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Economy in Brief

French Consumer Confidence Continues to Slide 
by Robert Brusca January 4, 2008

While France’s services sector is holding up pretty well the consumer is not keeping up that sort of pace. Consumer confidence fell by one point in December but the index has lost 16 points from its peak in this cycle and the resulting index now stands at a relatively weak position with respect to its recent range of values. Confidence is now in the bottom ten percent of its range over the past eighteen years. Consumers say it’s the worst price environment in the past 18 years. They expect pricing conditions to ease up in the 12-months ahead.

Households assess their living conditions over the past 12 months as in the bottom seven percentile of the past 18 year’s results. They see that improving to the bottom 19 percentile in the year ahead.

Households place unemployment prospects in the bottom 38th percentile for the 12 months ahead. Their spending plans are in the bottom third of their range, a similar reading Households assess their current financial situation as middling: in the 52nd percentile of its range. But over the past 12months they place it in the bottom fifth of its range and over the next 12 months they expect a bottom quarter of the range result. Consumer responses are certainly more downbeat than the performance of the French services sector would let us infer. France is clearly one to watch to see which way its various and disparate readings eventually coalesce or if they do.

INSEE Household Monthly Survey
    Since Jan 1990 Since Jan 1990
  Dec
07
Nov
07
Oct
07
Sep
07
%tile Rank Max Min Range Mean
Household Confidence -29 -28 -23 -21 9.3 196 10 -33 43 -17
Living Standards
past 12 Mos -61 -59 -54 -51 7.1 207 18 -67 85 -37
Next 12-Mos -31 -36 -25 -26 19.3 165 15 -42 57 -18
Unemployment: Next 12 5 11 11 10 38.2 172 73 -37 110 30
Price Developments
Past 12Mo 39 30 17 12 100.0 1 39 -57 96 -19
Next 12-Mos -23 -8 -19 -16 40.7 33 31 -60 91 -34
Savings
Favorable to save 30 27 31 36 72.2 32 40 4 36 23
Ability to save Next 12 -12 -13 -7 -6 37.9 147 6 -23 29 -8
Spending
Favorable for major purchase -23 -18 -11 -10 32.8 173 16 -42 58 -12
Financial Situation
Current 14 15 16 16 52.4 66 24 3 21 12
Past 12 Mos -23 -19 -17 -15 18.2 190 -5 -27 22 -16
Next 12-Mos -9 -8 -6 -5 25.9 206 11 -16 27 0
  Number of observations in the period 215        
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