The potential headache of measuring economies in public expenditure

By Raul Sampognaro

Since 2009, the French budget deficit has been cut by 3.3 GDP points, from 7.2 percent of GDP in 2009 to 3.9 points in 2014, even though the economic situation has been weighing heavily on the public purse. This improvement was due to the implementation of a tighter budget policy. Between 2010 and 2013, most of the consolidation effort came from higher taxes, but since 2014 the effort has largely involved savings in public expenditure. In 2014, public expenditure excluding tax credits[1]  recorded its weakest growth since 1959, the year when INSEE began to publish the national accounts: in value, spending excluding tax credits increased by 0.9%, though only 0.3% in volume terms (deflated by the GDP deflator). Lire la suite de « The potential headache of measuring economies in public expenditure »

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A new economic world. Measuring well-being and sustainability in the 21st century

Éloi Laurent and Jacques Le CacheuxUn nouveau monde économique, Mesurer le bien-être et la soutenabilité au 21e siècle, Odile Jacob, 2015.

Introduction: Measuring the possibles

“Let no one ignorant of geometry enter here!”

Inscription over the doors of Plato’s Academy in Athens

 

We live under the reign of gross domestic product (GDP) – 2014 marked its seventieth anniversary. Created by the American economist Simon Kuznets at the dawn of the 1930s, GDP was adopted as an international standard for sovereign accounting at the conference held by the WW2 Allies in July 1944 in the small town of Bretton Woods, in the middle of nowhere. GDP is used to measure monetizable market activities and is the benchmark of economic growth and living standards, and as such over the decades it has become the ultimate measure of nations’ success – precise, robust and comparable. Lire la suite de « A new economic world. Measuring well-being and sustainability in the 21st century »

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Renewed growth in the United Kingdom in 2013: trompe-l’oeil effects

By Catherine Mathieu

The latest estimate of the British national accounts, published on 27 November, confirmed GDP growth of 0.8% in the third quarter of 2013, following 0.7% in the second quarter and 0.4% in the first quarter. This represents a sparkling performance for the UK economy, especially in comparison with the euro zone. GDP was up 1.5% year on year in the third quarter of 2013 in the UK, against -0.4% in the euro zone, 0.2% in France and 0.6% in Germany. In the eyes of some observers, Britain’s return to growth shows that fiscal austerity does not undermine growth … on the contrary. But the argument seems at a minimum questionable. Lire la suite de « Renewed growth in the United Kingdom in 2013: trompe-l’oeil effects »

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The euro zone quartered

By Céline AntoninChristophe Blot, Sabine Le Bayon and Danielle Schweisguth

This text summarizes the OFCE’s 2013-2014 forecast for the euro zone economy.

After six quarters of decline, GDP in the euro zone has started to grow again in the second quarter of 2013. This upturn in activity is a positive signal that is also being corroborated by business surveys. It shows that the euro zone is no longer sinking into the depths of depression. It would nevertheless be premature to conclude that a recovery is underway, as the level of quarterly growth (0.3%) is insufficient to cause any significant reduction in unemployment. In October 2013, the unemployment rate stabilized at 12% of the workforce, a record high. Above all, the crisis is leaving scars and creating new imbalances (unemployment, job insecurity and wage deflation) that will act as obstacles to future growth, especially in certain euro zone countries. Lire la suite de « The euro zone quartered »

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France: less austerity, more growth

By Eric Heyer

This text summarizes the OFCE’s 2013-2014 forecast for the French economy.

In 2013, the French economy should experience annual average growth of 0.2%, which means that by the end of the year its level of production should return to the level of six years earlier, at the end of 2007. This mediocre performance is very far from the trajectory that an economy recovering from a crisis should be on.

The French economy did however have great potential for recovery: average spontaneous growth of about 2.6% per annum over the period 2010-2013 was possible and would have allowed France to make up the output gap accumulated in 2008-2009. But this “recovery” has been hampered mainly by the introduction of budget savings plans in France and across Europe. For the single year 2013, this fiscal strategy will cut economic activity in France by 2.4 GDP points. Lire la suite de « France: less austerity, more growth »

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Does too much finance kill growth?

By Jérôme Creel, Paul Hubert and Fabien Labondance

Is there an optimal level of financialization in an economy? An IMF working paper written by Arcand, Berkes and Panizza (2012) focuses on this issue and attempts to assess this level empirically. The paper highlights the negative effects caused by excessive financialization. Lire la suite de « Does too much finance kill growth? »

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A fiscal policy to promote structural reform – lessons from the German case

By Eric Heyer

“France should copy Germany’s reforms to thrive”, Gerhard Schröder entitled an opinion piece in the Financial Times on 5 June 2013. As for the European Commission (EC), its latest annual recommendations to the Member states, released on 29 May, seem to take a step back from its strategy of a rapid and synchronized return to balancing the public finances, which has been in place since 2010. The EU executive’s priority now seems to be implementation of structural reforms of the labour and services markets in the euro zone countries. Lire la suite de « A fiscal policy to promote structural reform – lessons from the German case »

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What factors have put the brakes on growth since 2010?

By Eric Heyer and Hervé Péléraux

At the end of 2012, five years after the start of the crisis, France’s GDP has still not returned to its earlier level (Figure 1). At the same time, the labour force in France has grown steadily and technical progress has constantly raised workers’ productivity. We are therefore more numerous and more productive than 5 years ago when output was lower: the explosion in unemployment is a symptom of this mismatch. Why had the shoots of recovery seen in 2009 been choked off by mid-2010? Lire la suite de « What factors have put the brakes on growth since 2010? »

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France’s Stability Programme: the missing line

By Eric Heyer

On April 17, the government presented its Stability Programme for 2013-2017 for the French economy. For the next two years (2013-2014), the government has relied on the projections of the European Commission in forecasting growth of 0.1% in 2013 and 1.2% in 2014. Our purpose here is not to revisit these forecasts, though they do seem overly optimistic, but rather to discuss the analysis and outlook for France for the period 2015-2017 that is explicit and sometimes implicit in this document. Lire la suite de « France’s Stability Programme: the missing line »

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Holding to the required course

By Eric Heyer

This text summarizes the OFCE’s 2013-2014 forecasts for the French economy.

In 2013, the French economy should see negative annual average growth, with a fall in GDP of 0.2%, before a modest recovery in 2014, with growth of 0.6 % (Table 1). This particularly mediocre performance is far from the path that an economy pulling out of a crisis should be taking. Lire la suite de « Holding to the required course »

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