will propose that this information will be gathered, stored, and “made accessible” to the security and law enforcement agencies, local councils, and “other public bodies”.

This fact should be in equal parts incredible and nauseating. It is certainly enraging and despicable. Not even George Orwell in his most febrile moments could have envisaged a world in which every citizen could be so thoroughly monitored every moment of the day, spied upon, eavesdropped, watched, tracked, followed by CCTV cameras, recorded and scrutinised. Our words and web searches, our messages and intimacies, are to be stored and made available to the police, the spooks, the local council – the local council! – and “other public bodies”.

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