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Economy in Brief

EMU-Era Low in French Confidence
by Robert Brusca  May 28, 2013

Household confidence in France took a sharp step down in May dropping to a level of 79 from a level of 83 in April. The drop this month in the INSEE survey index has fallen to its lowest level since the monetary union was formed. That's right, the index has tied its recession low of the current cycle in what is supposed to be a recovery.

Households assess their living standards as in the bottom 2% of their historic percentiles and queue standings. Looking ahead over the next 12 months both the percentile and the queue standings of the responses being given for expected living standards are the worst ever. Unemployment expectations for the next 12 months are ranked worse than this only 0.7% of the time. The raw percentile reading for expected unemployment stands in the top 4% of its historic range.

Price developments are somewhat worrisome; over the past 12 months the ranking for price developments is the 45th percentile of its historic queue that's pretty much a middle of the pack finding; but looking ahead to next 12 months the standing is in the 89th percentile.

The environment, however, has been favorable for savings: that reading stands in the top 13% of its historic queue. The forward assessments of the ability to save are in the top 6% of their historic queue. The assessments for spending are commensurately worse: the spending environment is thought to be in the bottom 3% of its historic queue, worse only about 3% of the time. The financial situation currently and as expected is abysmal. Both readings, for the past and future financial situation put the historic queue rankings in the bottom 1% of their respective ranges.

There have been a lot of things said about the French economy and while there are some expectations that perhaps the slowdown there has been nearing its end, consumers appear to feel that extremely harsh conditions are expected as conditions are going to worsen.

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