By Lea Pachta

A shock return to economic growth in France and Germany during the second quarter of this year has surprised economists and policy makers as the recession ends in two of Europe’s biggest economies.

German gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 0.3 percent in the second quarter, boosting hopes of recovery in the broader euro zone. French GDP also grew by 0.3 percent in the second quarter.

Meanwhile, recent economic data in the UK has thrown up tentative signs of recovery but the Bank of England’s decision last week to inject a further £50 billion into the economy via its quantitative easing programme highlighted the hurdles which still remain if the country is to pull itself out of its deepest recession since World War Two. UK unemployment hit its highest rate since 1996 in the three months to June, according to figures published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics.

The UK’s millions of small businesses have found themselves in the frontline as the recession in this country continues to bite. Research by the Federation of Small Businesses revealed that 97 percent of companies in the UK employ 20 people or fewer. The evolution of technology is enabling increasing numbers of these smaller firms to be more resilient in the face of the harsh reality of the current economic conditions.

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