GDP in the United States appears to have fallen by 1.6% in the first quarter of 2009, a situation which has caused considerable pain here. But that's nothing compared to Europe: for the EU, it looks like the first quarter fall was around 2.5% from the previous quarter. For the EU, that translates into an estimated annual drop of 4.4-4.6% below 2008.
European trade unions have held a number of large rallies in European cities in recent days to protest government policies that result in job losses. An estimated 350,000 people marched in Berlin, Brussels, Madrid, Prague and elsewhere. The drop is most acute in Central and Eastern Europe, in countries that have seen high growth since the end of communism. Of the Western countries, Spain has been particularly hard hit. In recent years, it has had one of the highest growth rates, but in the first quarter the economy contracted by 1.8%; unemployment in March stood at over 17%. (Thanks to EU Observer.)