I am having the pleasure to travel to South France, Germany, Amsterdam, and London as I do a quick pleasure/business tour through Europe. I am writing this off a speed train traveling from Frankfurt to Amsterdam, something I wish we in North America would build!
Germany and France are not being as hard hit as many others in the Western world during this recession. Neither had the bubbles in real estate that Italy, Spain and the UK had. Also, unlike the UK, their banks did not over-leverage and their economies are not as heavily weighted towards finance.
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For example, a friend in Germany informed me that at the peak of the markets in 2006-2007 he had 10 German friends working in London for financial firms. This is down to one at the moment!
Both countries export and have seen exports take a hit. However, they are not suffering quite as badly as other Western nations. Restaurants and clubs are full.
However, as Asia takes over I think both of these nations are going to have problems competing due to low wages and because of the work ethic of Asia. What I see is a very stagnant society, one in which these nations do not decline as much in recessions but do not boom as much in good times.
I go to the UK this weekend, so I will report about how the recession has hit the financial sector there early next week.
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