France's national economic assets, 1978-2007: 30 years shaped by real-estate and stock-market capital gains
France’s production system and financial system have undergone deep changes in the past thirty years due to the combined effects of European integration, globalization, and technical innovation. The total share of financial assets has increased, giving businesses and government easier access to finance. Households—the main owners of national wealth—have increased their real-estate assets and diversified their financial assets, in particular by heavily expanding investment in life insurance. The value of national economic assets grew eightfold between 1978 and 2007. It doubled in real terms, while asset prices more than quadrupled, driven notably by buoyant real-estate price growth in the past ten years. After holding steady at 4-4.5 years of GDP in the 1980s and 1990s, national economic assets reached 6.6 years’ worth at end-2007. However, this growth was halted by adverse real-estate and stock-market conditions in 2008.