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A time for analysis

Cette chronique n’a pas vocation à évoquer la situation économique des thérapeutes ni des psychanalystes, mais plutôt de tenter de comprendre ce qui traverse et agite les coulisses des grands marchés. Et les éditorialistes de s’en donner à cœur joie, comme si la conduite des affaires du monde exigeait une nouvelle vigilance intellectuelle.

This editorial does not aim to address the economic situation through therapy or psychoanalysis. Instead, it seeks to understand the key factors at play behind the scenes of the major markets. And editorialists are attacking the subject with relish, as if the management of world affairs called for fresh intellectual vigilance.

In Le Point, Pierre-Antoine Delhommais grabs the reader’s attention with the fairly provocative title, “The hunt for the rich is on”. Without batting an eyelid he goes on to say that “by complicating the lives of people with large incomes, France could once again drive out its lifeblood”, adding that “tax emigration also concerns young professionals with substantial compensation”.   The job market has indeed been a key focus of attention this week. First of all in the UK, where, against the blurry backdrop of Brexit, the unemployment rate paradoxically stood at just 4% at the end of the year, the lowest since 1975. French daily Le Figaro posits a number of explanations: “The economic indicators confirm the robust health of the British job market despite the disruptions of Brexit. ‘Despite the growth slowdown, the job market continues to flourish in the UK,’ says the National Statistics Office, which also reported a substantial decrease in the share of the non-working population, mainly concerning over-65s and women. Meanwhile, the number of highly precarious ‘zero-hour’ job contracts, with no guarantee of working hours, has fallen sharply in the last year. Great Britain reported 167,000 net job creations compared with end-September. And the number of salaried workers has risen 3.4% year on year, at a much brisker pace than inflation, which slowed to 1.8% in January. As a result, household purchasing power improved significantly in 2018, with real income gaining 1.3% year on year.”   The economy is decidedly prone to paradoxes, as these healthy job market figures coincide with the gloomy Brexit-induced environment. “Economic growth slowed to 1.4% in 2018, and the forecasts for 2019 are hardly encouraging given the haze hanging over EU exit conditions, to be decided on by the end of March. The Bank of England has made a drastic revision to its growth forecast for 2019, lowering it to 1.2%, which would be the weakest level since the end of the financial crisis ten years ago. For Howard Archer, an economist at EY Item Club, ‘it remains to be seen whether the job market will remain solid in the first few months of 2019 with the economy still under pressure and uncertainties over Brexit on the rise’. He considers that some companies have hired more in the last few months so as not to miss out on qualified staff given the fall in the number of professionals coming from the EU. The National Statistics Office has also identified recruitment difficulties on the part of companies in the retail and health sectors.”

In France, all eyes are on the executive market. Le Figaro Economie reports that “between 270,700 and 292,000 hires are expected. Though the increase is lower than in 2018. The APEC executive employment organisation published its recruitment forecasts on Wednesday following a survey of 10,000 companies in late 2018. The organisation’s managing director Bertrand Hébert commented: ‘Executive employment has risen for the sixth consecutive year, and we expect to reach a record 300,000 executive hires by 2021’. This momentum should reinforce the almost full-employment status of this professional category, with an estimated unemployment rate of 3.8% compared with an overall 8.8% in France. The downside, according to Bertrand Hébert, is that ‘the long-term unemployment of executives [Ed.: 18 months] is not an abstraction, currently concerning some 100,000 people’.” The economy is still not ready to take to the shrink’s couch.    

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