As France Looks To Turn Page On Recession With New Budget, Economists Say Not So Fast

France’s Hollande firm on Syria, hopeful on Iran

He estimates that spending cuts and tax increases both in France and around Europe will shave 1.3 percent off Frances growth next year. Still, the observatorys forecast is among the most positive at a 1.3 percent increase in GDP. The consensus is somewhere just below 1 percent; the French government built its budget around a 0.9 percent estimate. Heyer cautions that a return to growth doesnt mean France is rebounding. We cant talk about a recovery as long as economic growth is around 1 percent, he said. Since today, we produce less than five years ago, we are still in recession. Thats the real definition of a recession. The real rebound will be when we have a production level well above 2007 and when the economy has started to create jobs again. Thats not in the governments scenario. Still, Jacob Kirkegaard, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, says France has likely escaped the crisis without the explosions of unemployment and deep recessions seen in Southern Europe. But that also means it no longer has the motivation to make the real, deep reforms it also avoided. Theres never going to be a hard landing. … Its going to be a gradual underperformance, not only compared with Germany but also with traditionally weaker countries like Spain and Italy, he said.

Venezuela-to-France Cocaine Bust Yields 9 Arrests

France’s interior minister, Manuel Valls, praised the investigation that led to six arrests in France and three in Venezuela. But he questioned how nearly three dozen suitcases stuffed with illicit drugs could get through security at a major airport and make it aboard a single commercial flight. “It’s not normal that you can carry more than a ton of cocaine on an Air France plane,” he said Monday on Europe-1 radio. “The fight against drugs requires all the players, notably transport companies, to participate in this cooperation.” Valls said police knew where and to whom the drugs were heading but wouldn’t divulge the information or provide details on who was arrested. His Venezuelan counterpart, Miguel Rodriguez, told reporters that “mafias comprised of Italian and English citizens” were involved and that French police had been tracking them since July. The Paris prosecutor’s office said the six people in custody were to appear before a judge Tuesday to determine whether they would be charged. A spokeswoman said none were French but would not discuss their nationality. Britain’s Foreign Office said three Britons were among those arrested. Rodriquez said authorities had interviewed more than 15 people and “in the coming hours we will surely be announcing more arrests.” On Sunday, police arrested two National Guard sergeants and the lieutenant assigned to counterdrug duties the airport when the incident occurred and Rodriguez said authorities “presume complicity at the airline.” He noted that each of the 31 suitcases would have been far over the usual maximum baggage weight allowed at an average of more than 40 kilograms (88 pounds) each. The Colombian cocaine was placed on Flight 368, which departed on Sept. 10, and seized the following morning at Charles de Gaulle Airport, he said.

(text) French President Francois Hollande strongly defended his countrys hardline stance against the Syrian regime Tuesday in a speech to the United Nations that criticised the international community for being indecisive. The Syrian conflict, he said, was the deadliest this century and the Damascus regimes use of chemical weapons which France believes is beyond doubt constitutes a crime that should and could have been dealt with more assertively. In a thinly veiled criticism of UN Security Council members who vetoed military intervention against Syria, he said the international bodys strength and ability to respond to such a crisis had been undermined by international indecision. Failure to find consensus, he said, shows that we are without power and it is peace that is the principal victim. Coercive measures Hollande added that if Syria does not abide by a Russian-brokered deal to hand over its chemical weapons to the international community for dismantlement, it should face coercive measures under Chapter VII of the UN charter. Those responsible for chemical weapons attacks, he said, must be “held accountable in the justice system.” Hollande also warned that continuing inaction in Syria was likely to breed terrorism, citing Frances military intervention in Mali as justification for foreign military intervention. Mali has regained territorial integrity and has been able to organise an incontestable presidential election, he said. It is evidence of a great victory in Africa over the forces of terrorism. Olive branch to Iran Turning to Iran, Hollande praised a thawing of relations with Tehran as a glimmer of hope for future peace, but he warned that Irans promises not to pursue a nuclear weapons programme must be translated into concrete gestures. “France expects concrete gestures of Iran which will show that this country renounces its military nuclear program even if it clearly has the right to pursue its civilian programme,” he said. Hollande went on to stress that dialogue was the way forward while warning that he would stand firm on the issues of nuclear proliferation. “The question at hand is to know if these words can translate into actions, especially on the nuclear issue,” Hollande added. “But for the past 10 years talks haven’t gone anywhere. UNITED NATIONS