Will France follow suit with the United States, whose economy has returned to its pre-crisis level? Not yet, but it is on track, according to figures released Friday, July 30 by the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (Insee). The second quarter indeed marks a significant improvement in activity, with gross domestic product (GDP) increasing by 0.9%, a slightly higher rate than expected. In addition, the previous quarters would be slightly better than what national statisticians initially estimated. In the fourth quarter of 2020, activity would have fallen only by 1%, instead of 1.5%, and in the first quarter of 2021, it would have remained perfectly flat (0% instead of – 0.1%).
These upward revisions and the good figure for the second quarter prompted the Minister of the Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, to react to France Inter. The “Exceptional performance of the French economy” should allow it to return to its pre-crisis level in early 2022, he insisted. The growth overhang achieved at the end of the first half (4.8%) makes the 6% target set for 2021 achievable.
Insee experts prefer to remain more cautious in their forecasts. Julien Pouget, head of the conjuncture department, notes two points of “Vigilance “: That the health situation does not deteriorate under the influence of the new variants and that the persistent tensions on the supply of raw materials or components in certain sectors do not worsen further, because they have already “ started to bite into production, especially in the automotive industry ”.
Other economists observe the same reservation, but made some reassuring calculations. Barring a disaster, the evolution of the Delta variant should not hamper activity excessively. “ The indicators are green: confidence is there, order books are full, and the situation is all the more favorable since household incomes have been preserved during the crisis “, Notes Selin Ozyurt, economist at Euler Hermes, where we maintain the growth forecast of 5.4% for France this year. “ Insofar as health restrictions would remain light and localized, the negative effect of the Delta variant on growth would be moderate, in the order of – 0.5 percentage point of GDP by the end of the year. ” The weight in the economy of sectors whose activity could be affected by the implementation of the health pass is also low: for example, sports, recreation and leisure activities represent only 0.2% of total added value, creative, leisure and entertainment activities, 0.1%.
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