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In past global slowdowns, the United States invariably led the way out, followed by Europe and the rest of the world. But for the first time, the catalyst is coming from China and the rest of Asia, where resurgent economies are helping the still-shaky West recover from the deepest recession since World War II.
The United States is also being shoved aside as the make-or-break customer for export-driven nations like Germany and Japan. China overtook the United States as Japan’s leading trading partner in the first half of 2009, while in Europe manufacturers are looking east instead of west.