The responsibility pact’s obligation of a result

By Xavier Timbeau, @XTimbeau, OFCE

The original French text was published in the “Rebonds” section of the newspaper Libération on 28 February 2014.

Is the policy supply-side or demand-side? This debate takes us back decades to a time when the advocates of supply-side policy, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, wanted to put Keynesian practices into the closet. With respect to the responsibility pact, the debate is moot. There is a clear diagnosis that companies are suffering from such low margin rates that their very survival is threatened. The losses of market share since the 2000s cannot be explained solely by the transition to a post-industrial society. It is thus a priority to boost corporate margins by whatever means necessary. But the restoration of business margins will not be sufficient to put them back on a path of increasing productivity, ensuring their competitiveness in the medium term. Getting back on this path will require numerous reforms, ranging from a better education system to a stable tax system that is as neutral as possible, while making use of the impact of agglomeration and specialization. Coordinating everyone’s projects around a comprehensive strategy to make the energy transition is also a powerful instrument. But the responsibility pact remains silent on this. Continue reading “The responsibility pact’s obligation of a result”

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Important change of course at the Elysée Palace. Austerity is no longer the priority

By Xavier Timbeau, Twitter: @XTimbeau

(published in Le Monde on Thursday 16 January 2014, p. 17)

When he was elected François Hollande made fiscal discipline his main goal. The 2008 crisis was continuing to have an impact on the developed economies; in the face of a sovereign debt crisis, Europe’s governments had been implementing austerity measures that were to cause a second recession, a “double dip”, to use the language of economists. For example, when François Hollande came to power, the situation in France seemed disastrous: the public deficit was 5.2%, with a rise in the public debt of more than 600 billion euros since 2008 along with a 2-point rise in unemployment (to 9.6% of the workforce). The pressure was intense, and, the euro zone states were falling like dominos, with Spain and Italy in danger of following Greece, Portugal and Ireland. In this context, it seemed that only budgetary discipline could help Germany to support a faltering euro zone. Continue reading “Important change of course at the Elysée Palace. Austerity is no longer the priority”

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