From Paris a wind of fury has stirred, directed across the channel at Britain. French Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault has accused The Economist of resorting to “excess” to boost its sales.
The weekly magazine’s front cover trumpeted its main article with the picture of seven baguettes tied together like a bomb. It has now exploded into a diplomatic row.
Francois Hollande’s economic reforms have come under attack, with The Economist claiming they could jeopardise the future of the euro because they are not ambitious enough and saying the financial markets could turn against France.
“I am shocked because it’s not the image I want to give of my country. At the same time I share some of the magazine’s opinions. I’m quite worried about the economic situation at the moment. I don’t see how the current measures will get us out of this,” said one woman.
There was some good news this week for the French President with data showing the country’s economy grew unexpectedly by 0.2 percent. French public spending accounts for 56 percent of the GDP the highest share in the eurozone while public debt has reached 90 percent of GDP.
French firms, says The Economist, are burdened by overly rigid labour and product market regulation with the economy stagnant there are warnings it may tip into recession this year.
For years France has been losing competitiveness to Germany, points out the article, challenging Holland to show enough “boldness and grit” to reform France. It comes just a few days after the president vowed to reform at his own pace.
The French employers’ organisation, Medef, weighed into the argument saying the government had already taken measures to restore competitiveness.