Countries have tallied their economic standing after the first quarter of the year, and results so far haven?t been great for anyone involved.

To everyone's disappointment but no one's surprise, Europe has continued to be unable to haul itself out of a troublingly long period of economic stagnation. Most disappointingly perhaps is France slipping into a recession. As the second-biggest European market after Germany, this is bad news for companies selling in Europe, which have likely already been suffering in the more troubled Italian and Spanish economies. Although the German economy grew slightly, results still weren?t outstanding. The unemployment problem also persists.
 

So where can companies look for good news?
 
Maybe not the BRIC markets, which had been long hailed as the future of growth for medtech. As the Economist points out, these economies are still growing, but not as fast as they once were. Additionally, this article discusses how the gains for medtech in these countries haven?t been as big as everyone initially hoped?access to these markets is difficult, and companies that do get in face strong competition from low-cost domestic manufacturers that have the ?home ice? advantage (sorry, hockey playoffs just finished).
 
But there is one unlikely source of good news: Japan. The Japanese economy had been suffering in the wake of the global financial crisis as well as the 2011 earthquake/tsunami. However, in Q1 2013, the Japanese economy exceeded expectations when its GDP grew by 3.5%. As one of the biggest medtech markets in the world, this could represent a ray of hope for companies stymied by stagnant economies and cuts to health care spending.
 
Interestingly though, at the recent MD&M East Conference and Exposition, more than half of the audience that was polled in one seminar indicated that they thought the economic recovery was happening now. This is somewhat in contrast to our medtech confidence index, which showed a sharp decline in confidence in the industry in Q1, including a loss in confidence in the economy.
 
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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