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Standard and Poor’s abaisse la note de la France à AA

Référence de l'article : MN3038
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Standard and Poors a publié un communiqué sur son Site WEB où sont expliquées les raisons pour lesquelles cette Agence de notation américaine est amenée à dégrader la note de la France, mais avec perspective stable, sauf dans certaines conditions.
Ces conditions (qui feraient que l’Agence pourrait revoir à la baisse sa note), sont résumées à la fin du communiqué. A noter la troisième d’entre elles : (…) if we see a significant and unexpected increase in risks to financial stability from a further fracturing of financing conditions either within the eurozone or outside it. (Le soulignement du membre de phrase en gras est de notre fait, il ne fait pas partie du communiqué).
 
Vous trouverez ci-dessous le texte intégral du communiqué, et, si vous souhaitiez lire en plus les séries de statistiques économiques et financières élaborées par S&P (attention, elles sont en US Dollars, ce qui donne une volatilité extrême à certaines données), vous êtes invité à cliquer sur le lien au bas de cette page, sachant que les séries statistiques se trouvent sur leur site en fin de communiqué.
 
1. Début du communiqué :
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« Overview
  • We believe the French government's reforms to taxation, as well as to product, services, and labor markets, will not substantially raise France's medium-term growth prospects, and that ongoing high unemployment is weakening support for further significant fiscal and structural policy measures.
  • Furthermore, we believe lower economic growth is constraining the government's ability to consolidate public finances.
  • We are therefore lowering our long-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings on France to 'AA'.
  • The outlook is stable, reflecting our view that the probability that we will raise or lower the rating on France over the next two years is less than one-in-three.
Rating Action
On Nov. 8, 2013, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered its unsolicited
long-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings on the Republic
of France to 'AA' from 'AA+'. At the same time, we affirmed our 'A-1+'
short-term ratings. The outlook is stable.
 
Rationale
The downgrade reflects our view that the French government's current approach
to budgetary and structural reforms to taxation, as well as to product,
services, and labor markets, is unlikely to substantially raise France's
medium-term growth prospects. Moreover, we see France's fiscal flexibility as
constrained by successive governments' moves to increase already-high tax
levels, and what we see as the government's inability to significantly reduce
total government spending.
 
The stable outlook reflects our expectation that the government is committed
to containing net general government debt, which we anticipate will peak at
86% of GDP in 2015. The stable outlook also indicates that we currently
believe that the probability of a further rating action on France over the
next two years is less than one-in-three.
 
In our opinion, the economic policies the government has implemented since we
affirmed the ratings on France on Nov. 23, 2012 have not significantly reduced
the risk that unemployment will remain above 10% until 2016, compared with an
average of 8%-9% prior to 2012. In our view, the current unemployment levels
are weakening support for further fiscal and microeconomic reforms, and are
depressing longer term growth prospects. France's real economic output
rebounded to the levels reached in the fourth quarter of 2007 only in 2013. We
are projecting close-to-zero real GDP growth this year, followed by a cyclical
recovery to an average of just over 1% for 2014-2015.
 
The steps the government has taken so far--such as introducing corporate tax
credits on firms' payrolls, and reaching agreement on labor market reforms and
microeconomic reforms to specific sectors—are positive, in our view, but
probably insufficient to significantly unlock France's economic growth
potential. In particular, we think private-sector growth is unlikely to
improve substantially without further structural reforms. While the government
has taken steps toward microeconomic reforms, the overall effect appears to us
to leave France with less economic flexibility than other highly-rated
eurozone members. As a consequence, French exporters appear to continue to be
losing market share to those European competitors whose governments have more
effectively loosened the structural rigidities in their economies.
 
Since it took office in May 2012, the current French government has started to
strengthen its fiscal framework by implementing a multiannual public finance
planning act and establishing a high council for public finances. However, it
has also relaxed its headline budgetary targets due to the deteriorating
economic background.
 
Successive governments' stated commitment to budgetary consolidation has
relied on increasing an already-high tax burden. We estimate France's general
government revenue will remain at over 53% of GDP through to 2015 (compared to
below 50% prior to 2011), the highest ratio of an OECD member outside the
Nordic region. We project general government spending will stay above 56% of
GDP over the same period, the highest in the eurozone and only surpassed by
Denmark within the OECD. We understand that the government aims to reduce
government spending, in line with the 2012-2017 public finance programming
law. However, we believe that the effect of the government's measures to this
end--both announced and already taken--will be relatively modest.
 
At the same time, political room for additional revenue measures has lessened,
in our opinion. Rising popular disapproval of incremental taxation has led to
recent policy reversals. Combined with our view that the government has
limited room to meaningfully lower spending over the 2013-2016 forecast
horizon, we believe that France's revenue and expenditure flexibility has
diminished. We had previously considered France's fiscal flexibility to be
high compared to its peers. We now forecast a general government deficit of
4.1% of GDP in 2013, in line with the government's current target but above
our previous expectation of 3.5% of GDP when we affirmed our ratings on France
in November 2012. At that time, the government's 2013 target was 3% of GDP.
(See "Ratings On France Affirmed At 'AA+/A-1+' On Commitment To Budgetary And
Structural Reforms; Outlook Negative," published on Nov. 23, 2012 on
RatingsDirect).
 
We estimate net government debt will peak at over 86% of GDP in 2015. We also
forecast gross debt at above 93% of GDP by end-2015, excluding the guarantees
related to the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). (See "S&P
Clarifies Its Approach To Accounting For EFSF Liabilities When Rating The
Sovereign Guarantors," published Nov. 2, 2011.)
 
The 'AA' ratings on France reflect our view of the French economy's underlying
strengths, including its high absolute levels of wealth and productivity, its
high diversification and resilience, supportive demographic dynamics, and
financial sector stability. It also has what we consider to be high
private-sector savings rates and incomes, reflecting a skilled and
well-educated workforce, political stability, and the euro's reserve currency
status. France also benefits from significant monetary flexibility as a core
member of the eurozone. This has been evident in favorable external financing
conditions for the sovereign and what we view as an effective transmission of
appropriately low real interest rates on loans to the nonfinancial sector. At
the same time, we consider that the currently historically low long-term
government bond yields have temporarily reduced pressure on France's general
government deficit.
 
The rating is constrained by the French government's elevated spending and tax
levels, its high and still rising general government debt burden, and
constraints on economic competitiveness. All these factors weaken France's
growth prospects, in our opinion.
 
Outlook
The stable outlook indicates our view that risks to France's creditworthiness
are balanced and that there is less than a one-in-three probability that we
will raise or lower the ratings over the next two years.
 
We could lower the ratings if, contrary to our current expectations, France's
general government deficit widened significantly compared to our current
forecast; if we were to conclude that the government's commitment to contain
public debt is weakening; or if contingent fiscal risks materialized, leading
to net general government debt of more than 100% of GDP. We could also lower
our ratings on France if we see a significant and unexpected increase in risks
to financial stability from a further fracturing of financing conditions
either within the eurozone or outside it.
 
We could raise the ratings if net general government debt fell below 80% of
GDP or there were evidence of improved economic competitiveness and resultant
growth substantially in excess of our current forecast”.
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2. Fin du communiqué.
 
Le communiqué est disponible, avec beaucoup de compléments, comme les « key statistics », ou de nombreuses autres dépêches,  en cliquant sur le lien suivant :
https://www.globalcreditportal.com/ratingsdirect/renderArticle.do?articleId=1214353&SctArtId=194565&from=CM&nsl_code=LIME
 
(Mis en ligne le 11 novembre 2013)