France economy crisis: Yellow vest protests to send growth DOWN in ‘economic catastrophe’

Monday, January 7, 2019
By Paul Martin

FRANCE’S yellow vest protest is sending shockwaves through the French economy, with the country’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire blaming riots for a drop in growth.

Mon, Jan 7, 2019

Violent rioters joined protesters on Saturday for an eighth weekend of anti-government protests across the country, with trouble showing no sign of slowing. About 50,000 people took part in protests in France, with demonstrations turning violent in towns and cities including Paris, Nantes and Rouen. The anti-government protesters used a forklift truck to force their way into a government ministry compound, torched cars and motorbikes parked near the Champs Elysées avenue and punched and kicked riot police officers to the ground.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s spokesman Benjamin Griveaux even had to flee his office after it was stormed by protesters.

Mr Le Maire condemned the protests telling Europe 1 radio, TV channel Cnews and newspaper Les Echos: “The yellow vest crisis has a high economic price.

“I already warned that the crisis would shave 0.1 percentage points off growth in the final quarter [of 2018], and this result is still likely.”

He said it was in “everyone’s interest that the crisis comes to an end as quickly as possible”.

Last month, Mr Le Maire said the weeks of unrest were an “economic catastrophe”.

The Bank of France confirmed his fears, saying shortly after that the economy would eke out growth of only 0.2 per cent in the final quarter from the previous three months, down from 0.4 per cent in previous estimates.

The slowdown is a major blow to President Emmanuel Macron’s reformist credentials, and will put further pressure on public finances.

What began in mid-November as a citizen-led rebellion against planned fuel tax hikes has ballooned into a much broader expression of frustration over declining buying power and a rejection of Mr Macron’s pro-market policies, which are said to favour the rich over the poor.

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