Could French economic happiness be infectious?

The champagne corks weren’t quite popping but the French and German finance ministries were no doubt pleased with themselves last week.

The news that both economies have emerged from recession was welcome, leading French economy minister Christine Lagarde to comment “These are obviously very positive numbers, which have surprised us and made us quite happy.”

The front page of last Friday’s City A.M. also adopted a positive tone, stating “European pair lead recovery”, hinting at a view of a wider recovery across the Eurozone.

Less heralded was the news that Portuguese-speaking Brazil is also now no longer in recession having grown by 1.5% in the second quarter. Along with growth from China and Japan, this means that six of the world’s top 10 economies are now out of recession.

Meanwhile in the UK, the picture seems more bleak. Discussing the outlook and success of Quantitative Easing in his eclectic but always insightful and intelligent blog, Newsnight’s Paul Mason says:

“Even with 0.5% interest rates right through to 2011 and the full £175bn still in circulation until then, the Bank of England is predicting inflation will undershoot the 2% target for CPI. That means we should expect interest rates to be low for at least that long. It also signifies the recovery is going to be pretty appalling: weak and fragile.”

So much for the economics, what does this have to do with translation? Apart from professional translation being effected by the wider economy, I’ve argued before on this blog that translation can be part of a business survival strategy and that the global recession is not playing out evenly.

As Business Secretary Lord Mandelson points out:
“Different economies will show different patterns of behaviour. But the key point is all these economies rely on each other; 55 to 56% of our trade is with the rest of Europe. So when [they are] recovering that is good news for our manufacturers and our exports here.”

The French or German economy may not be booming but if they are pulling ahead of the British, some businesses – not least SMEs – may well wish to revisit the idea of translating a product brochure into French, or translating their website into German. This could not only open up new markets for them, but mean busy times ahead for those of us in the professional translation business!