Marking Down the Future

MICHEL EULER/AP

SHOP, OR ELSE... With businesses reluctant to invest, the euro zone needs shoppers to keep on spending to avoid recession

In the kitchenware department of Paris' famed La Samaritaine store, Herry Andriavaloherinaiva, 35, is looking intently through the racks of ceramic bowls and cloth napkins. Like thousands of other Parisians mobbing the stores during the after-Christmas sales, Andriavaloherinaiva is braving not just France's frosty weather but an equally chilly economic climate in his pursuit of a bargain. He is unfazed by the downturn that has led some economists to predict France's GDP growth could be as low as .9% in 2003. "I'm not worried," he says. "I still have the same spending pattern as always."

But many government...

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