Large European economies brace for biggest decline since World War II

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PARIS – Cavernous factories devoid of workers. Frozen cranes outdoors on construction sites. Millions of people confined to their homes, spending a fraction of what they used to do before the coronavirus struck.

The closures brought on by the pandemic in Europe should largely plunge the continent into a deep recession. On Wednesday, Germany and France, the largest economies, showed how bad it was, warning that they are headed for their most serious slowdowns since World War II.

France has officially entered into recession after suffering one of the worst quarterly contractions in more than 50 years. Growth fell about 6% from January to April, compared with the fourth quarter, when the economy contracted slightly due to nationwide strikes, the central bank said. The population remains confined every two weeks, the economy shrinking by at least 1.5%, she added.

And Germany is slipping into its deepest recession on record, with growth expected of nearly 10% from April to June, five leading economic institutes announced on Tuesday.

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