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The geography of the crisis in western Europe : national and regional impacts and policy responses

Bachtler, J.F. and Davies, S.S. (2010) The geography of the crisis in western Europe : national and regional impacts and policy responses. In: Financial Crisis in Central and Eastern Europe. Scholar, Warsaw.

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In the course of 2008, the countries of Western European began to experience the full impact of the global economic crisis. The financial crash was followed by a drying-up of bank liquidity and slowdown in trade. Every country saw a decline in GDP growth over successive quarters in late 2008 and the first half of 2009. During the latter part of 2009, most Western European economies saw the resumption of growth (notable exceptions were Spain and the United Kingdom), with varying predictions of the sustainability of the recovery in the course of 2010. For much of the 2008-09 period, the attention of policymakers was fixed on emergency measures to contain the effects of the crisis, notably to rescue banks in danger of collapse and to stabilise the financial sector. Various packages of crisis measures have been implemented across Western Europe, generally with the aims of stimulating consumer demand and investment and reducing the effects of the crisis on (un)employment. For the most part, the policy measures in response to the crisis have been implemented on a nationwide basis. There is however an important territorial dimension both to the effects of the crisis - only gradually becoming apparent - and the policy responses. This chapter examines the geography of the crisis in Western Europe, discussing regional impacts and regional responses. It begins with a short review of the development of the crisis, the main differences in its impact across countries and the different types of policy measures implemented to contain the effects of the crisis. The chapter then investigates the different types of regional impacts - in particular on regional unemployment rates - and the geographical characteristics of policy responses by national and regional authorities.