OECD economies in 0.2% quarterly decline

Greek protesters The eurozone crisis was the biggest factor in the OECD contraction

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The economies of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) contracted by 0.2% in the last three months of 2012.

It was the first such decline for this group of mainly rich countries since the beginning of 2009.

The eurozone was the biggest factor, with a 0.6% contraction. Japan and the UK shrank too and the US saw no growth.

The OECD's figures highlight the continuing weakness that has afflicted the developed world.

At no stage since the financial crisis have developed economies grown very strongly. It has never been a convincing recovery.

But the figures for the final quarter of last year actually show a decline for the first time in nearly four years for the OECD as a whole - which is nearly all the rich countries and a few of the more developed emerging economies.

The data refer to the final three months of last year. There have been some more positive developments since then. In Europe, some business surveys have suggested improving confidence.

Individual country figures have already been published - and are, it should be said, subject to revision. What the OECD's compilation shows is the persistence and extent of the post-crisis malaise.

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