EYES ON THE NEIGHBORS: A recent easing of financial market tensions from the eurozone debt crisis helped improve the outlook among financial analysts in the closely watched ZEW survey. Plans by the European Central Bank to buy government bonds issued by indebted countries on financial markets have helped ease market fears that the 17-country shared euro currency might break up.
ECONOMIC ENGINE: Germany is Europe's biggest economy and its modest recent growth has kept the eurozone as a whole out of recession. Germany's government finances are in relatively good health and it grew 0.3 percent in the second quarter — in contrast to the sharp downturns and debt problems afflicting other eurozone countries such as Spain and Italy. But Germany is going through a shaky patch because the troubled eurozone countries are major trading partners.