Bruno Le Maire, France’s Minister of the Economy and Finance offering his bleak assessment during a hearing of the Senate Economic Affairs Committee on Monday, which he indicated a recession was looming. He explained: “The worst growth figure in France since 1945 was in 2009 after the great financial crisis of 2008: -2.2 percent. “We will probably be far beyond -2.2 percent this year.
“This shows the extent of the economic shock we are facing.”
In keeping with large areas of the world, most sectors of France’s economy are effectively closed down in the midst of the lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.
An amended budget ratified last month was based on a projected one percent recession in 2020.
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This shows the extent of the economic shock we are facing
Bruno Le Maire
However, within days, Mr Le Maire was forced to admit this was a massive underestimate, and that the damage to France’s economy would be vastly bigger.
Speaking yesterday, Mr Le Maire said European countries must rise to meet the challenge of the current exceptional climate, after an initial failure at the Eurogroup meeting to agree on funding measures.
He tweeted: “Along with German finance minister @OlafScholz, we call on all European states to be up to the challenge posed by these exceptional times so that we can arrive at reaching an ambitious agreement.”
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Speaking this evening, Mr Le Maire had stern words for his various counterparts.
He declared: “As we are counting deaths by hundreds and thousands, ministers of finance are playing on words and adjectives.
“That’s a shame for finance ministers, a shame for the eurogroup and a shame for Europe.
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“We should have a common understanding of the gravity of the crisis and decide on a strong common response.”
The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) has suggested even if the lockdown in France only lasts a month, a three-point dip in GDP would result, while two months would likewise cost six points.
Hopes restrictions could be lifted any time soon were dashed today after it was confirmed they were being extended a second time, meaning it will run beyond April 15, the French presidential palace said today.
French President Emmanuel Macron will address the nation regarding the new coronavirus situation on Monday evening, the presidential palace added.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the lockdown had helped contain the spread of the coronavirus but stressed the time to lift the restrictions had not yet come.
He explained: “The expansion of the disease is slowing so much that we might soon reach a flattening of the curve and that’s most certainly due to the lockdown’s effect.
“The time to unwind the lockdown has not come. We must see to it people comply with it.”
Professor Jean-Francois Delfraissy, who heads the scientific council which advises the government about how to handle the epidemic, also warned as many as 17 million French people were seriously at risk from coronavirus because of age, illness or being overweight.
The number of confirmed cases in hospital today rose to 82,000 from 78,167 yesterday, France announced, with the total death toll rising to 10,869 from 10,328 over the same period.
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