Should households pay for a competitiveness shock?

By Henri Sterdyniak

France is suffering from an industrial problem. Its current account balance went from a surplus of 2.6% of GDP in 1997 to a deficit of 1% in 2007 and then 2% in 2012, while Germany went from a deficit of 0.4% of GDP in 1997 to a surplus of 5.7%. This raises the issue of France’s industrial recovery. Should a major transfer take place from households to large companies for the purpose of a competitiveness shock or to redress business margins? There are many who advocate such a shock (including the MEDEF, but also the CFDT). This would reduce employers’ social contributions (by at least 30 billion euros) and in return increase levies on households. The issue of France’s industrial recovery is discussed in detail in the latest Note de l’OFCE (No. 24 of 30 October 2012). Continue reading “Should households pay for a competitiveness shock?”

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Long-term competitiveness based on an environmental tax

By Jacques Le Cacheux

“Shock” or “Pact”? The debate over the loss of France’s competitiveness has recently focused on how fast a switchover from employer payroll taxes to another type of financing is being implemented, implying that the principle of doing this has already been established. As France faces a combination of a deteriorating situation in employment and the trade balance, plus growing evidence that its companies are becoming less competitive compared to those of most of our partners [1] and that business margins are alarmingly low for the future, the need to reduce labour costs seems to be clear. But how and how fast are subject to debate. Should there be a rise in the CSG tax, VAT, or other charges, at the risk of reducing the purchasing power of households in an economic context that is already worse than bleak? Continue reading “Long-term competitiveness based on an environmental tax”

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How France can improve its trade balance*

By Eric Heyer

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has made a commitment to restoring France’s balance of trade, excluding energy, by the end of his five-year term. Without addressing the curious anomaly of leaving the energy deficit out of the analysis of the country’s trade position, as if it did not count in France’s dependence on the rest of the world, we will examine the various solutions that the government could use to achieve this goal. Continue reading “How France can improve its trade balance*”

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Competitiveness and industrial demand: The difficulties facing the French-German couple

Jean-Luc Gaffard

The obsession with competitiveness has returned to centre stage with the election campaign. This reflects the reality that French companies are indeed suffering a loss of competitiveness, which is behind the deterioration in foreign trade for almost a decade. This loss is clear vis-à-vis the emerging markets and explains the trend towards relocating abroad. It is also clear vis-à-vis firms from other developed countries, mainly in the euro zone and in particular German companies. This latter situation is especially serious, as it challenges the coherence of European construction (cf. OFCE, note 19: Competitiveness and industrial development: a European challenge in French). Continue reading “Competitiveness and industrial demand: The difficulties facing the French-German couple”

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AAA, AA+: much Ado About no+hing?

by Jérôme Creel

The loss of France’s AAA rating on Friday the 13th ofJanuary 2012 was a historic event. It poses three questions: should the austerity measures announced in autumn 2011 be strengthened? Why has Germany been singled out? And what is to be done now? Continue reading “AAA, AA+: much Ado About no+hing?”

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“Social VAT”: Is it anti-social?

by Jacques Le Cacheux

The prospect of a “social” value added tax, which was raised anew by the President of France on December 31 during his New Year speech, is once again provoking controversy. While the French employers association, the MEDEF, has included this measure in a series of proposed tax changes designed to restore France’s competitiveness, the Left is mostly opposed. It views the “social VAT” as an oxymoron, an antisocial measure that is designed to cut the purchasing power of consumers and hits the poorest among them disproportionately and unfairly. But what exactly are we talking about? And from the viewpoint of taxes on consumption, what is the situation in France relative to its main European partners? Continue reading ““Social VAT”: Is it anti-social?”

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From Trichet to Draghi: Results and prospects

By Christophe Blot and Eric Heyer

During eight years as head of the ECB, we have seen two Jean-Claude Trichets (JCT): one dogmatic, the other pragmatic. What will be the face of his successor, Mario Draghi of Italy, as he takes office during the unprecedented crisis facing the euro zone? Continue reading “From Trichet to Draghi: Results and prospects”

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