L'économie française - Comptes et dossiers - Édition 2009
Downturn of activity in France
Like the other industrialised countries, France suffered from the world crisis in 2008. GDP rose by only 0.4%, compared with +2.3% in 2007. This very low mean annual growth rate masked a steep decline in the course of the year: activity took a downturn from spring onwards and in the autumn this drop was accentuated still further. Domestic demand, which had increased by almost 3% per year on average from 2004 to 2007, slowed markedly (+0.7%). Household consumer spending grew by 1.0% in 2008, compared with +2.4% in 2007. Over the last ten years, it had always increased by more than 2% per year. Total investment, which had increased markedly over the previous four years, virtually stagnated (+0.6%): household investment (excluding individual entrepreneurs) fell in 2008 for the first time since 1993 (-1.4% compared with +5.5%), general government investment well and truly collapsed ( 4.4% compared with +4.5%) and investment by non-financial companies slowed considerably (+2.6% compared with +8.7%). Furthermore, non-agricultural firms ran down their stocks, which cut growth by 0.3 of a point (after zero contribution in 2007). This massive running down was concentrated at the end of the year. The worsening of the financial crisis in the autumn did indeed prompt companies to limit their cash requirements as much as possible especially as at the same time expected demand was in decline. In addition to the slowing of domestic demand there also was the slowing of external demand. Exports fell slightly (-0.2% after +2.6%), as they were affected by the slowing of world trade. At the same time, imports improved only a little (+0.8% after +5.4%). In fact, these mean annual figures smoothed over the very violent economic reversal that occurred: between spring and summer, in the space of nine months, export and import levels dropped by 7.4 and 3.5 points respectively, in terms of quarterly variations.