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Covid-19: France and the debt trap

2020-10-04T05:38:59.375Z

While France has been in massive debt since the start of the health crisis, the government assures us that the debt is under control. But



So far, so good.

France repeats this mantra as its debt grows, under the effect of numerous emergency measures and the 100 billion euro recovery plan.

However, the two months of putting the country under cover in the spring cost nearly 6 points of GDP, according to the Banque de France.

At 98.1% of GDP last March, debt rose to 114.1% at the end of June and should climb to 117.5% at the end of the year, before stagnating at 116.2% in 2021, according to plan.

Figures that make you dizzy!

Never since World War II has our country had such a slate.

A situation that could get even worse if the health situation deteriorates.

In a scenario where restrictive measures would increase - which could happen as early as this Monday in Paris - or even in the catastrophic prospect of a new re-containment in the coming weeks, the bill would peak.

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The risk of plunging into a downward spiral is real.

In recent days, the highly respected High Council of Public Finance has sounded the alarm: "In the medium term,

debt

sustainability

becomes a central issue".

Among parliamentarians too, worried voices are raised: "You cannot be seated in a hot air balloon and draw all the energy from it at once", denounces Eric Woerth, the president (LR) of the Finance Committee .

France fears seeing its rating downgraded

In the short term, the danger is almost zero since France borrows at zero interest, put forward those who defend the use of a massive loan.

A very dangerous game according to Mathieu Plane, economist at the French Observatory of Economic Conditions (OFCE).

“Because in the medium term, when rates are raised, the weight of this debt will weigh very heavily.

At that time, solutions will have to be found and that will certainly involve austerity measures, ”he warns.

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As the noose tightens, the government's objective in recent weeks is very clear: to maintain France's reliability in the eyes of the markets at all costs.

And assure them that the State will repay its debts, in fine.

In the jargon, this is called the "signature".

Bruno Le Maire, the Minister of the Economy, recalled it during the presentation of the Budget for 2021. “Those who say that a debt cannot be repaid are irresponsible, vis-à-vis the markets but also of the French signature which could be endangered, ”he said.

This is what threatens France: a degradation of its rating by the rating agencies which sets the tone on the international financial markets.

And thus have to borrow much more expensive.

The situation would then become unsustainable for public finances, while the debt burden is today the second largest budget item for the State.

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“In 2008, France's rating went from AAA to AA,” recalls Mathieu Plane.

If our rating was downgraded, this would be the case for almost all countries.

The objective vis-à-vis the markets is to be less bad than others.

And currently France is almost a safe haven!

In short, this is not the time to play with fire.

Except that the state does not have all the cards in hand.

Because the Italian debt worries a lot.

And if Italy sinks, the domino effect could endanger all of Europe.

Source: leparis

All business articles on 2020-10-04

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