The Socialist Heart Of France Spits Out Its First Victim

Wolf Richter's picture

Wolf Richter

A new report released by Insee details the inexorable rise of official poverty in France. By the end of 2010, it engulfed 8.6 million people, 5.4% more than in 2009, and 16.7% more than in 2004. The poverty rate jumped to 14.1%, the highest since 1997. For children (under 18), the poverty rate hit 19.6%, for young adults (18 to 25 years old), it was a grizzly 22.5%!

More extreme forms of poverty increased rapidly. Poverty was defined as earning less than 60% of the median income in 2010. But those earning less than 50% of the median income rose to 4.755 million people, 22% more than in 2004. 

The report noted that “the standard of living has been sliding or stagnating for practically all categories of the population except the wealthiest.” Overall, it dropped 0.5% in constant euros in 2010. But for the lower 30%, it dropped between 1.3% and 1.6%, while it increased 1.3% for the top 5%. “Most of the indicators show a progression of inequalities,” the report underlines dryly.

Blame the current unemployment fiasco? Nope, the report says. In 2010, unemployment had been improving as the economy recovered from the financial crisis. Future poverty reports—those for 2011 and 2012—will reflect the pernicious effects of the rise in unemployment that started in mid-2011. And there is no letup in sight.

On Monday, the government reported that the number of temporary workers—an indicator of changes in demand for labor—had plunged 3.5% in October and is now down 13.9% from prior year. A collapse that nearly mirrors the debacle of the financial crisis. But this time around, it started falling from a much lower point than it did in 2008.

The disappearance of jobs, as France skids deeper into its economic crisis, is already putting its mark on poverty: 48% of the people consider themselves either living in poverty or on the way to living in it.

The survey set the tone for the National Conference of the Fight against Poverty and Exclusion this Monday and Tuesday. In a sign that the government was taking poverty seriously, President François Hollande himself would kick it off. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault would close it. It would be packed with ministers, representatives of anti-poverty associations, and even people who live in poverty. All under the motto, “Imagine the social policies of the 21st century” [read.... The Alarming “Sense of Pauperization” in France].

But the government’s display of its Socialist heart is already stalling. Hollande had a scheduling conflict. Instead of getting tangled up in a dicey effort that would call for programs the government wouldn’t have the money to pay for, he decided to hobnob, and hold hands, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Oslo, Norway, during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. It didn’t go unnoticed.

And the tip of the spear of the Socialist left wing, Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg?

In October he’d pleaded flamboyantly that the “made in France” be given preference and that a dose of protectionism be instituted at the European level to stem France’s deindustrialization and protect its car makers from Korean imports [Shooting From The Hip And Hitting Consumers]. Then he’d stirred up a raucous debate with his threat to nationalize ArcelorMittal’s old steel plant at Florange [Nationalizations Take Off In France].

That tip of the spear? Broken off! While in Brussels on Monday to beg the free traders in the EU to impose his industrial vision on the land, he was asked about the ArcelorMittal plant—Ayrault having swept his threat off the table. “I let Prime Minister Ayrault sort things out at Florange,” he said, “That’s his job now.”

Montebourg has been shunted aside. After he got the cold shoulder from the same free traders who’d shot down his plea for protection against Korean imports, he mused, “For 30 years, consumers made the law in Europe, and the result is a disaster. As for me, I defend the producers.” He claimed that the EU was the only entity that didn’t “defend itself against unfair competition”—purposefully forgetting that the EU has a trade surplus with the rest of the world, though France has a trade deficit.

“We’ve become the idiots of the global village,” he added. But hardly anyone was listening to the Socialist firebrand. He has become irrelevant in an unpopular government that is desperately trying to swing the other way.

Fearing their own economic principles, economists and politicians drive Europe into perhaps decades of austerity, transfers from north to south, worsening imbalances, and uncertainty. Uncertainty, however, is the worst thing for business leaders and the European economy. Read.... He Who Says “No” To Austerity And Global Imbalances Must Say “Yes” To The Northern Euro.

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cooperbry's picture

Let them eat cake.

max2205's picture

Stfu and eat ur cheese

falak pema's picture

food stamps in the US and poverty in France, as in Club Med Europe; can't hide the truth anymore under the rug of "we are the people empire of the sun" meme, of capitalism triumphant as proclaimed under Reagan/Thatcher/Clinton/Bush. 

First world now will start paying bigtime the price amongst the People for the New global Oligarchy norm. Socialism will be one way of emptying out the shit storm of fiat mayhem. The other way will be war.

As for statism and free markets; that's such a laugh. THis market today is the greatest expression of the BROKEN THERMOMETER which is supposed to tell us the temperature of the patient. Rudderless, clueless, manipulated and shameless capitalism.

Charybdis and Scylla; our world heads for the rocks, as these are not diamonds, and they are not a girl's best friend! 

mumcard's picture

Socialism is grand isn't it.  We'll all be equal as we starve to death.

q99x2's picture

Who in their right mind would want to control the world like it is. Time to run for cover. Its someone else's problem. Good luck may the force be with France.

SAT 800's picture

I haven't laughed so hard since my neighbor got a flat tire on his electric wheel chair. ZeroHedge is getting quite entertaining.

SAT 800's picture

"We've become the idiots of the global village"---yeesss. This is not only quotable, it;s true. France was the instigator behind the Euro; whose purpose was to prevent the "unfair" German Mark from kicking around the poor little Franc; the whole exercise is now clearly an example of kicking the can down the road; all the underlying realities remain; but the final explosion will be much more entertaining.

Unpopular Truth's picture

Poverty as common people see it (not enough to eat) can reach more than 80%.

Here, France defines it as "earning less than 60% of the median income"

i.e. by definition it can never be more than 50% (because 50% earn above the median)

Sambo's picture

The next on the agenda of the mighty shadow govts of the world is to wipe out 2/3rds of the population in Africa, S.Asia, S.America, and all of the once rich and now poor in Europe, N.America, Russia and the middle east incl Afghanistan/China/Tibet/Pakistan. Impoverization, incurable diseases, war will be the methods used.

Stand up for your fundamental rights as humans! you will die one day anyways....might as well go to a better place fighting evil.

SAT 800's picture

I've got a better idea; you die fighting for your fundmental rights; and I'll continue playing golf in Hawaii. Deal?

TPTB_r_TBTF's picture



might as well go to a better place fighting evil.

Tell me more about this Better Place.  How many virgins await me there?

Transformer's picture

No Virgins.  It's a feel good inside thing.

markovchainey's picture

I thought virgins were a feel good inside thing...

Doubleguns's picture

They have been the idiots for a long time. They just never looked in the mirror before.

skunzie's picture

We'd be best to bite the bullet now, lest this be the fate of los Estados Unidos.

Doubleguns's picture

Look in the mirror. Its to late.

economics9698's picture

If anyone is interested here is a blog about teaching economics and the bull shit textbooks that are used.  These textbooks are instruction manuals on social justice and fascism 101. 

Everyone wonders why students are getting ripped off, well I did my part to expose this bull shit.

My kids will know I was not a fascist and I will die with a clean conscience.

FreeMktFisherMN's picture

Keep up the fight for free markets. I'm a junior econ major who is doing the same, giving the Austrian POV to these statists. 

However, the videos of the lady I don't care for. That is not feminine at all for a woman to be doing that and not modest at all, and she accuses RP of being an anti-semite when that is false and she clearly doesn't know the difference between anti-Zionism and anti-semitism.

Being anti-zionist is under the umbrella of being non-interventionist/pro-sovereignty. It doesn't matter what the country; foreign aid is unconst'l. 

economics9698's picture

The videos are from another poster.  I am economics9698.