In Q3 France posted a major surprise, with its 18.2% QoQ rise in GDP beating both consensus and our expectations, and leaving the French economy only about 4.0% below pre-Covid levels. But with the second wave and the new lockdown taking a toll on activity and sentiment, we now expect a new contraction of 3.3% QoQ in Q4. This will be followed by a slow and uneven recovery, which will reach full traction only from Q2 2021, when we assume restrictions will be fully lifted. In the meantime, a ‘stop and go’ process may take place, making the recovery path bumpier and more uncertain.
As the virus is successfully contained and a vaccine becomes widely available from mid-year 2021, which is our working assumption, France’s economic performance will improve and continue above potential, helped by the coordinated recovery of the rest of the Eurozone and the policy backing and domestic investment ‘relaunch’ plan. Therefore we expect the French economy to contract by about 9.0% YoY on average in 2020 and to grow by about 6% YoY in 2021.
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