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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