Japan’s reconstruction: constrained by the deterioration in public finances

By Bruno Ducoudré

Following the earthquake that hit Japan in March 2011, the government estimated the cost of the loss at 16.9 trillion yen (3.6 points of GDP). The response in terms of the structural deficit needed to deal with this exogenous shock conflicts with the government’s desire to implement an austerity policy to reduce the deficit. The additional financing requirements are thus coming at the worst possible time, amidst the economic crisis that began in 2008, which has been accompanied by a sharp deterioration in public finances due to the need to prop up the economy. Continue reading “Japan’s reconstruction: constrained by the deterioration in public finances”

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Underlying deflation

Christophe Blot, Marion Cochard, Bruno Ducoudré and Eric Heyer

A look at the latest statistics on price trends indicates that the risk of deflation seems to have given way to renewed inflation in the major developed countries. So do we really need to fear the return of inflation, or are these economies still structurally deflationary? Continue reading “Underlying deflation”

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The misfortunes of virtue*

By Christophe Blot

* This text summarizes the outlook produced by the Department of Analysis and Forecasting for the euro zone economy in 2012-2013, which is available in French on the OFCE web site

The euro zone is still in crisis: an economic crisis, a social crisis and a fiscal crisis. The 0.3% decline in GDP in the fourth quarter of 2011 is a reminder that the recovery that began after the great drop of 2008-2009 is fragile and that the euro zone has taken the first step into recession, which will be confirmed in early 2012. Continue reading “The misfortunes of virtue*”

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He who sows austerity reaps recession

By the Department of Analysis and Forecasting, headed by X. Timbeau

This article summarizes OFCE note no.16 that gives the outlook on the global economy for 2012-2013.

The sovereign debt crisis has passed its peak. Greece’s public debt has been restructured and, at the cost of a default, will fall from 160% of GDP to 120%. This restructuring has permitted the release of financial support from the Troika to Greece, which for the time being solves the problem of financing the renewal of the country’s public debt. The contagion that hit most euro zone countries, and which was reflected in higher sovereign rates, has been stopped. Tension has eased considerably since the beginning of 2012, and the risk that the euro zone will break up has been greatly reduced, at least in the short term. Nevertheless, the process of the Great Recession that began in 2008 being transformed into a very Great Recession has not been interrupted by the temporary relief of the Greek crisis. Continue reading “He who sows austerity reaps recession”

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Yes, the national accounts will be revised after the election

By Hervé Péléraux and Lionel Persyn[1]

In a Europe that is heading more and more clearly towards a recession, in mid-February the INSEE reported a 0.2% rise in France’s GDP. This fourth-quarter performance was surprising, as it contrasts sharply with the deterioration in the economic climate since summer 2011, which indicated that GDP growth would be less favourable than that announced. Continue reading “Yes, the national accounts will be revised after the election”

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The irresistible attraction to recession

By Hervé Péléraux

Here is the leading indicator for the French economy, updated to 30 January 2011.

The February forecasts of the leading indicator significantly worsened the outlook for the French economy at the turn of 2011 and 2012. Continue reading “The irresistible attraction to recession”

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Working hours and economic performance: What lessons can be drawn from the Coe-Rexecode report?

By Eric Heyer and Mathieu Plane

Do people work less in France than in the rest of Europe? Is France the only country to have reduced working hours in the last decade? Is the 35-hour work week really dragging down the French economy? The report published on 11 January by the Coe-Rexecode Institute provides fresh material for answering these questions.

We have produced a note on the main conclusions of the report, which can be summarized as follows: Continue reading “Working hours and economic performance: What lessons can be drawn from the Coe-Rexecode report?”

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AAA, AA+: much Ado About no+hing?

by Jérôme Creel

The loss of France’s AAA rating on Friday the 13th ofJanuary 2012 was a historic event. It poses three questions: should the austerity measures announced in autumn 2011 be strengthened? Why has Germany been singled out? And what is to be done now? Continue reading “AAA, AA+: much Ado About no+hing?”

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The very great recession

Economic outlook updated for the major developed countries in 2012

OFCE Department of Analysis and Forecasting, under the direction of Xavier Timbeau

The growth outlook for the developed countries, in Europe in particular, have deteriorated dramatically in recent weeks. The “voluntary and negotiated” devaluation of Greek sovereign debt securities, which is really nothing but a sovereign default, the wave of budget cuts being announced even as budget bills are still debated, the inability of the European Union to mobilize its forces to deal with the crisis – all these factors render the forecasts made two months ago obsolete. For many European countries, including France, 2012 will be a year of recession. Continue reading “The very great recession”

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Fiscal consolidation wrong-footed

By Sabine Le Bayon

Should deficit reduction be the priority of governments today?

The constraints imposed by the Stability Pact and especially by the financial markets on Europe’s governments do not leave them much leeway. But while there is no avoiding the issue of the sustainability of public debt, we also need to take into account the recessionary impact of austerity programs on economic activity, particularly during a period of recovery. Continue reading “Fiscal consolidation wrong-footed”

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