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Economy in Brief

French Households See Nothing To Cheer About
by Louise Curley June 29, 2010

French households continue to express dissatisfaction with their lot. The June overall Household Confidence Indicator published by INSEE (Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economique) declined another point to -39% from -38% in May. The highest balance in the recent past was -30% in November of last year.

Ever since INSEE began to measure consumer confidence in October 1972, the majority of French households have more often expressed dissatisfaction rather than satisfaction with their economic and financial condition as can be seen in the attached chart that shows the entire history of the indicator. There were few periods when than the balance of opinion was positive--the seventies, the late nineties and the early twenty-first century. The average percent balance for the entire period is a negative 14% with a minimum of -47% in July 2008 and a maximum of 18% in April and May of 1973.

The overall indicator is an average of five underlying series: financial conditions over the past 12 months, financial conditions over the next 12 months, living standards over the past 12 months, living standards over the next 12 months and favorable conditions for major purchases. These five series are shown in the table below from November, 2009 through June of this year. The highest balances, that is, the least negative for most of these series occurred towards the end of 2009.

INSEE  Survey of Households   (% Balances) Jun 10 May 10 Apr 10  Mar 10 Feb 10 Jan 10 Dec 09 Nov 09
Overall Household Confidence Indicator  -39 -38 -37 -34 -33 -30 -31 -30
Living Standard over Past 12 Months -71 -68 -69 -68 -67 -62 -66 -66
Living Standard over Next 12 Months -55 -53 -48 -43 -37 -36 -38 -36
Financial Situation over Past 12 Months -25 -25 -25 -24 -25 -21 -20 -22
Financial Situation over Next 12 Months -19 -19 -16 -13 -12 -11 -11 -8
Favorable Conditions for Major Purchase -24 -24 -26 -23 -24 -21 -21 -19
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