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A woman walks during a protest during a May Day rally in the centre of Barcelona, May 1, 2012. Tens of thousands of workers marked May Day in European cities Tuesday with a mix of anger and gloom over austerity measures imposed by leaders trying to contain the euro zone's intractable debt crisis. (Manu Fernandez/Associated Press/Manu Fernandez/Associated Press)
A woman walks during a protest during a May Day rally in the centre of Barcelona, May 1, 2012. Tens of thousands of workers marked May Day in European cities Tuesday with a mix of anger and gloom over austerity measures imposed by leaders trying to contain the euro zone's intractable debt crisis. (Manu Fernandez/Associated Press/Manu Fernandez/Associated Press)

Taking stock

Is the 'biggest bull market in history' ahead? Add to ...

The latest news from the embattled outposts of Europe, more troublesome U.S. numbers and further signs of a slowdown in China and other emerging economies are helping to reignite talk of a double-dip on a global scale.

A large swath of Europe is already back in recession and unemployment has climbed to levels not seen in 15 years, underscoring the claims of prominent critics that the harsh German austerity regimen is quite likely to kill off seriously ill patients long before they can reap the undoubted long-term benefits of the medicine. The growing backlash against heavy budget-cutting has added large dollops of political risk and social instability to the region’s worsening economic outlook.

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