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Two months of Covid-19 lockdown will cost France €120 billion, report says

The state-funded OFCE estimates France will lose €120 billion during the country’s eight-week-long Covid-19 lockdown.
The state-funded OFCE estimates France will lose €120 billion during the country’s eight-week-long Covid-19 lockdown. © JOEL SAGET / AFP

France’s nearly two-month-long coronavirus lockdown is expected to cost the country some €120 billion in lost revenue while “forced savings” are estimated to reach €55 billion, the state-funded French Economic Observatory said on Monday.

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“During the lockdown, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was cut by 32 percent, corresponding to five points of GDP for the whole of 2020,” the state-funded French Economic Observatory (OFCE) wrote

The observatory went on to say that “almost 60 percent of the drop in national income was absorbed by public administrations” and 35 percent by businesses. France's economic recovery depends on how much the French spend once lockdown is lifted, it said.

However, although the French are expected to have shored up €55 billion in so-called forced savings during the planned March 17 to May 11 lockdown period – meaning they will have spent less than they earned – they are not expected to spend these savings "completely or rapidly" once lockdown is lifted given the continuing uncertainties over Covid-19.

The €120 billion gap in lost revenue will therefore not be off-set anytime soon.

On Monday, France’s labour ministry said that 9.6 million French people, or one in about seven, had been forced into partial unemployment due to Covid-19, meaning they receive around 84 percent of their net salary paid for by the government.  

Last week, France’s Budget Minister Gérald Darmanin said the country’s 2020 budget deficit is expected to hit a postwar record of 9 percent of economic output due to the lockdown.

"Our country has not seen such a deficit since World War Two," Darmanin told France Info radio.

"Each day, each week of lockdown ... is worsening our public finances," he said, adding that France's debt would soar to 115 percent of GDP, up from just under 100 percent last year.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AFP)

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