I've been hearing that the latest assessments of the European economy make for gloomy reading. In particular, the German economy has stalled to the extent that the possiblity of deflation - falling prices - in the same destructive manner as has befallen the Japanese economy, is a very real one. On the face of it that's not good news. Demand is even weaker than was supposed just a few months ago. Consumers are reining in and retrenching. Businesses aren't investing. But on the other hand, there's an upside in terms of the outlook. The pressure on the European Central Bank to bring down interest rates even further will undoubtedly increase and the ECB will be a lot less concerned about any inflationary consequences now. If interest rates do come down further, that could help to support the European car market in the second half of the year. But Germany does look worryingly weak. The French economy has actually been doing relatively okay of late.