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The world economy collapsed into steep recession in the final quarter of 2008 with global real GDP dropping at a 6 percent annual rate. This was undoubtedly the sharpest decline in world output and especially in world industrial production and world trade of the postwar era, with virtually all countries participating in the downturn and many registering record quarterly declines in real GDP. Incoming data indicate that the global economic contraction continued through the first quarter of 2009, although perhaps at a somewhat slower pace than the preceding quarter.
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