On Monday, the French central bank raised its 2021 growth forecast for France to 5.5%, compared to its 5% estimate in December. This is closer to the 6% anticipated by the government and the OECD’s 5.9% figure, which ranks France fourth in the world in growth this year after India (12.6%), China (7.8%) and the U.S. (6.5%). The U.K. is ranked 5th at 5.1.%. The OECD also predicts in 2021 France will reach 97.2% of its 2019 GDP.
This puts French growth slightly stronger than the euro zone average in 2021, even after a drop in GDP which was more severe in 2020 and a record recession of 8.2%. The French economy should continue to recover in 2022 and 2023, with growth of 4% and 2% respectively, bringing France back to the pace of the euro zone as a whole and to its pre-crisis level around mid-2022.
After a year of zero job creation, the Bank of France also expects 25,000 new jobs in 2022 and 125,000 in 2023, meaning the country’s high level of unemployment of 9.5%, will last for several years.
France has not seen growth this significant since 1973, which is being put down to avoiding a national confinement in 2021. But this could change as the country has now officially entered its third wave and President Macron is expected to announce in the coming days stricter measures, likely a confinement in some form, at least for Ile de France.
The president of the PACA region, Renaud Muselier, today hinted on France Bleu Azur that the weekend confinement in the Alpes-Maritimes could be extended by the government, and even to a full lockdown, with schools remaining open. The Alpes-Maritimes has an incidence rate of 457 per 100,000 with 511 patience in ICU although capacity is 480. Ile de France now has 457 per 100,000 with 1,177 patients in ICU even though capacity is 1,050.
This is the third time in 2021 France is facing a possible full lockdown as numbers rise and the vaccine campaign falls short. Despite the European Medicines Agency today reaffirming that it is “firmly convinced” of the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine, confidence by the European public has plummeted. 58% of French people say they don’t trust the AstraZeneca vaccine, 20% say they trust it (compared to 52% for Pfizer) and 22% have no opinion. (Even before yesterday’s suspension of AstraZanica, of the 1.4 million doses of the vaccine in Germany, only some 240,000 had been administered.) To note, a dose of AstraZanica costs €2-€4 versus €15 for PfizerBioNTech.
According to a “L'opinion en direct” poll carried out by Elabe for BFM-TV, 62% of French people are opposed to a national weekend confinement with a weekday curfew. 57% do not want a confinement like last spring while 61% are opposed to a lockdown similar to last October.
All of this on the one-year anniversary of the first national confinement when President Macron proclaimed “we are at war” with Covid.