Second quarter figures released by France's statistics agency Insee on Friday show a 13.8 percent contraction in the country's economy, less than forecast but the biggest slump since such data became available 70 years ago, and reflects the effects of the lockdown measures to contain the Covid-19 virus which saw a severe decline in manufacturing, construction and consumer spending.
After this week announcing the prolongation of the national lockdown on public movement to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus epidemic, the French government increased to 110 billion euros its financial aid package to cushion the effects of the shutdown. The aid, largely ploughed into helping businesses and paying the tab for their laid-off workforces, includes measures for low-income households and the extension of unemployment benefits for those about to lose them. “We provide responses to all human situations,” claimed labour minister Muriel Pénicaud. But, as Cécile Hautefeuille reports, a recent reform restricting access to the benefits system exposes many tens of thousands of the jobless to financial ruin.
French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe and his finance minster Bruno Le Maire said on Tuesday that the government might nationalise big companies left reeling from the fallout from the Covid-19 virus epidemic, alongside 45 billion euros in emergency measures to help firms weather the storm, on top of 300 billion euros in government loan guarantees, while the state deficit is expected to blow out to 3.9 percent of gross domestic product from a target of 2.2 percent.
The continuing street demonstrations and blockades in France mounted by the so-called 'Yellow Vest' movement demanding an end to falling living standards for lower-income earners has become a 'catastrophe for our economy' said French finance minister Bruno Le Maire as he visited parts of Paris where commercial premises and vehicles were vanadlised during weekend protests.
For the second quarter in a row, France's gross domestic product expanded only 0.2 percent, crashing down from the 0.7 percent rate averaged in 2017, while consumer spending, the country's main growth engine, is faltering, having contracted in the second quarter for the first time in almost two years.
A delegation from the International Monetary Fund, which has met with French government ministers and business figures in Paris, on Monday praised President Emmanuel Macron for what it called an 'ambitious', 'comprehensive' and 'balanced' economic reform plan, which will begin this autumn with an overhaul of labour market regulations.
A bill of law on “transparency, anti-corruption and modernization of economic life” introduces for the first time in France a legal definition and protection of whistleblowers and a provision that companies will have to declare their tax position in countries where they or their subsidiaries operate. But for some MPs and transparency activists, the fine detail of this ambitious law makes it a lost opportunity. Dan Israel reports.
In an interview with CNBC, Angel Gurria said France had introduced 'a number' of reforms but that these will require time to show results.
The British government's haughty comparisons with French economic performance omitted to note that productivity is 27% greater in France.
Emmanuel Macron, whose reforms aim to 'unblock' the French economy, has started legal action against 'certain public officials' after the threats.
The result is because Britain now includes earnings from drugs and prostitution in its GDP figures, which France as yet does not.
Commission predicts below average growth, falling investment, weakening public finances and competitiveness, and deficit rising to 4.7%.
Private market survey reports French manufacturing and service industry activity fell beyond predicted amount in October, despite price cuts.
Recovering to nearly 400,000 after the crisis, annual housing starts fell to 330,000 last year and are set to slump to 300,000 or below this year.