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What is a Left economics? (Or, why economists disagree)

By Guillaume Allègre

What is a Left economics? In an opinion column published in the newspaper LibĂ©ration on 9 June 2015 (“la concurrence peut servir la gauche” ["Competition can serve the Left"], Jean Tirole and Etienne Wasmer reply that to be progressive means “sharing a set of values and distributional objectives”. But, as Brigitte Dormont, Marc Fleurbaey and Alain Trannoy meaningfully remark (“Non, le marchĂ© n’est pas l’ennemi de la gauche” ["No, the market is not the enemy of the Left"]) in LibĂ©ration on 11 June 2015, reducing progressive politics to the redistribution of income leaves something out. suite…»

Still no halt to the rise in unemployment

OFCE Analysis and Forecasting Department

The unemployment data for the month of May once again show a rise in the number of job seekers registering at the PĂ´le Emploi job centre in Class A, up 16,200. Although this is certainly fewer than in April (26,200), it still leaves no glimpse on the horizon of a reversal in the unemployment curve. This continuous increase in unemployment, despite some initial shoots of recovery, is not surprising. The renewed GDP growth in the first quarter (+0.6% according to the detailed accounts published by the INSEE Thursday morning) has yet to have an impact on employment, which has stagnated. For the moment, companies are taking advantage of the pick-up in activity to absorb the excess labour they inherited from the crisis (in English see the post introducing this study). Only once the recovery has proved to be sustainable will an increase in employment translate into a reduction in unemployment. The time it takes employment to adjust to economic activity, i.e. about three quarters, does not point towards a turnaround in the labour market in the short term. suite…»

Greece: an agreement, again and again

By Céline Antonin, Raul Sampognaro, Xavier Timbeau, Sébastien Villemot

… La même nuit que la nuit d’avant                  […The same night as the night before
Les mêmes endroits deux fois trop grands          The same places, twice too big
T’avances comme dans des couloirs                     
You walk through the corridors
Tu t’arranges pour éviter les miroirs                     
You try to avoid the mirrors
Mais ça continue encore et encore …                    
But it just goes on and on…]

Francis Cabrel, Encore et encore, 1985.

Just hours before an exceptional EU summit on Greece, an agreement could be signed that would lead to a deal on the second bail-out package for Greece, releasing the final tranche of 7.2 billion euros. Greece could then meet its deadlines in late June with the IMF (1.6 billion euros) as well as those in July and August with the ECB (6.6 billion euros) and again with the IMF (0.45 billion euros). At the end of August, Greece’s debt to the IMF could rise by almost 1.5 billion euros, as the IMF is contributing 3.5 billion euros to the 7.2 billion euro tranche.

Greece has to repay a total of 8.6 billion euros by September, and nearly 12 billion by the end of the year, which means funding needs that exceed the 7.2 billion euros covered by the negotiations with the Brussels Group (i.e. the ex-Troika). To deal with this, the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) could be used, to the tune of about 10 billion euros, but it will no longer be available for recapitalizing the banks. suite…»

Investment behaviour during the crisis: a comparative analysis of the main advanced economies

By Bruno Ducoudré, Mathieu Plane and Sébastien Villemot

This text draws on the special study, Équations d’investissement : une comparaison internationale dans la crise [Investment equations : an international comparison during the crisis], which accompanies the 2015-2016 Forecast for the euro zone and the rest of the world.

The collapse in growth following the subprime crisis in late 2008 resulted in a decline in corporate investment, the largest since World War II in the advanced economies. The stimulus packages and accommodative monetary policies implemented in 2009-2010 nevertheless managed to halt the collapse in demand, and corporate investment rebounded significantly in every country up to the end of 2011. But since 2011 investment has followed varied trajectories in the different countries, as can be seen in the differences between, on the one hand, the United States and the United Kingdom, and on the other the euro zone countries, Italy and Spain in particular. At end 2014, business investment was still 27% below its pre-crisis peak in Italy, 23% down in Spain, 7% in France and 3% in Germany. In the US and the UK, business investment was 7% and 5% higher than the pre-crisis peaks (Figure). suite…»

Save Greece by Democracy!

By Maxime Parodi @MaximeParodi, Thomas Piketty (Director of research at the EHESS and professor at Paris School of Economics), and Xavier Timbeau @XTimbeau

The newspapers have been full of the Greek drama since Syriza’s election to power on 25 January 2015. Caught in the noose of its loans, Greece’s government is defending its position by threatening to leave the euro zone. The situation today is at an impasse, and the country’s economy is collapsing. As bank deposits flee and uncertainty mounts about the times ahead and the measures to come, no-one is really able to think about the future.

Europeans, for their part, are wondering what has led to this state of affairs. There has been a diagnosis of Institutional incompleteness, with proposals to reinforce the construction of the euro zone. But what is emerging is not up to the challenges facing Europe. suite…»

The free movement of Europe’s citizens in question

By GĂ©rard Cornilleau

The British election has reignited the debate on the free movement of EU citizens within the Community. The fact that in less than 10 years the number of people originating from Central and Eastern Europe (mainly Bulgaria and Romania) has increased tenfold in the UK, rising, according to Eurostat, from 76,000 in 2004 to 800,000 in 2013, is undeniably behind this new unease around intra-European migration.

Further fuelling this debate over permanent migration is the issue of the free movement of seconded workers who travel to take up jobs in a country other than their country of residence with no justification other than the possibility of reducing labour costs by avoiding paying social security contributions in the host country. suite…»

Is Emmanuel Macron approving a new industrial policy for France?

By Sarah Guillou

Support for industry is an economic issue that wins adherence from both Right and Left. The entire French political spectrum agrees on the importance of industry for the economy’s future. There is also a consensus among economists, who bring together a variety of sensitivities in recognizing the leading role industry plays in driving growth, mainly through exports and innovations – the manufacturing sector is responsible for over 70% of total exports and more than 75% of total R&D spending. This consensus is even international, to such an extent that, paraphrasing Robert Reich, it could be said that, “on the battlefield of national economic ambition, industry is the new boots on the ground”. suite…»

A fall in the unemployment rate according to the ILO: the false good news

By Bruno Ducoudré and Eric Heyer

Two days following the announcement by France’s unemployment agency Pôle Emploi of an increase in Class A job seeker registrations in April, which comes on top of a first quarter increase, the INSEE statistics agency has published its estimate of the unemployment rate. Under the definition of the International Labour Office (ILO), the unemployment rate in metropolitan France fell by 0.1 point in the first quarter of 2015, meaning 38,000 fewer unemployed than in the fourth quarter of 2014. But according to Pôle emploi, over this same period the number of registered Class A job seekers rose by 12,000. In one case, unemployment is falling; in the other, it is rising: this does not make for a clear diagnosis of what’s happening with unemployment at the start of the year.

What accounts for the different diagnoses of the INSEE and PĂ´le Emploi? suite…»

Unemployment figures: the chill returns in April

By Analysis and Forecasting Department (OFCE-DAP)

While the slowing increase in the number of job seekers registered with France’s Pôle Emploi unemployment agency in the first quarter of 2015 could be seen as the premise of the long-awaited downturn in the unemployment curve, the figures released today once again cast doubt on this prospect, at least in the short term. The registration of 26,200 additional people in category A at the agency in April brings the increase in job seekers back to a high rate, well above the average over the last two years (13,400 per month) and far from the virtual stability seen in the first quarter (+3,000 per month).

While the publication of strong figures for first-quarter GDP growth (+ 0.6%) reaffirmed the prospect of a recovery, the jobless numbers are disappointing. Don’t forget, however, that employment does not immediately respond to a pick-up in activity; it will take time to reap the benefits for the labour market of the good growth experienced at the year’s beginning, when the recovery has proven to be strong, pushing employers to recruit. For now, companies are still digesting the overstaffing inherited from the period of very low growth between 2011 and 2014. The fall in unemployment that can be foreseen with the recovery will not take place until the second half of 2015. But the acceleration of job centre registrations in April sends a contrary signal. suite…»

The spirit of the letter of the law … to avoid a “Graccident”

Raul Sampognaro and Xavier Timbeau

The noose, in the words of Alexis Tsipras, is getting tighter and tighter around the Greek government. The last tranche of the aid program (7.2 billion euros) has still not been released as the Brussels Group (the ex-Troika) has not accepted the conditions on the aid plan. The Greek state is therefore on the brink of default. It might be thought that this is simply one more episode in the drama that Greece has been acting out with its creditors and that, once again, at the last moment the money needed will be found. But if Greece has managed to meet its deadlines up to now, it has been at the price of expedients that it is not at all certain can be used again. suite…»