The World's Top Players

Not long ago, such worries as declining competitiveness, overengineered products, and a double-dip recession cast a pall over Germany as it struggled to pull out of its worst economic downturn in decades. But in a year of sometimes wrenching adjustment to the global economy, many of Germany Inc.'s blue-chip companies provided something of a beacon for the rest of Europe. The renewal process under way inside those traditional giants helped point Germany toward the global recovery that is taking hold from Europe to Japan and that is building on the expansion in the U.S. and in booming Southeast Asia.

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