The French economy: Lasting or transitory slowdown?

By the OFCE France team

On Friday, April 27, the INSEE published the national accounts for the first quarter of 2018. With growth of 0.3%, the French economy seems to be slowing down, even though after five years of sluggish growth (0.8% on average over the period 2012-16) a recovery finally materialized in 2017 when GDP rose 2%. While the quarterly profile of GDP growth in 2018 will be marked by the timing of fiscal measures, which will affect purchasing power (rise in indirect taxation and the CSG tax) and thus the trajectory of household consumption, the impact, which is anticipated in our spring forecast (Table), should be only provisional. Household purchasing power should increase in the following quarters, with a sharp acceleration at the end of the year driven by the fall in the housing tax and the second tranche of reductions in social security contributions. Continue reading “The French economy: Lasting or transitory slowdown?”

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France – the sick man of Europe?

by Mathieu Plane – Economist at OFCE (French Economic Observatory – Sciences Po)

The year 2014 was marked for France by the risk of European Commission sanctions for the failure of its budget to comply with Treaties; by the downgrade by Fitch of French government debt (following the one by S&P a year earlier); by the absence of any sign of a in the unemployment rate; by a rising deficit after four years of consecutive decline; and by the distinction of being the only country in Europe to run a significant current account deficit: economically, it seemed like the country’s worst year since the beginning of the crisis, in  2008. France did not of course go through the kind of recession it did in 2009, when the Eurozone experienced a record fall in GDP (-4.5% and -2.9% for the EMU and for France respectively). But for the first time since the subprime bubble burst, in 2014 French GDP grew more slowly (0.4%) than eurozone average (0.8%). The country’s weakening position is fuelling the view that France may be the new sick man of Europe, a victim of its leaders’ lax fiscal approach and its inability to reform. Is this really the case? Continue reading “France – the sick man of Europe?”

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Recovery aborted

By Christophe Blot

This text draws on the article “Le piège de la déflation: perspectives 2014-2015 pour l’économie mondiale” [The deflation trap: the 2014-2015 outlook for the world economy],  written by Céline Antonin, Christophe Blot, Amel Falah, Sabine Le Bayon, Hervé Péléraux, Christine Rifflart and Xavier Timbeau.

According to a Eurostat press release published on 14 November 2014, euro zone GDP grew by 0.2% in the third quarter of 2014, and inflation stabilized in October at the very low level of 0.4%. Although the prospects of a new recession have receded for now, the IMF evaluates the likelihood of a recession in the euro zone at between 35% and 40%. This dismal prospect reflects the absence of a recovery in the euro zone, which is preventing a rapid reduction in unemployment. What lessons can be drawn? Continue reading “Recovery aborted”

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The strange forecasts of the European Commission for 2014

By Mathieu Plane

The figures for French growth for 2014 published by the European Commission (EC) in its last report in May 2013 appear to reflect a relative consensus. Indeed, the Commission expects GDP to grow by 1.1% in 2014, which is relatively close to the forecasts by the OECD (1.3%) and the IMF (0.9%) (Table 1). However, these forecasts of broadly similar growth hide some substantial differences. First, in defining future fiscal policy, the Commission, unlike the other institutions, considers only the measures already approved. Continue reading “The strange forecasts of the European Commission for 2014”

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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. Continue reading “France’s Stability Programme: the missing line”

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Revising the multipliers and revising the forecasts – From talk to action?

By Bruno Ducoudré

Following on the heels of the IMF and the European Commission (EC), the OECD has also recently made a downward revision in its forecast for GDP growth in the euro zone in 2012 (-0.4%, against -0.1% in April 2012) and in 2013 (0.1%, against 0.9% in April 2012). In its latest forecasting exercise, the OECD says it now shares with the other international institutions (the IMF [i] and EC [ii]) the idea that the multipliers are currently high in the euro zone [iii]: the simultaneous implementation of fiscal austerity throughout the euro zone while the economy is already in trouble, combined with a European Central Bank that has very little leeway to cut its key interest rate further, is increasing the impact of the ongoing fiscal consolidation on economic activity. Continue reading “Revising the multipliers and revising the forecasts – From talk to action?”

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Why has French growth been revised downwards?

By Bruno Ducoudré and Eric Heyer

In its October 2012 forecasts, the OFCE has revised its growth forecast for 2012 and 2013. The major international institutions, the OECD, the IMF and the European Commission, also regularly review their growth forecasts to incorporate newly available information. An analysis of these revised forecasts is particularly interesting in that it shows that these institutions use low fiscal multipliers in developing their forecasts. In other words, the recessionary impact of fiscal policy has been underestimated by the OECD, the IMF and the European Commission, leading to substantial revisions of their growth forecasts, as is evidenced by the dramatic shifts by the IMF and the European Commission in the size of the multipliers. Continue reading “Why has French growth been revised downwards?”

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France: will the war of the 3% take place?

By Eric Heyer

This text summarizes the OFCE’s October 2012 forecasts for the French economy.

The French economy is expected to see average annual growth of 0.1% in 2012 and 0.0% in 2013. This performance is particularly poor and far from the path that an economy recovering from a crisis would normally experience. Continue reading “France: will the war of the 3% take place?”

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The debacle of austerity

By Xavier Timbeau

This text summarizes the OFCE’s October 2012 forecasts.

The year 2012 is ending, with hopes for an end to the crisis disappointed. After a year marked by recession, the euro zone will go through another catastrophic year in 2013 (a -0.1% decline in GDP in 2013, after -0.5% in 2012, according to our forecasts – see the table). The UK is no exception to this trend, as it plunges deeper into crisis (-0.4% in 2012, 0.3% in 2013). In addition to the figures for economic growth, unemployment trends are another reminder of the gravity of the situation. With the exception of Germany and a few other developed countries, the Western economies have been hit by high unemployment that is persisting or, in the euro zone, even rising (the unemployment rate will reach 12% in the euro zone in 2013, up from 11.2% in the second quarter of 2012). This persistent unemployment is leading to a worsening situation for those who have lost their jobs, as some fall into the ranks of the long-term unemployed and face the exhaustion of their rights to compensation. Although the United States is experiencing more favourable economic growth than in the euro zone, its labour market clearly illustrates that the US economy is mired in the Great Recession. Continue reading “The debacle of austerity”

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The irresistible attraction to recession

By Hervé Péléraux

Here is the leading indicator for the French economy, updated to 30 January 2011.

The February forecasts of the leading indicator significantly worsened the outlook for the French economy at the turn of 2011 and 2012. Continue reading “The irresistible attraction to recession”

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