The Economist this week has a 14-page special report this week in its print edition that focuses on France, from its economy to politics, under the central theme of how economic structural reform is necessary in order to avoid a “time bomb” going off at the heart of the Eurozone. You can access the Nov. 17, 2012 print edition contents here. The leader article introducing the special report is here, and the special report link can be found at the table of contents site under “Special report: France” (there are 8 articles).
I’m delving into all this right now and encourage you to do the same. Even if you don’t agree with the magazine’s analysis, it is a highly-regarded publication for a reason: for asking important questions.
This is the not the first time the British news magazine has waxed poetic about France’s economic woes and potential for growth. Indeed, French economic and business paper Les Echos puts past covers and stories into perspective (in French).
What do you think are France’s biggest problems and do you think Hollande and Ayrault’s government can solve them?
I wrote up a piece for Bonjour Paris covering this diverse topics. You can read the article here.
BBC has a fantastic guide to an otherwise discouraging subject: the debt and deficit levels in the Eurozone. As you can see, France’s national debt is at 77.6% of GDP, and its deficit is 7.5%, which makes it about the middle of the Eurozone and enough for major concern.
One of the main causes of the currency crisis in the eurozone is that virtually all countries involved have breached their own self-imposed rules.
Under the convergence criteria adopted as part of economic and monetary union, government debt must not exceed 60% of GDP at the end of the fiscal year. Likewise, the annual government deficit must not exceed 3% of GDP. However, as the maps show, only two of the 16 eurozone countries – Luxembourg and Finland – have managed to stick to both rules.
Overall, Greece is the worst offender, with debt at 115.1% of GDP and a deficit of 13.6% of GDP. But among the bigger economies, Italy’s debt is even higher than Greece’s as a percentage of GDP, while Spain’s deficit is 11.2% of GDP. If the UK were in the eurozone, it would also fall foul of the criteria, with its debt now standing at 68.1% of GDP and its deficit at 11.5% of GDP.