Never on Sunday?*

By Xavier Timbeau

* Note from the editor: This text was initially published on 10 June 2008 on the OFCE site under the heading “Clair & net” [Clear & net] at a time when working on Sundays was a burning issue. As this is once again a hot topic, we are republishing this text by Xavier Timbeau, which has not lost its relevance.

In Jules Dassin’s cult film, Ilya, a prostitute working a port near Athens, never works on Sunday. Today, according to the Enquête emploi labour force survey, nearly one-third of French workers say they occasionally work on Sunday and nearly one out of six does so regularly. As in most countries, Sunday work is regulated by a complex and restrictive set of legislation (see  here) and is limited to certain sectors (in France, the food trade, the hotel and catering industry, 24/7 non-stop manufacturing, health and safety, transport, certain tourist areas) or is subject to a municipal or prefectural authorization for a limited number of days per year. This legislation, which dates back more than a century, has already been widely adapted to the realities and needs of the times, but is regularly called into question. Continue reading “Never on Sunday?*”

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The onset of deflation

By Xavier Timbeau

This text summarizes the April 2013 forecasts of the OFCE.

The global economic and financial crisis that began in late 2008 is now entering its fifth year. For the European Union, 2012 has been another year of recession, showing just how much the prospect of an end to the crisis, heralded so many times, has been contradicted by economic developments. Our forecasts for 2013 and 2014 can be summarized rather ominously: the developed countries will remain mired in a vicious circle of rising unemployment, protracted recession and growing doubts about the sustainability of public finances. Continue reading “The onset of deflation”

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What is the value of the fiscal multipliers today?

By Xavier Timbeau

We inherited higher public deficits and greatly increased public debts from the crisis (Table 1). Reducing these will require a major fiscal effort. But a programme that is too brutal and too fast will depress activity and prolong the crisis, not only compromising the fiscal consolidation effort but also locking the economies into a recessionary spiral. The value of the fiscal multiplier (the link between fiscal policy and economic activity) both in the short term and in the long term is thus a critical parameter for stabilizing the public finances and returning to full employment.  Continue reading “What is the value of the fiscal multipliers today?”

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Pigeons: how to tax entrepreneurial income? (2/2)

By Guillaume Allègre and Xavier Timbeau

After having proposed in the 2013 Budget Bill to tax gains from the sale of securities at the progressive scale used by France’s income tax, and no longer at a proportional rate of 19%, the government has now promised to correct its course, under the pressure of a group of entrepreneurs who rallied on the social networks under the hashtag #geonpi (“pigeons”, using French verlan slang, which inverts syllables). An amendement proposed by the government introduces an exemption from the income tax rate on the condition of a specified period of ownership (2 years), a percentage of ownership of the shares (10% of voting rights) and status as an employee or director. Entrepreneurs will thus remain subject to the proportional tax rate of 19%. In a first post, we described how capital gains should be taxed in an equitable way with levies on income from work. In what conditions could entrepreneurs and people with a significant stake in a company justify special treatment of their gains from the sale of securities? Continue reading “Pigeons: how to tax entrepreneurial income? (2/2)”

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Pigeons: how to tax capital gains (1/2)

By Guillaume Allègre and Xavier Timbeau

After having proposed in the 2013 Budget Bill to tax gains from the sale of securities at the progressive scale used by France’s income tax, and no longer at a proportional rate of 19%, the government has now promised to correct its work under the pressure of a group of entrepreneurs who rallied on the social networks under the hashtag #geonpi (“pigeons”, using French verlan slang, which inverts syllables). An amendment to the Bill was passed to this effect. Here we discuss the equitable taxation of capital gains on securities. In a second post, we will discuss the specificity of entrepreneurship. Continue reading “Pigeons: how to tax capital gains (1/2)”

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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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Must we choose between saving the planet and exiting the crisis?

By Xavier Timbeau

It is up to our generation and those that follow to find a way for 10 billion people to live decently and sustainably on a planet with finite resources and capacities. As a decent standard of living requires a mode of consumption closer to that of our Western societies than the deprivation that afflicts a large part of the world’s inhabitants, the task is immense – but failure is unacceptable. All this requires us to curb climate change, to anticipate falling agricultural yields, to prepare for the impact of rising sea levels, to adapt, and to halt the destruction of biomass and biodiversity while taking into account the depletion of natural resources, whether renewable or not. The list of constraints is long, and unfortunately it does not stop with these few examples (the interested reader can profit from reading the OFCE’s previous work on this subject). Continue reading “Must we choose between saving the planet and exiting the crisis?”

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Friends of acronyms, here comes the OMT

By Jérôme Creel and Xavier Timbeau

We had the OMD with its Orchestral Manœuvres in the Dark, and now the OMT with its Orchestral Manœuvres in the [liquidity] Trap, or more precisely, “Outright Monetary Transactions”, which is undoubtedly clearer. The OMT is a potentially effective mechanism that gives the European Central Bank (ECB) the means to intervene massively in the euro zone debt crisis so as to limit the differences between interest rates on euro zone government bonds. The possibility that a country that comes into conflict with its peers might leave the euro zone still exists, but if there is a common desire to preserve the euro then the ECB can intervene and play a role comparable to that of the central banks of other major states. Opening this door towards an escape route from the euro zone’s sovereign debt crisis has given rise to great hope. Nevertheless, certain elements, such as conditionality, could quickly pose problems. Continue reading “Friends of acronyms, here comes the OMT”

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Social action, but no end of the crisis

Evaluation of the five-year economic programme (2012-2017)

By Eric Heyer, Mathieu Plane, Xavier Timbeau

The initial decisions of the five-year programme are coming amidst an extremely difficult and very uncertain economic situation. In a recent OFCE Note (No. 23 of 26 July 2012), we first analyze the macroeconomic context for François Hollande’s five-year programme and the XIVth legislature. This analysis details the likely consequences for the next five years of the strategy currently being implemented in Europe. We evaluate both the cost to the public finances as well as the impact on economic activity, employment and the distribution of income. In part two, we analyze the public policy choices being given priority by the new government, including both those aimed at the young (generation contracts, jobs of the future), at some seniors (revision of the pension reform), and at the middle and lower classes (allowance for the start of school, boost to the minimum wage, Livret A bank accounts, rent control, revised taxation of overtime), as well as those intended to revive certain public expenditures that are deemed essential (public jobs in education, the justice system and the police in the “public finance” section, and public early childhood services). Continue reading “Social action, but no end of the crisis”

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Financing higher education: Should students have to pay?

By Guillaume Allègre and Xavier Timbeau

Is it necessary to ensure that a greater portion of the cost of higher education is borne by students in the form of higher tuition fees, which might or might not be coupled with loans? It is often argued that financing higher education through taxes is anti-redistributive. We show in a working document that from a life cycle perspective proportional taxation is not anti-redistributive. Continue reading “Financing higher education: Should students have to pay?”

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