Country Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
UK 0.4% 0.0% -0.6% -1.5%
Germany 1.5% -0.5% -0.5% -2.1%
France 0.4% -0.3% 0.1% -1.2%
Spain 0.4% 0.1% -0.3% -1.0%
When you look back to late last year, and the way the Germans in particular were insisting that this was an "Anglo-Saxon" problem and that the Brown-Darling team was engaged in "crass Keynianism" in the stimulus announced on Nov 24th, one is tempted to say to the Germans, "should have had a VAT cut, love". George Osborne, who loves to pop up quoting the Germans on the British economy (while the Tories still shun Germany in the Council of Europe and in the European Parliament), should pause to eat his words. The simplistic idea that if you don't have a housing boom, you are immune from recession, and if you have a trade surplus you are immune from recession just shows that the Tories have nothing in their heads.
It remains a fact that our government reacted more speedily to the crisis than other governments in the Western world - our stimulus was in time to support Christmas (and without the VAT cut, we would have seen a worse performance than the Germans), and the money hit the economy immediately. Germany didn't move till Jan and their stimulus involved raising income tax thresholds (something panicky Germans will save rather spend despite their economy badly needing domestic consumption to offset the drop in consumption elsewhere).
Osborne similarly complained about sterling dropping, but the fall in sterling helped exports rise in December, despite the massive drop in global demand. He's a total cretin for wanting a strong currency in these times.
I firmly believe that we will weather this recession better than other western economies, because our economy is more flexible than others (the sterling drop for instance) and our government is more agile than others.