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French fury at Economist’s ‘time-bomb’ warning

© AFP

Video by Katharyn GILLAM

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-11-16

France’s industry minister (pictured, right) has slammed British weekly The Economist after it published a cover story describing the French economy as the biggest danger to Europe’s single currency.

France’s minister of industry slammed famed British weekly The Economist after it ran a 14-page special report calling the country’s economy a ticking time bomb and the biggest threat to the euro currency’s stability.

The Economist has published “caricatures that are worthy of Charlie Hebdo,” minister Arnaud Montebourg told Europe 1 radio on Friday, referring to a French satirical magazine notorious for publishing a cartoon of a nude Prophet Mohammed in September.

In its edition set to hit news stands on Friday, the highly-respected British weekly warned that France’s high taxes on businesses were eroding the country’s competitiveness and that France was a bigger danger to Europe’s single currency than the debt-stricken countries of Italy, Spain and Portugal.

The Economist said both French leaders and voters were dangerously behind on much needed economic reforms and that a major blowback was on the horizon. “You cannot defy economics for long,” the weekly wrote, adding that “the crisis could hit as early as next year.”

The right-leaning magazine highlighted Europe’s strategic position in the Eurozone and its massive public sector that accounts for 57% of gross domestic product, the highest in the single-currency zone.

Business sentiment has also deteriorated, following “a string of leftish measures, including a 75% top income tax rate, increased taxes on companies, wealth, capital gains, and dividends, a higher minimum wage and a partial rollback of a previously accepted rise in the pension age.”

The Economist loves "French bashing"

However, Montebourg said the British weekly was given to exaggerations. “Honestly, the Economist has never distinguished itself by its moderation.”

In similar fashion, the head of France's MEDEF employers' association, Laurence Parisot, also rejected the magazine's claims as "completely exaggerated".

"In reality, The Economist is behind the times because its dossier was conceived before the Gallois report and the government's decisions to promote competitiveness," she told French BFMTV news channel in reference to a government-commissioned report that calls for slashing 30 billion euros ($38.54 billion) off payroll taxes and loosening existing labour laws.

The Economist raised French eyebrows earlier this year when it accused its citizens of being in "denial" during the presidential election campaign in late March, and called President François Hollande "dangerous" for Europe.

France's leading and left-leaning daily Le Monde said Friday that The Economist's new cover story was in line with the magazine's predisposition to "French bashing".

Financial data out on Thursday showed that the Eurozone had fallen into a second recession since 2009, but that France’s economy had rallied between July and September of this year, showing modest 0.2% growth.

(FRANCE 24 with news wires)
 

Date created : 2012-11-16

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