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Disintegration or integration, both painful for eurozone: experts

By Jiang Hanlu, Huang Jihui (Xinhua)

17:59, May 15, 2013

NEW YORK, May 15 (Xinhua) -- Leading economists have painted a grim outlook for the euro zone at a forum here, with one saying there will be no winners, no matter what course of action is taken.

"More integration will be painful for everyone, and disintegration will be also very painful. Whichever way is chosen, it will be very painful," Andreas Hoefert, chief global economist with UBS Wealth Management Research, told the American Business Forum on Europe on Monday.

"There is no happy ending to this euro crisis. There is no winner, there are only losers," he said.

France fell into a mild recession after its economy contracted 0.2 percent in the first quarter this year, marking the third decrease in the last four quarters, preliminary data released Wednesday by French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (Insee) showed.

Meanwhile, Germany posted an anemic 0.1 percent quarterly growth in the first three months of this year, missing market expectations of a 0.3percent increase, and its Federal Statistics Office (Destatis) on Wednesday also revised the fourth-quarter growth of the European economic powerhouse down to minus 0.7 percent from minus 0.6 percent.

"If you note the economic situation in Europe, it is very, very bleak. We would have the second year of recession in the euro zone. What is even worse is if we start to look at the unemployment rate," Hoefert said.

The unemployment rate in the euro zone edged up 0.1 percentage point to 12.1 percent in March from February, marking a new high compared to 2000, according to figures released late April by the European Union's (EU) statistical bureau, Eurostat.

Among EU member states, Spain and Greece recorded the highest jobless rates, both hitting 27 percent.

"This is shameful," Hoefert said, noting that even during the Great Depression in the United States, the peak unemployment rate was 20 percent.

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