flitched9000 (flitched9000) wrote,

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“The starting point is the surprising divergence seen in Europe. The euro zone’s two largest countries, Germany and France, have diverged in an unprecedented way since the mid-1990s. While property prices remained stable in Germany, in France they increased by a factor of 2.5, hitting the country with two negative consequences: a high cost of living for its employees, and a collapse in property investment by its businesses. Wages in Germany are now 20% lower than in France due to the wage moderation implemented to manage the former’s reunification process. Furthermore, until the crisis, real short-term interest rates (which take into account inflation differentials) were about 1 percentage point lower in France and Spain than in Germany. This change in the price of the production factors (higher real interest rates and lower wages in Germany than in France) did not give rise to a greater substitution of capital for labour in France. There was little difference between the two countries in the investment rate, which was relatively stable in both. Other indicators, such as the number of robots, indicate on the contrary that there was less modernization of France’s productive fabric. These changes in factor prices have not therefore translated into an adjustment in the productive fabric, but have instead led to an unsustainable divergence in the current accounts.

In this sense, corporate data can be used to gain insight into trends in the French economy. French companies did of course experience a fall in margins, but this has mainly affected sectors exposed to international competition. Corporate profitability (which finances the payment of dividends and interest and contributes to investment) fell from 6.2% in 2000 to less than 5% in 2012. Despite this decline, the investment rate held steady in all business categories during the period, in part funded by corporate savings, which declined from a rate of 16% in 2000 to 13% in 2012. The result has been a substantial rise in corporate debt, although up to now this has not led by higher debt costs due to the fall in interest rates. All these factors are inevitably fuelling concern about the health of our productive fabric: France’s businesses have responded to economic difficulties, not by innovation, but by financializing their balance sheets and taking on debt.”
Tags: c'est la vie, coca-cola, competition crusade, economics, political economy, resource nationalism, winky gauge, ВШЭ заела, гейжопа, колбасники, лягухи, наука такая наука

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