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France

French press review 29 October 2016

media

Hillary Clinton and the French economy are this morning's main topics. Clinton because the boys at the FBI have decided to reopen the case under which the Democrat presidential candidate is accused of cyber-negligence. The French economy because, even if the overall statistics remain flat as a pancake, some sectors are showing real signs of improvement.

The FBI is back on Hillary Clinton's case.

You'll remember that the Democrat presidential candidate was accused of using her private - and therefore not very secure - email account when she was the secretary of state. Her enemies suggested that this "criminal negligence" could have led to the leaking of confidential information.

No confidential information did leak and so the case against Clinton was closed with nothing more than a stern warning in July. But now, says Le Monde, the FBI has found new emails and, while they may turn out to be Hillary's recipe for chunky chocolate cherry cheescake, the early indications are sufficiently strong to warrant the reopening of the cyber-negligence case against her.

The FBI does not know how long it will take to evaluate the newly discovered emails. But Donald Trump has already made his own estimate: "Clinton's corruption is on a scale never seen before," the Republican presidential candidate told a meeting in New Hampshire. "We can't let her take her criminal dishonesty into the White House."

Le Figaro says this latest scandal will certainly hinder Clinton, even if the full results of the new investigation are unlikely to be known until after the polling stations close. The renewed accusations feed Trump's repeated claims that Clinton is dishonest and dangerous and can not be trusted with the nation's top job. "Lock her up!" was Trump's advice to the federal police last night.

Prospects not all bleak for French economy

Le Monde's economy pages try to explain why the French economy is such a limp fish.

The second quarter of 2016 saw gross domestic product in decline; the figures for the last three months are slightly more promising. At least GDP is moving in the right direction again. Slower than an Alpine glacier on a cold day, but moving.

We are talking here about changes measured in 10ths of one percent, while the government is still hoping growth for the year will be about 1.5 percent. Some hope!

Economy and Finance minister Michel Sapin is being very upbeat, insisting that nothing will deflect the government from its determination to get the public debt down to 3.3 percent by the end of the year. Sapin also believes unemployment can be reduced to 9.5 percent at the same time. With a minister like that, who needs Santa Claus?

Back in the real world, says Le Monde, part of the problem is that different sectors of the French economy are doing well at different times giving, say, the manufacturing sector a boost while the transport equipment and energy go into decline. The result is a flat overall statistic which hides the good news.

The undoubted good news is that the building sector is moving strongly, with seven percent more houses being built last month than there were 12 months ago.

People are still buying less, notably less domestic equipment. And investors remain terribly wary of putting their money under the French matress.

The strikes of last spring and the attendant fuel shortages had another negative impact on the growth statistics, according to Sapin. Terrorism has had a dramatic effect on the tourism industry. This year's harvests have been disappointing.

Still, Italy and Spain have been asked by the European Union to explain and justify their rosy plans for economic perfection. The French figures have been accepted.

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