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 Pôle Emploi? Continue reading “A fall in the unemployment rate according to the ILO: the false good news”

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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. Continue reading “Unemployment figures: the chill returns in April”

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

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On the search to “recapture the industrial spirit of capitalism”: From patient shareholders to shared governance

By Jean-Luc Gaffard and Maurizio Iacopetta

The government, buoyed by the law to recapture the real economy, the Florange act, which establishes the possibility of double voting for patient shareholders (who have held their shares at least two years), has just taken two significant decisions by temporarily increasing its holdings in the capital of Renault and Air France in order to ensure that in a general shareholders meeting the double voting option is not rejected by the qualified majority authorized under the law. The objective spelled out by France’s Minister of the Economy in Le Monde is to help “recapture the industrial spirit of capitalism” by favouring long-term commitments in order to promote investment that will foster solid growth. Continue reading “On the search to “recapture the industrial spirit of capitalism”: From patient shareholders to shared governance”

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Equality at risk from simplification

By Françoise Milewski and Hélène Périvier

Legislating to promote equality

The laws on equality in pay and in the workplace have come a long way since 1972, from the affirmation of the principle of equality to the production of a detailed numerical diagnosis that puts flesh on the bones of inequality (via the Comparative Situation Reports that have been drawn up since 1983 under the Roudy law) as well as to the duty to negotiate. The 2006 law paved the way for hitting recalcitrant companies with financial penalties, as set out in an article in the 2009 law on pensions. There were numerous attempts to limit the scope of the law up to 2012, when things were more or less clarified: companies are now obliged to produce a CSR, which reports annually on the state of inequality in well-defined areas; they must then conduct negotiations on occupational equality and equal pay and, if there is no agreement, they are required to take unilateral action. There are exhaustive controls, with agreements or plans to be filed with the government (no longer on a one-off basis as in the first formulations of the implementing decree). Companies that fail to comply with the law are put on notice to remedy this on pain of financial penalties of up to 1% of payroll. Continue reading “Equality at risk from simplification”

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Oil: carbon for growth

By Céline AntoninBruno Ducoudré, Hervé Péléraux, Christine Rifflart, Aurélien Saussay

This text is based on the special study of the same name [Pétrole : du carbone pour la croissance, in French] that accompanies the OFCE’s 2015-2016 Forecast for the euro zone and the rest of the world.

The 50% fall in the price of Brent between summer 2014 and January 2015 and its continuing low level over the following months is good news for oil-importing economies. In a context of weak growth, this has resulted in a transfer of wealth to the benefit of the net importing countries through the trade balance, which is stimulating growth and fuelling a recovery. Lower oil prices are boosting household purchasing power and driving a rise in consumption and investment in a context where companies’ production costs are down. This has stimulated exports, with the additional demand from other oil-importing economies more than offsetting the slowdown seen in the exporting economies. Continue reading “Oil: carbon for growth”

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Greece on a tightrope

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

This text summarizes the special study, “Greece on a tightrope”

Since early 2015, Greece’s new government has been facing intense pressure. At the very time that it is negotiating to restructure its debt, it is also facing a series of repayment deadlines. On 12 May 2015, 750 million euros was paid to the IMF by drawing on the country’s international reserves, a sign that liquidity constraints are becoming more and more pressing, as is evidenced by the letter sent by Alex Tsipras to Christine Lagarde a few days before the deadline. The respite will be short: in June, the country has to make another payment to the IMF for 1.5 billion euros. These first two deadlines are only a prelude to the “wall of debt” that the government must deal with in the summer when it faces repayments of 6.5 billion euros to the ECB. Continue reading “Greece on a tightrope”

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The planetary alignment has not always been favourable to the euro zone countries

By Eric Heyer and Raul Sampognaro

In 2015, the euro zone economies will benefit from a favourable “planetary alignment” (with the euro and oil prices down and financial constraints on the economy easing), which should trigger a virtuous circle of growth. Over the previous four years (2011-2014), the “planetary alignment” that existed was in a diametrically opposite direction: the euro and oil prices were high, with financing conditions and the fiscal stance very tight.

In a recent article, we propose an evaluation of the impact of these four factors on the economic performance of six major developed countries since 2011 (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and USA). Continue reading “The planetary alignment has not always been favourable to the euro zone countries”

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The British elections: border questions (2/2)

By Catherine Mathieu

David Cameron has put the economy at the forefront of his electoral campaign, making the British economy’s good performance a trump card in the Conservative programme (see “The UK on the eve of elections …“). But, according to the polls, when May 7 comes to a close no party will be able to govern alone. While in 2010, the uncertainty was whether the Liberal Democrats would choose to ally with the Conservatives or the Labour Party, this time there is even greater uncertainty, as several parties are likely to be in a position to swing the outcome. The Liberal Democrats have lost popularity following five years of participation in government and are likely to receive less than 10% of the votes, behind the nationalist United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP, with about 12% of voting intentions), which calls for the United Kingdom to leave the EU and won the last European elections. Continue reading “The British elections: border questions (2/2)”

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The United Kingdom on the eve of elections: The economy, David Cameron’s trump card (1/2)

By Catherine Mathieu

In the countdown to the general elections on 7 May 2015, there is so much suspense that the bookmakers are putting the Conservative Party as winners and Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, as the next Prime Minister! Not only are the Labour Party and the Conservative Party running neck-and-neck in the polls, but with voting intentions fluctuating between 30 and 35% for many months now, neither party seems poised to secure a sufficient majority to govern alone. David Cameron, current PM and leader of the Tories, has placed the British economy at the heart of the election campaign. And the figures do seem rather flattering for the outgoing government with regard to growth, employment, unemployment, public deficit reduction, etc., though there are some less visible weaknesses in the UK economy. Continue reading “The United Kingdom on the eve of elections: The economy, David Cameron’s trump card (1/2)”

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