The Economic Cycle in France and French Economic Policy

Growth in France is set to come to 1.8% in 2017 and 1.7% in 2018. From today’s standpoint, these figures look high as trend growth for the French economy came to slightly more than 1.1% on a yearly basis between 2013 and the third quarter of 2017, making 2017 and 2018 look like good vintages. However, a comparison with the pre-crisis period is harsh. Trend growth for the French economy stood at 1.8% over the period between 2000 and 2008 and could go well beyond this figure, which equates to the cycle peak in today’s economy.
The extent of the economic cycle provided leeway for all concerned as growth could go well beyond this trend, e.g. coming out at 4% in 2000. French economic policy at the time did not generally view this cycle peak as an opportunity to adopt a more restrictive strategy, and France as a whole was unable to reduce imbalances when growth was strong, particularly from a budgetary standpoint. The French budget “funding pot” concept, invented during periods of vigorous growth, was used to justify all sorts of spending on the back of higher budget revenues. Continue reading

The French economic cycle and economic policy ahead of the elections

This is my weekly column for http://www.forbes.fr.  Here You can find the original in French

Since the financial crisis in 2008, trend growth has slowed down sharply across western countries.
The chart below tracks 10-year average annual growth in the US and France since 1960. In the 1960s and 1970s, French growth was very robust and considerably outstripped figures in the US, as France enjoyed a phase of catching up on growth as compared to the United States. In the mid-70s, this “catch-up” momentum came to a halt, productivity gains declined and growth slowed sharply to reach a steady trend of around 2%. US growth was slightly higher on average and displayed a more stable pace with a trajectory of around 3% until 2007.
Comp-France-USA-LT-Growth10a
Continue reading

Growth Comparison between the US and the Euro Area – The difference is not so important

We can first compare the situation at the beginning of 2015 with the level of activity recorded in the first half of 2008. Taking this period as a reference before the break associated with the Lehman crisis, the United-States are significantly doing better than the Eurozone. The former have a GDP which higher by 9% compared to the reference period, while the euro zone is still contracting by -1.3%. There is no doubt the US has done significantly better than the Euro Area. This is what the first graph shows. Continue reading