Thursday, November 30, 2006

Nobody does it better

Nobody does it quite the way the French do:

PARIS, Nov 30, 2006 (AFP) - The French government, facing a presidential election in April, got a double dose of bad news Thursday as official figures showed that consumer confidence contracted in November while a decline in joblessness ground to a halt in the previous month.

The results reflected France's stagnant economic momentum in the third quarter.

...."It's a serious warning," said Nicolas Bouzou of the economic research group Asteres.

"It is striking that the unemployment rate interrupts its decline at a time when economic growth is zero and when all economic indicators are pointing downward."

He said French companies managed to create fewer than 15,000 jobs in the third quarter and that economic layoffs were rising sharply.

France's stubbornly high jobless rate is frequently attributed by economists to an inflexible labor market, which saddles employers with high social charges and constraints to laying off staff and makes them reluctant to take on workers.

"In the last 20 years France on several occasions has found itself in the same situation," noted Alexander Law of the market research firm Xerfi.

"The unemployment rate can fall sharply for exceptional reasons but cannot go below the 8.5 percent threshold. At the moment, France is approaching its structural rate of unemployment but nothing suggests that it can break through this barrier."

Call it l'economie ennui?

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