Breakage is currently limited. The social movement against pension reform, which is disrupting transport in particular, should not weigh excessively on economic growth in 2019, despite significant sectoral effects.
After the Yellow Vests, this was the new concern for the French economy in 2019: would growth be severely penalized by a strike whose duration is particularly long?
Wednesday before the senators, the governor of the Bank of France, François Villeroy de Galhau, wanted to be reassuring, by evoking an impact "of at most" 0.1 point on the gross domestic product (GDP), already integrated in the Banque de France's 0.2% growth forecast for the fourth quarter. He also confirmed the growth forecast for the whole year at 1.3%.
Effects limited to the transport sector
The Banque de France forecasts are based in particular on a survey which it carries out every month among French companies. “A year ago at the time of the Yellow Vests movement, 20% of companies said they were affected. Today, on the same sample, 10% of companies are in the same sectors, mainly accommodation, catering and transport ”, detailed Mr. Villeroy de Galhau.
The strike is essentially confined to the transport sector, which penalizes the movement of people and goods, especially in Ile-de-France, even if refineries, education or certain liberal professions also participated in the movement.
In mid-December, the Governor of the Banque de France had already explained, in the light of historical experience, that social movements “ultimately weigh little on economic growth, with rather a simple shift in activity, in particular with the yellow vests a year ago and during the great strikes of 1995 ".
In 1995, growth was cut by 0.2 points in the fourth quarter. And since then, the other strikes have had an impact that has never exceeded 0.1 point. This time, "industrial production does not seem affected, whereas in 1995 it had been affected by various blockages", also recalled mid-December Julien Pouget, head of the economic department at INSEE, which has yet to release its own estimate of the impact of the strikes.
There remains the morale of households and their consumption…
The movement, source of uncertainty, however weighed on the morale of households, which fell in December for the first time in a year, according to INSEE. However, this indicator is an important element in assessing the future level of consumption, the main driver of the country's economic growth.
Beyond the macroeconomic effects, certain sectors are suffering greatly from the movement which has now lasted for more than a month. "I don't think it will cost France very dearly," Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire noted on Monday, while acknowledging that "it is very expensive for a number of traders."
Tourism professionals and shopkeepers, particularly in Ile-de-France, are indeed the main victims of the strike movement against the pension reform. In total, the drop in turnover reached 30% to 40% for traders and craftsmen in Paris, according to the president of the Chamber of Trades and Crafts (CMA) Bernard Stalter.