The unemployment rate in France surged in August (the latest report) to a 12-month high of 10.5%.  French President Francois Hollande said he will not run for reelection unless the rate drops below 10%. Will he keep his word?


The Financial Times reports French Unemployment at 12-Month High.

France is bucking the trend among the major economies in the eurozone, with its closely-watched unemployment rate hitting a 12-month high in August.

Europe’s second largest economy is sticking out like un sore thumb, with almost every other country in the 28 member EU trimming or holding its jobless rate.

France’s jobless rate inched up to 10.5 per cent this month according to figures from Eurostat. That’s risen steadily from 9.9 per cent in May and defied the broader eurozone-wide trend where unemployment is hugging five-year lows at 10.1 per cent.

French unemployment has become a lightning rod in the country’s political debate after incumbent president, Francois Hollande, has vowed to only stand for re-election next year if the rate falls into single figures.

The International Monetary Fund has warned France’s “structural unemployment” is set to remain elevated as the country is hampered by burdensome regulations and high tax levels.

Currently led by a former French finance minister, Christine Lagarde, the IMF has called on France to reform its minimum wage structure and boost private sector job creation through ambitious labour market reforms.

Rare Occasions

On rare occasions, make that extremely rare occasions, Christine Lagarde actually says something that makes sense. This is one of those times.

France’s wage structure, hiring and firing rules, tax structure, work hour rules, etc., etc. are all horrendous.

But at the first hint of badly needed reforms in France, what typically happens is the unions, the socialists, and the farmers dump “merde” all over the place, shutting the country down.

Then the reformers back down, and the only thing remaining is merde.

So “Will Hollande keep his word or will he humiliate himself?”. Actually close to 90% of the country thinks Hollande is a fool. He has already humiliated himself.

Will Hollande humiliate himself even more?

We do not know for certain, but that’s what fools typically do.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock