LIVRES :

 

"Dynamisme économique et culturel en Asie et en Europe"
par KIM Hee-il - Éditions l'Harmattan 250 p., 140 F (21,34 ).

Les ressorts de l'Asie

Par quels mécanismes l'Asie parvient-elle à conserver, au delà des crises conjoncturelles, des taux de croissance hors du commun? Kim Hee-il, docteur en sciences politiques de l'université Paris VIII, décrypte cette réussite économique à la lumière de déterminants éthiques, philosophiques et culturels, tout en analysant les ressorts de la coopération industrielle entre l'Europe et l'Asie, et plus particulièrement entre la France et la Corée. Une vision résolument interdisciplinaire de la macroéconomie.

(INDUSTRIES N° 65 - mars 2001 www.industrie.gouv.fr/accueil.htm)

SOMMAIRE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Retour table économie

"Espérances et menaces de la Nouvelle Économie" par le Cercle des Économistes, Éditions Descartes et Cie, 480 pages, 140F.

L'ancien ministre français de l'économie, Christian Sautter, a intégré récemment le "Cercle des Économistes". Sa contribution à un nouvel ouvrage "Espérances et menaces de la Nouvelle Économie" est très remarquée : s'inspirant des lois de la physique, Christian Sautter propose un nouveau concept d'étalonnage, "la force vive". En effet, d'après lui, le seul "taux de croissance" atteint très vite ses limites et on ne peut "mettre sur le même plan Singapour, un nouveau pays industriel comme la Corée ou une économie mûre comme le Japon...". Sautter a donc inventé une formule permettant de prendre en compte à la fois la richesse acquise d'un pays et sa croissance, dans laquelle le second paramètre compte le double du premier... L'ancien ministre explique "qu'on sent bien que le Japon vient de perdre sa force vive tandis que les États-Unis (de Clinton...) affichent une énergie neuve, celle, dit-on, de la nouvelle économie..." À cette nouvelle aune, Christian Sautter propose le classement des 25 premiers pays du monde selon leur "force vive", les six premiers étant la Chine, les États-Unis, l'Inde, la CORÉE, l'Argentine et le Brésil. La FRANCE est 18ème... Un signe évident de la valeur de ce nouvel outil: dans sa dernière année de mandat Bill Clinton aurait passé deux fois plus de temps en Inde qu'au Japon... (W_FC 01/2001)

  

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ARTICLES :
 

Vive la France et la nouvelle économie

(GUARDIAN - The Observer Business)

In Jospin's country the taxes may be high - but growth is up too, reports Faisal Islam, Sunday July 16, 2000

Larry Ellison, temporary bearer of the mantle of world's richest man, and chief executive of Oracle, was dismissive about allocating investment to a country where the working week was to be cut to 35 hours. In Britain, the French government was pilloried for a tax regime so harsh that the model chosen as its national figurehead fled to London. The motorways around the capital are routinely blocked by protesting lorry drivers or farmers. One of their number, who smashed up a branch of McDonald's, is given a presidential audience and becomes a national hero.

France, newly in the chair at the EU, is an unlikely engine of the European economy; the state spends nearly half of national income, and employs a quarter of the labour force. Yet the French economy is expected to grow by 3.7 per cent this year - the fastest of all major European economies - having averaged growth of just 1 per cent in the early Nineties. The French blue-chip stock index, the CAC-40, has outperformed most leading indices over the past three years and is up 8.5 per cent since the beginning of the year.

This performance comes as unemployment in France reaches its lowest levels for a decade, dipping below 10 per cent; it is predicted to drop below 9 per cent by the end of the year. Private-sector employment increased by 1.1 per cent in the first quarter of this year alone.

 The French economy is in rude health, according to a recent Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) survey, despite its dirigiste tendencies and its cultural aversion to Anglo-Saxon capitalism. Figures released this month show business and consumer confidence at record levels. Strong domestic demand has differentiated its performance from that of Germany and, according to government advisers, this in part reflects government activism in the labour market. 'When Prime Minister Jospin arrived, our goal was to reduce unemployment and increase demand by increasing employment,' says Pierre Alain Muet, chair of the prime minister's economic advisers. 'The strongest [form of] inequality in France was unemployment.'

Muet attributes the current performance to Lionel Jospin's three-pronged economic strategy. Strong co-ordination of macroeconomic policy in Europe was the first prong. Low interest rates and smaller public debt associated with entry to the euro were a stimulus after years of high long-term interest rates. The deficit was reduced slowly at first, then sharply in 1999. The government has since focused on tax cuts, and continued to reduce the deficit at a lower rate.

Increasing growth by increasing employment was the second prong. Thegovernment initiated a New Deal-esque scheme to bring unemployed young people into the economy. 'France experienced a virtuous circle of increasing confidence and increasing employment, with emphasis on the new economy and new technology,' says Muet.

The third prong was to develop a dialogue between firms and employees in order to foster job creation by moderating wage claims. 'There is a trade-off between employment and an increase in personal incomes,' he says. The clearest manifestation of this was the 35-hour week, but Muet says that despite the decrease in working time there has been no decrease in competitiveness.

Most analysts attribute this to the flexibility afforded to large employers in renegotiating contracts around the implementation of the new law. Although any hours worked above 35 are subject to extra payment, and in some cases time off in lieu, larger companies have used the 35-hour week to go back to to the drawing board on basic contracts, and wage costs have so far been held down.

Winning a reduction in hours worked was the carrot for employees in this social bargain. But the pro-business measures in the legislation incurred the wrath of motorway-blockading unionists. 'This may unwind over the next two years: the trade unions could push wage claims,' says Alison Cottrell, an analyst at Paine Webber.

In 2002, the reduction in working time will be enforced for small businesses, and there are fears that there will be less room for

flexibility.

Core inflation is low, at 1.1 per cent, but it has moved up from 0.5 per cent since the end of the year. Inward investment is strong, but many analysts believe such performance has come about despite, rather than because of, measures such as the 35-hour week.

'France is doing well by European standards, but compared with America it's going nowhere,' says Cottrell.

Consumer confidence is in part a reflection of better employment prospects, but alsolow inflation and large tax cuts, including a 1per cent drop in VAT in April. The economy has benefited from a weak euro and the recovery in world trade, especially in terms of tourism and car exports.

But it is the telecommunications-media sector that is creating the buzz in French business and its stock market. The dynamism of ' la nouvelle economie ' is best illustrated by Vivendi, a former state utility provider transformed into a telecoms and media multinational.

France is something of a pioneer in e-commerce. Consumers are long used to performing electronic transactions through the Minitel system, and last week Jospin launched a Fr3 billion (£285 million) programme for training the public in using the internet. Although dotcom mania has yet to reach US levels, the lure of the start-up and stock option may affect France's giant state apparatus in other ways. Applications to the prestigious Ecole Nationale d'Administration, a finishing school for France's future leaders and bureaucrats, have fallen by a third while applications for information technology courses have rocketed. As half of France's civil servants retire over the next 10 years, and the cultural appetite to replace them wanes, the state apparatus may see some natural shrinkage.

Jospin's Socialist government has already privatised more state enterprises than all of the previous governments put together. Meanwhile, Muet says, further reforms to the labour market, including a negative income tax to smooth out the 'poverty trap', are planned. 'I expect France to return to full employment, unemployment below 4 per cent, in the second half of this decade.'

Cynics argue that this will be difficult to achieve if France's best IT minds, and most attractive faces, leave to find tax exile in London and the US. But Muet says the debate in this area is excessive - taxes are higher, but public services are better too.

The French health system is ranked the best in the world.

 And we haven't even mentioned football...

How soccer kick-started the economy In France, consumer demand for domestic football is somewhat subdued compared with the country's recently acquired taste for the international game. However, the national side's home World Cup victory in the 1998 may be the missing ingredient explaining France's economic success. 'The remarkable improvement of the French economy roughly appears to have coincided with the French soccer achievement,' said a research note written before Euro 2000 by economists at ABN-Amro. 'We refuse to believe that it was purely a coincidence.' The unexpected victory of les bleus two years ago led to an average annual increase in retail sales of 1 percentile point in the 18 months following the event. GDP growth has averaged 3 per cent since then, up from 1.3 per cent over the preceding eight years.

The report said a German victory in Euro 2000 would be the best for improving eurozone prospects, by boosting flagging confidence in the land of Beckenbauer.

It ends on a particularly sour note for England, given recent events. 'It has to be said that hosting and winning such a tournament appears to be a particularly potent combination to lift the general mood in a country'.

 


 

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