Economy Without containment, France could experience growth of 1.5% in...

Without containment, France could experience growth of 1.5% in the first quarter of 2021

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A shopping street in Nantes (illustrative image). – LOIC VENANCE / AFP

France will experience growth of 1.5% in the first quarter on the assumption that health restrictions remain those of January, estimated Thursday Insee.

In the case of a lockdown of the type of November for a period of one month, this growth would become zero, and the gross domestic product (GDP) would shrink by 1% if this containment were to last 7 weeks, added National Institute of Statistics. The level of GDP will remain below its pre-crisis level, i.e. that of the fourth quarter of 2019, by 4.5 or 6 percentage points depending on each of the three scenarios.

Better at the end of the year

Over the whole of 2020, the objective of 6% growth that the government has set itself “is not unattainable,” said Julien Pouget, head of the conjuncture department of INSEE, during a an online press briefing. In particular, he highlighted the less significant than expected decline in GDP in the last quarter of 2020 (-1.3%) despite the second confinement, which brings “a more significant gain effect” allowing the year 2021 to begin. on a better basis.

This good news also allows “to revise downwards the cost of the tightening of sanitary measures”, according to him. Even “harsher confinement would not have the same impact as April-May” because “there has been a lot of learning and adaptation, telework has developed, we have masks, we have tests », Explained Julien Pouget.

The impact of the curfew

But “the crisis is a test of endurance” and “the longer it lasts, the more the rebound capacity becomes uncertain in the sectors most affected”, also estimated the head of INSEE. Household consumption, the main component of GDP, remained 7% lower in January compared to its pre-crisis level, the institute further reported.

December was marked by a strong rebound in consumption after the second confinement, with a difference of only 4% compared to the fourth quarter of 2019, after -15% in November during the second confinement.

Analyzing data from bank cards and cash registers in supermarkets, INSEE notably noted a drop from 6% to 7% in consumption at the time of the advance to 6 p.m. of curfews in the various departments.

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