Final Word from Thursday, March 21, 2013

Škoda Auto's sales are thriving in Asia, although its growth rate there slowed from 21.9% in 2011 to 11.8% last year. Its sales are also soaring in Eastern Europe, even if the annualized growth rate slipped from 47.0% in 2011 to 26.4% last year. Where growth is in the doldrums is in both Western and Central Europe. After an 8.6% rise in Škoda's deliveries in Western Europe in 2011, sales there contracted by 0.9% last year. Only moderately better was Central Europe, where Škoda's 1.7% growth in 2011 sputtered to 0.7% in 2012. Škoda is only one company, but it's a leading indicator of the market in general. What the figures show is that Western Europe is getting "stuck in reverse," to use the words of Škoda CEO Winfried Vahland, just as Central Europe is peaking out. It might be time to redefine the map of Europe. Instead of speaking of Central & Eastern Europe, perhaps it should henceforth be Central & Western Europe.[Czech Republic cars automobiles CEE CWE]

Glossary of difficult words

to thrive - to prosper, flourish;

doldrums - a period of inactivity or a state of stagnation;

to contract - (with the accent on the second syllable) to decrease in size, number or range;

to sputter - to proceed or develop in a spasmodic and weak way (like a car engine that makes noises as it breaks down);

leading (economic) indicator - a variable that reflects current economic conditions and can suggest future trends;

stuck in reverse - (like a car that is stuck in reverse gear) continually going backward;

to peak (out) - to reach a highest point and to begin to decline.

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