POLAND Poland was long considered one of the least promising of the newly capitalist states of Eastern Europe, lagging behind tigers like the Czech Republic and Slovenia. But Europe's bad years have been good for the Poles. The country's economy grew 15.8 percent between 2008 and 2011, while the European Union's cumulative economy shrank by half a percent. In 2009, the worst year of the crisis, Poland's was the only EU economy that didn't contract. Analysts credit smart monetary and fiscal policies and low debt levels for the Polish miracle, along with a large market of domestic consumers that meant Poland's companies were less dependent on exports than its neighbors. Poles also simply try harder than many other Europeans, working about 500 more hours per year than Germans despite earning about a fifth of their salaries. The continent's woes may finally be catching up with the Polish tiger, however: Poland recently had to revise its 2013 growth projections from 2.9 percent down to 2.2 percent.
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