All the following figures for GDP are growth per quarter. Eurostat also show American GDP stated per quarter, for comparison.
Country Q208 Q308 Q408 Q109
France -0.4% -0.2% -1.5% -1.2%
Germany -0.5% -0.5% -2.2% -3.8%
Italy -0.6% -0.8% -2.1% -2.4%
Spain 0.1% -0.3% -1.0% -1.8%
UK 0.0% -0.7% -1.6% -1.9%
USA 0.7% -0.1% -1.6% -1.6%
All the countries that stimulated have mitigated the bad effects of the recession.
The Americans in particular have applied several stimuluses to their economy. Their growth was positive in Q208 because the Bush stimulus bill signed in Feb 2008 released $178bn in tax rebate cheques in May 2008, then $300bn for distressed homeowners in July 2008, and then Obama signed a $787 billion package in Feb 2008. No wonder the American economy is doing less badly than everyone elses.
Elsewhere the centre-left Labour govt of the UK and the centre-left socialist govt of Spain also stimulated in the fourth quarter of 2008. The Germans didn't bother and the Italians under Berlusconi were also slow.
Germany belatedly started to take action earlier this year. But the delay has been costly - some economists reckon that the cost to fix things will be more than the cost of re-unification. The real cost of recessions is the drop in tax revenue - and the longer and deeper the recession is, the worse that cost is. Germany has now admitted that it will experience it's biggest budget deficit since WW2. It's actually cheaper to go for a stimulus early to mitigate the recession and ensure it is short-lived than to let it run and run. Tories like George Osborne cheered Germany to the rafters when they were making their idiotic comments last Sept about "crass Keynesianism". But they are strangely silent now.
It's not fashionable to say this, but we in Britain were lucky to have Gord at the helm in Sept 2008. No one else would have had the sense to take the right course of action.