Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sick Man of Europe

Which may soon have an unwed mother living in the Elysee Palace if this keeps up:

PARIS, Nov 21, 2006 (AFP) - The French economy ground to halt in the third quarter, official figures showed Tuesday, a performance that analysts said could leave France at the bottom of the eurozone growth table this year.

The national statistics institute INSEE, in a second estimate, said momentum in the July to September period came to zero compared with the previous three months.

....At the research group Asterès Nicolas Bouzou said the third quarter figures highlighted structural weaknesses that mar the competitiveness of the French economy. French exports fell 0.7 percent in the third quarter.

He maintained that France's woes could not be blamed entirely on the international environment, the slowdown in the US economy or the strength of the euro.

"In fact, it's the weakness of our industry, in an extremely competitive global environment, that penalizes our growth," he argued.

"Production figures by sector show it. Activity slowed in all manufacturing branches in the third quarter," he added, in particular the automobile industry.

He also pointed to sluggish investment by non-financial enterprises and a real estate construction sector that ceased to grow in the third quarter.

For analyst Alexander Law at the market research firm Xerfi "the confirmation of zero growth in the third quarter supports our theory that the French economy is clearly incapable of progressing at a sustainable pace about two percent, even when we are assured that all is going well in the best of all possible worlds."

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