Another domino falls as Hollande pushes France into depression
If French President François Hollande thinks he can assuage the bond markets by dishing out tax-heavy austerity instead of genuine reform, he has been given very bad advice.
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
30 Sep 2012
His tragically-misguided budget offers no strategic plan to reverse — or even to stop — thirty years of slow national decline. He offers no worthwhile measures to slim the Leviathan state, now a Nordic-sized 55pc of GDP, without Nordic labour flexibility or Nordic free markets.
He does not tell us how he will stem the slide in France’s share of eurozone exports over the last decade, down from 17pc to 13pc, or what he will do about the disastrous swing in France’s trade balance from a surplus of 2.5pc of GDP to a deficit of 2.4pc since 1999.
He proposes nothing credible to restore France’s viability within EMU, or to stop public debt spiralling beyond 90pc of GDP. Instead he has served up the most drastic retrenchment in forty years, at the worst possible time, and in the worst possible way. And markets are supposed to applaud?
The budget will tighten discretionary fiscal policy by 2pc of GDP next year into the teeth of deepening depression, without offsetting monetary stimulus or exchange rate relief.
Mr Hollande likes to quote Leon Blum, the Popular Front leader of the interwar years. The reality could hardly be more cruel. He is replicating the disastrous deflation policies of Labour Chancellor Philip Snowden in 1931, before the Labour Party woke up to the delicious possibility that you could lift two fingers to the forces of reaction and leave the Gold Standard.