European austerity by the numbers: in or out of the euro zone today’s figures are grim.

The World

The European economic numbers flow across my computer screen, not quite as quickly as the ticker tape crawl at CNBC or Bloomberg, but there are a lot of them and virtually every one is bad. And in or out of the euro zone, they all point to the same thing: austerity isn't working.

In Greece: the economy contracted by 7 percent in the last quarter. Since austerity budgets began to be implemented two years ago Greece's debt had jumped from 115 percent of GDP to 166 percent of GDP, the Guardian reports.

In Britain: Unemployment is at 8.4 percent according to the Office of National Statistics, a 16 year high (I have reported on other sources of unemployment statistics here).

As in the U.S. today's overall British unemployment number tells only part of the story. The crucial figure, as reported in the Daily Telegraph, is this: "A record number of people are working part-time because they cannot find full-time jobs – up by 83,000 over the latest quarter to 1.35 million."

In Germany: it was officially confirmed that the economy contracted by 0.2 percent in the last quarter of 2011 – although this contract was smaller than had been predicted by economists.

In Italy: GDP declined 0.7 Percent in the last quarter. This follows a 0.2 percent decline in the third quarter of 2011 officially placing Italy in recession.

In the Netherlands: The economy also declined by 0.7 percent, the second quarter in a row of negative growth so it to is now in recession.

In France: the negative trend was bucked with the French economy actually expanding by 0.2 percent in the last quarter.

The last bit of news confirms the reverse curse of the credit downgrade. Just as the U.S. economy has steadily improved since it lost its Standard & Poor's AAA rating, so France's bond yields and virtually all economic indicators have improved since S&P downgraded it late last year.

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