Inquiring minds are digging into a 23 page report by Dr Eric Dor, Directeur IESEG School of Management, Université Catholique de Lille, regarding the consequences of monetary union on the destruction of French manufacturing industry.
Eric Dor writes “The launch of the euro brought about an impressive decrease of manufacturing production in France and huge losses of market shares.”
Since the launch of the euro, French and German industrial productions have extremely diverged. French manufacturing production decreased while German manufacturing industry very strongly increased. The decrease or stagnation of exports of French products contrasts with the strong increase of German exports. France lost market shares on the foreign markets. This evolution is a direct consequence of the flaws of the monetary union as it has been organized. Also, due to sharp differences in the average degree of sophistication of French products, sharing a common currency with Germany inevitably had to lead to a loss of competitiveness of France on foreign markets.
Manufacturing industry production in France
The detailed data computed in this paper shed light on the magnitude of French disindustrialisation since the launch of the euro. Before EMU, the rates of growth of French and German industrial production were close to each other. For example, from January 1995 to December 1998, the cumulated rate of growth was 5.5% in France and 6.4% in Germany. However, since the launch of the euro, from January 1999 to April 2013, French industrial production decreased by 11.4% while German industrial production increased by 32.8%!
Even before the financial crisis, from January 1999 to December 2008, the divergence was obvious. French manufacturing production only increased by 3.4% while German manufacturing industry increased by 32.4%. The crisis was destructive for France, where manufacturing production decreased by 15.2% from January 2009 to April 2013, while Germany resisted with a decrease limited to 1.5%. The data on manufacturing industrial production also show that since the start of EMU, the UK has performed better than France, which is clearly close to the distressed economies of the periphery, like Spain and Italy.
Disaggregated data of Cumulated growth of industrial production in % show that the divergence between France and Germany occurred in nearly all sectors of industrial activity.
The shortcomings of the monetary union were known from the start
The responsibility of those who pushed ahead with the EMU project is enormous, because many of them were aware of the flaws of its design. This awareness is very well documented by Geert De Clercq (2011).
It must be pointed out that it was known by experts that the mechanics of the common currency would lead to a likely implicit funding of the southern countries by northern countries. Before joining the ECB in 1998, Otmar Issing himself had published a paper where he warned that a single currency would require transfers of cash between the member countries and that it would cause political tensions. While the enormous TARGET related claim of the Bundesbank on the rest of the Eurosystem has recently raised major concerns in Germany, such a likely phenomenon had been very early identified, even before the launch of the Euro, for example by Garber.
The consequences for France
While France did not experience a real estate bubble and an excessive private sector indebtedness that could compare with those of other European southern countries, the competitiveness of the country and the profitability of its industry have dramatically deteriorated since the launch of the euro. As a result the trade deficit has continuously increased and the losses of productive capacity in the industry have been huge.
The PDF paper is 23 pages long and is loaded with charts like these.
Cumulated Industrial Production
Euro Exacerbated Existing Imbalances
To be completely fair, problems in France (Spain, Greece, Italy, etc) cannot be pinned entirely on the euro. However, it is 100% certain the euro exacerbated existing problems, and in a major way.
Instead of being a savior, the Euro has been more like an anchor to most of the economies in the eurozone.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock