This morning of Thursday, January 13, the Cercle des Economistes, which organizes the Economic Meetings of Aix-en-Provence every year, sounded the alarm: this electoral campaign is off to a bad start, since almost no candidate seems to be interested in real challenges facing France, the economy and the energy transition. There are only for health, security and migration issues, noted the half-dozen economists participating in this press conference by video.
For Jean-Hervé Lorenzi, the great organizer of the Rencontres d’Aix, on the economic level, the real issue looming is how to go from “whatever the cost” to reducing the public debt and therefore deficit. Obviously, for candidates, this subject is ” very complicated Given the current health uncertainties, he admits. Nevertheless, ” we must deal with the subject “. As well as seven other big crucial questions largely neglected: the fate of the youth (and in particular that which is completely desocialized, a French exception by its magnitude); purchasing power (burdened by exorbitant housing prices); retirees ; state reform; industrialization; the environment, of course; European questions, finally.
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1.5 million young people excluded from employment and training
For Patrick Artus (Paris School of Economics, Natixis…), France faces “ a major investment problem “: It must make up for lost time in terms of” business digitization ”(The famous robotic gap that separates us from the Germans), it must equip itself with a more solid health system, but also and above all, if we want to achieve the objectives set for the energy transition, it must invest 4, 2% of GDP (compared to 2% currently) for thirty years. Or 100 billion euros per year. Where to find all this money in a France which ” generates little income “And whose employment rate (67% of the working-age population) is much lower than in other advanced countries, which in itself explains a” gigantic production deficit “?
“One can wonder if bullshit jobs are not the attribute of a social status”
The presidential candidates, suggest the economists of the Circle, should address head-on the question of skills, one of the keys which will determine the level of innovation, investment, reindustrialisation. “A good integration of young people in their country determines productivity gains, sums up Lorenzi, But in France, this is not the case ”. He welcomes the initiative of “youth employment contracts” (9 billion are engaged) but “We are very far from success” :
“One and a half million young people are desocialized [ni en emploi, ni en formation, ni en insertion, NDLR]is a world record. It is amazing that we cannot find solutions. We set up second chance schools: there are 100 or 200 in France, where 2,000 or 3,000 are needed… ”
According to Nathalie Chusseau (University of Lille), the non-integration of these young people “Costs 22 billion euros for the budget, and represents a shortfall for the French economy of 0.4 point of GDP”. The problem lies with the initial training, but not only. These young people also need soft skills : a “knowing how to be” (arriving on time, knowing how to value oneself, speaking in public, knowing how to cooperate, adapt…) “60% of employers think it’s more important than technical skills”, she notes.
“Apprenticeship is a miracle cure against youth unemployment”
Other potential workers who are being neglected in France: older workers, whose employment rate is much lower than that seen in other European countries (53%, or 20 points less than in Germany). One “Mess” according to her, from which we will only emerge through lifelong training.
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The environment has disappeared
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But the biggest missing from the countryside is the climate. It’s simple, despite the urgency, “The environment has disappeared”, notes Patrice Geoffron (University of Paris Dauphine). And yet, as the Citizen’s Climate Convention has shown, “Our fellow citizens love to work on these issues”. To listen to him, the energy transition will not be for France a valley of blood and tears, but on the contrary, “A tremendous chance”. With some “Violent profits”, whether in terms of air quality or energy independence – knowing that France imports 99% of its gas and oil. Everything needs to be done, in a strategy that will involve various projects: housing, precariousness, new industrial sectors (hydrogen, etc.), European coordination, etc.
Bruno Le Maire draws a second five-year term on the whole right!
Asked about the economic programs of the candidates, the Cercle experts, cautious, refrain from ” give good points and bad points “. At the most, they agree to give two little paws, one to the left and the other to the right. Thus, the revaluation of 15% of the minimum wage, advocated by Anne Hidalgo, raises according to them the question of the cost for companies and the possible destruction of jobs that it could lead to, a point on which economists cannot decide: the candidate will have to specify who will finance this increase. Symmetrically, Bruno Le Maire or Valérie Pécresse want to lower social contributions or production taxes, but remain unclear as to the financing of these initiatives …