And what if the austerity budget has succeeded better in France than elsewhere? [1]

By Mathieu Plane

Faced with a rapid and explosive deterioration in their public accounts, the industrialized countries, particularly in Europe, have implemented large-scale austerity policies, some as early as 2010, in order to quickly reduce their deficits. In a situation like this, several questions about France’s fiscal policy need to be examined:

– First, has France made a greater or lesser fiscal effort than other OECD countries to deal with its public accounts?

– Second, is there a singularity in the fiscal austerity policy implemented by France and has it had more or less effect on growth and the level of unemployment? Continue reading “And what if the austerity budget has succeeded better in France than elsewhere? [1]”

Share Button

Why France is right to abandon the 3% public déficit target by 2013

By Mathieu Plane

Given the statements by the Minister of Economy and Finance, the government seems to have reached a decision to abandon the goal of a deficit of 3% of GDP by 2013. In addition to the change of tack in the policy announced up to now, which was to bring the deficit down to 3% by 2013 “whatever the cost”, we can legitimately conclude that France is right to abandon this goal, and we offer several arguments for this. Continue reading “Why France is right to abandon the 3% public déficit target by 2013”

Share Button

So far so good …

By Christophe Blot

The euro zone is still in recession. According to Eurostat, GDP fell again in the fourth quarter of 2012 (‑0.6%). This figure, which was below expectations, is the worst quarterly performance in the euro zone since the first quarter of 2009, and it is also the fifth consecutive quarter of a decline in activity. For 2012 as a whole, GDP decreased by 0.5%. This annual figure masks substantial heterogeneity in the zone (Figures 1 and 2), since Germany posted annual growth of 0.9% while for the second consecutive year Greece is likely to suffer a recession of more than 6%. Moreover, taking all the countries together, the growth rate will be lower in 2012 than in 2011, and some countries (Spain and Italy to name but two) will sink deeper into depression. This performance is all the more worrying as several months of renewed optimism had aroused hopes that the euro zone was recovering from the crisis. Were there grounds for such hope? Continue reading “So far so good …”

Share Button

Is the euro crisis over?

By Catherine Mathieu and Henri Sterdyniak

As of early 2013, it is possible to make two contrasting assessments of the crisis. On the one hand, the euro has survived. Europe’s institutions and Member states have of course been slow and hesitant to react, and their reluctance has often fueled speculation. But its institutions have gradually managed to develop solidarity mechanisms, such as the European Financial Stability Facility and then the European Stability Mechanism, and they were able to impose strong fiscal discipline on Member states (strengthening the Stability and Growth Pact, adjustment programs, fiscal treaty). Continue reading “Is the euro crisis over?”

Share Button

The euro zone in crisis

By Catherine Mathieu and Henri Sterdyniak

The 9th EUROFRAME Conference [1], which was held in Kiel on 8 June 2012, focused on economic policy issues in the European Union. The topic was “The euro zone in crisis: Challenges for monetary and fiscal policies”. Issue 127 of the “Débats et Politiques” collection of the OFCE Revue has published revised versions of twelve papers presented in the Conference[2], gathered in five themes: exchange rate imbalances, indicators of the debt crisis, budget rules, banking and financial issues, and strategies for resolving the crisis. Continue reading “The euro zone in crisis”

Share Button

Could France have a different fiscal policy?

By Jérôme Creel

Shouldn’t the economic crisis that is gripping the euro zone, including France, lead to calling into question the approach being taken by fiscal policy? In light of the unprecedented broad consensus among economists about the impact of fiscal policy on the real economy, it is clear that the austerity measures being adopted by France are a mistake. Moreover, invoking European constraints is not a good enough argument to exclude a much more gradual process of putting the public purse in order (also see the iAGS project). Continue reading “Could France have a different fiscal policy?”

Share Button

Has monetary policy become ineffective?

By Christophe Blot, Catherine Mathieu and Christine Rifflart

This text summarizes the special study of the October 2012 forecast.

Since the summer of 2007, the central banks of the industrialized countries have intervened regularly to counter the negative impact of the financial crisis on the functioning of the banking and financial system and to help kick-start growth. Initially, key interest rates were lowered considerably, and then maintained at a level close to 0 [1]. In a second phase, from the beginning of 2009, the central banks implemented what are called unconventional measures. While these policies may differ from one central bank to another, they all result in an increase in the size of their balance sheets as well as a change in the composition of their balance sheet assets. However, three years after the economies in the United States, the euro zone and the United Kingdom hit bottom, it is clear that recovery is still a ways off, with unemployment at a high level everywhere. In Europe, a new recession is threatening [2]. Does this call into question the effectiveness of monetary policy and of unconventional measures more specifically? Continue reading “Has monetary policy become ineffective?”

Share Button

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”

Share Button

Banking union: a solution to the euro crisis?

By Maylis Avaro and Henri Sterdyniak

The European summit on 28th and 29th June marked a new attempt by Europe’s institutions and Member states to overcome the crisis in the euro zone. A so-called Growth Pact was adopted, but it consists mainly of commitments by the Member states to undertake structural reform, and the limited funds made available (120 billion over several years) were for the most part already planned. The strategy of imposing restrictive fiscal policies was not called into question, and France pledged to ratify the Fiscal Compact. The interventions of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) will now be less rigid, as, without additional conditions, they can help countries that the financial markets refuse to finance so long as they meet their objectives in terms of fiscal policy and structural reform. But euro-bonds and the mutual guarantee of public debt were postponed. The summit also launched a new project: a banking union. Is this an essential supplement to monetary union, or is it a new headlong rush into the unknown? Continue reading “Banking union: a solution to the euro crisis?”

Share Button

Would returning to the drachma be an overwhelming tragedy?

by Céline Antonin

Following the vote in the Greek parliamentary elections on 17 June 2012, the spectre of the country leaving the euro zone has been brushed aside, at least for a while. However, the idea is not completely buried, and it is still being evoked in Greece and by various political forces around the euro zone. This continues to pose the question of the cost of a total default by Greece for its creditors, foremost among them France. The analysis published in the latest OFCE Note (No. 20, 19 June 2012) shows that, despite the magnitude of the potential losses, several factors could mitigate the consequences for the euro zone countries of a default by the Greek state. Continue reading “Would returning to the drachma be an overwhelming tragedy?”

Share Button