French government ministers have reacted angrily to the front cover of the latest issue of the Economist magazine's latest front cover [see left] - which features a bundle of French baguettes with a lighted fuse, under the headline, "The time-bomb at the heart of Europe". The special report warned that the dire state of the French economy – with its high unemployment, lack of competitiveness, dying industry and high public spending – could be the next biggest threat to the eurozone, dwarfing the problems of Greece or Spain. And now Moody’s, the ratings agency, has downgraded France's creditworthiness. With François Hollande’s poll ratings disintegrating, and his economic strategy in pieces, Ed Miliband’s boast that the Left’s victory over Nicolas Sarkozy represented a brave new dawn for the forces of anti-austerity looks more foolish by the day. It is worth analysing unemployment rates:In France the economy is sliding with unemployment rising, and now running at 10.2 per cent
In the UK jobs are increasing, as unemployment is coming down - we are presently at 7.8 per cent.
It is far from perfect here but if we do not curb our spending, and boost our economy, we will gradually slide into ever deeper debt and decline. I have no problem with an alternative strategy but the French way of ignoring the problem, and failing to take tough decisions, is not the answer. I will leave the last comment to todays papers, where the journalist Iain Martin, makes the following point:
"After their first meeting following the election, Labour's leader, Ed Miliband, said: "The points of agreement we have were around the fact that the tide is turning against an austerity approach, that there needs to be a different way forward found. What President Hollande is seeking to do in France and what he is seeking to do in leading the debate in Europe is find that different way forward."
Hollande certainly seems to have found a "different way forward", just not quite in the way Miliband anticipated."