How can Europe be saved? How can the paradigm be changed?

By Xavier Ragot

There are new inflections in the debate over the construction of Europe. New options from a variety of economic and political perspectives have seen the light of day in several key conferences and workshops, though without the visibility of public statements. The debate is livelier in Germany than in France. This is due probably to the caricature of a debate that took place during France’s presidential elections, which took the form of “for or against the single currency”, while the debate needed was over how to orient the euro area’s institutions to serve growth and deal with inequalities. Continue reading “How can Europe be saved? How can the paradigm be changed?”

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European unemployment insurance

By Léo Aparisi de Lannoy and Xavier Ragot

The return of growth cannot eradicate the memory of how the crisis was mismanaged at the European level economically, but also socially and politically. The divergences between euro area countries in unemployment rates, current account balances and public debts are at levels unprecedented for decades. New steps in European governance must aim for greater economic efficiency in reducing unemployment and inequalities while explaining and justifying the financial and political importance of these measures in order to render them compatible with national policy choices. The establishment of a European unemployment insurance meets these criteria. Continue reading “European unemployment insurance”

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“The economic negationism” of Cahuc and Zylberberg: the first-order economy

By Xavier Ragot

The book by Pierre Cahuc and André Zylberberg[1] is an injunction to take scientific truths about economics into account in the public debate, in the face of interventions that conceal private and ideological interests. The book contains interesting descriptions of the results of recent empirical work using natural experiments for the purpose of evaluating economic policies in the field of education, tax policy, the reduction of working hours, etc.

However, assertions in the book that are at the borderline of reason ultimately make it a caricature that is probably counter-productive. More than just the debate over the 35-hour working week or France’s CICE tax credit, what is at stake is the status of economic knowledge in the public debate. Continue reading ““The economic negationism” of Cahuc and Zylberberg: the first-order economy”

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What Donald Trump’s economic programme reveals

By Xavier Ragot

The US elections are proving to be very revealing. Three different perspectives on the current elections are yielding insights into three areas: first, on the state of the US economy, second, on the state of the thinking of economists, and finally, on the nature of the relationship between economists and politicians.

The US primaries were marked by both the “resistible rise” of Donald Trump and the emergence of Bernie Sanders, who has hit Hilary Clinton from the left but failed to win. Continue reading “What Donald Trump’s economic programme reveals”

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Slowing growth: due to the supply side?

By Jérôme Creel and Xavier Ragot

The weakness of the recovery in 2014 and 2015 raises the need for a structural re-examination of the state of France’s productive fabric. Indeed, an analysis of investment dynamics, the trade balance, productivity gains and business margins, and to a lesser extent companies’ access to credit, indicates the existence of some disturbing trends since the early noughties. In addition, the persistence of the crisis inevitably poses the question of the unravelling of France’s productive fabric since 2007 due to a combination of low growth, weak investment and numerous bankruptcies.

The contributions gathered in Revue de l’OFCE no.142 have a double ambition: first, to put France’s businesses and economic sectors at the heart of reflection about the ins and outs of the current slowdown in growth, and second, to question the basis for theoretical analyses of future growth in light of the situation of France and Europe. Based on the various contributions, nine conclusions emerge: Continue reading “Slowing growth: due to the supply side?”

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Wage moderation in Germany – at the origin of France’s economic difficulties

By Xavier Ragot, President of the OFCE, CNRS-PSE, together with Mathilde Le Moigne, ENS

If the future of the euro zone does indeed depend on political cooperation between France and Germany, then economic divergences between the two countries should be a cause for concern. These divergences need to be analysed, with particular attention to three specific areas: the unemployment rate, the trade balance and the public debt. Germany’s unemployment rate is falling steadily; in June it was under the 5% mark, which represents almost full employment, whereas the French rate is over 10%. Germany’s low unemployment rate does not however reflect strong consumption by German households, but rather the country’s export capacity. While France continues to run a negative trade balance (importing more than it exports), Germany is now the world’s leading exporter, ahead of China, with a trade surplus that will run close to 8% in 2015. As for the public deficit, it will be around 3.8% in France in 2015, while Germany is now generating a surplus. This has impressive consequences for the way the public debt is changing in the two countries. In 2010 they were similar, at around 80% of GDP, but in 2014 Germany’s public debt fell below 75%, and is continuing to decline, while France’s debt has continued to grow, and has now hit 97%. This kind of gap is unprecedented in recent times, and is fraught with mounting tension over the conduct of monetary policy. Continue reading “Wage moderation in Germany – at the origin of France’s economic difficulties”

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The erosion of France’s productive base: causes and remedies

Xavier Ragot, President of the OFCE and the CNRS

The deindustrialization of France, and more generally the difficulties facing sectors exposed to international competition, reflects trends that have been at work in France and in Europe for more than a decade. Indeed, while the strictly financial moment when the crisis struck in 2007 was the result of the bursting of the American real estate bubble, the scale of its impact on Europe’s economy cannot be understood without looking at vulnerabilities that have previously been neglected.

In “Érosion du tissu productif en France: Causes et remèdes”, OFCE working document no. 2015-04, Michel Aglietta and I offer a summary of both the microeconomic and macroeconomic factors behind this productive drift. Such a synthesis is essential. Before proposing any policy changes for France, it is necessary to make a coherent diagnosis of major trends in international trade as well as of the real situation of France’s productive fabric. Continue reading “The erosion of France’s productive base: causes and remedies”

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