Why I think it's far better to be in France than the UK during these Economic times

Debate is always good, and I have read enough pessimistic pieces on the board about the dire state of the European Economy, to post a repost on the UK economy, which some seem to regard in far too glowing terms.

Lets start with some facts:

1) The UK Economy now has the largest unemployment figures in it's modern history ,2.7 million, with the more worrying figures of youth and out of work for over two years growing rapidly. So not the place for a youngster looking for work.

2) The BoE is printing money with gay abandon - Quantitative Easing is what Mervyn King calls it. When the current horribly anaemic economy eventually shows signs of real growth - 2015/16 - again thanks to Mr King - this will probably lead to horrendous inflation. Please note the word probably, as economics is not an exact science, and anyone who tells you it is , doesn't understand economics.

3) Growth in the UK next year , if it happens at all will be pathetic, and I will predict will more likely be in a recession, as all current indicators point in that direction.So another wasted year of peoples lives, with no work and no prospects. The light at the end of the tunnel has just been turned off for the foreseeable future in the UK

4) Manufacturing sector has been decimated over the last several decades , to the point now it may never recover. With a strengthening pound, exactly what they don't want in this part of the economic cycle, hundreds of thousands more jobs will go to Asia and Eastern Europe. This is terrible structural news.

5) UK is on paper bankrupt, and has been since the crisis hit. It's total leverage - borrowings - is now around 70% of GDP. The so called reduction in spending has not happened, and in fact borrowing is going up, and according to George Osborne will continue to do so until 2016 at the earliest. In fact in some measurements, the UK economy is in a worse state than Greece. Government bond yields are all that keep the AAA rating, and this is by their fingernails. France is right to question S&P's lack of consistency in this matter, which may be more political than anything else. What do credit rating agencies actually know anyway, they missed the world financial crisis by a barn door. I would trust them as much as a UK MP's expenses claim form.

6) The Banking sector now has far to much of a share of the GDP of the UK economy - around 38% - and the newly created plutocrats have a disproportional effect on government policy. These people have zero allegiance to the UK, or anything outside of making a quick buck. If they feel Frankfurt is a better bet long term than London they will move in an instant. The UK's AAA will go up in smoke, along with it's future.

7) The coalition decided to land the middle classes with a massive new bill, paying for their children's higher education. This will add tens of thousands to parents borrowings over the course of an under graduate degree. Not so in France, it's still completely free.

Now, as I sit in my house in France, with a nice glass of wine and plenty of wood for the fire, I don't think I have it so bad. I really like the Euro and all that it gives me, and I want it to remain at the centre of a healthy and vibrant European union. I think it will, perhaps will a few less members, but it will.

I don't think France is perfect - I'm not that blinkered - and I know they have their own issues, but there are always two sides to a debate.

So now little islanders, do your worst, I'm ready and waiting, so let the debate begin ;-)

Well, I tried but the old company was bought up, was bought up, was bought up, etc and then was part of a US company owned by some brothers named Lehman who rendered my private pension started in 1973 into a piece of paper I can make a dart with instead of it sitting in my filing drawer waiting for the 5% compensation when all legal proceedings are completed... Not intending to be alive in 60 years given how long the list of appeals instances in the USA is and an average of two years between them being heard. The DSS did kindly write that if I pay them some phenomenal amount of tens of thousands I could get the threefold of the present amount. Being that flush at that point in time that the postage was probably beyond me I never bothered to respond... My OH is a couple of decades younger than me. So I shall say no more.

£46, they're pushing the boat out for you (but perhaps it's got a hole in it...!) bit much when you see what others get throughout their lifetime without contributing anything but I don't want us to start back on that one and I acknowledge that there needs to be a safety net - would be nice if there was a better one for those of us putting the years of graft in though! ;-)

I'm entitled to £46 per week after all the time I spent with non-stipendiary grants, fellowships and generally in other countries. I intend to take that for as long as it requires to bankrupt the Treasury. About two years somebody told me :) :)

Celeste, thank you for this history. I remembered that they had the same budget criteria and was surprised to see it raised again as if it were something new. If they didn't enforce it then, what makes us think they will enforce it in the future? Is this the same old BS given out by the current politicians? I suspect it is.

Individual UK personal debt is about £7,500 excluding mortgages. When you count in mortgages, bearing in mind that home ownership in the UK is around 70% compared to 55% in France, then the amount is higher. Property is much more expensive in the UK leading to a higher figure for personal debt. The figures themselves do not tell the hole story. Personal debt in Germany is some of the lowest in Europe but only 40% of homes are owned. The figures themselves are difficult to compare as there are many variables. Denmark, for example, has the largest personal debt in Europe and Switzerland has higher personal debt that the UK. Ireland's personal debt is about three times higher

don't take it all Brian, I want there to be something left in the pot by the time I retire!!! - yes I'm still paying into the UK scheme to try and make sure I get something from over there too, to boost the pitance I'm lickly to get here in France - spreading the risk in this very uncertain world we live in!

Oi, Andrew and Emily... I soon get to be a song, Beatles 'When I'm ... and losing my mind'. Next year I qualify for what remains of my UK pension. So careful who you are thinking about, especially Emily if it is yourself because at your time I shall be long gone or very gaga. But in France!

I have the same feelings of living in France verses the US because the housing prices in the US are still dropping, there is a glut of houses foreclosed or for sale in the US and the real unemployment rate is more like 20% and not the 8+% advertised because of those who have expended their unemployment benefits and no longer appear on the list. I've studied the history of the Great Depression and there are many parallels but here I don't see a great difference except in the area of construction. There are far fewer construction cranes visible, far fewer apartment buildings being built and those are small buildings, there are far fewer houses being built according to my home builder who is going through a very stressful period. At least we don't have a lot of empty half built apartment buildings like in Spain and Ireland. France's economy is down but not depressed. I love France. I don't regret staying here after I retired. The people are polite and efficient even though the stores don't stay open 24/7 like in the US. How often do you need to shop at midnight? I love this family oriented society. The health care is 1st class and the cost of health insurance is very resaonable. No major complaints and a lot of praise for France.

Woah, got me wondering and looked at UK personal debt and the figures are frightening. In fact, the levels are so high that measured in terms of the national economy all together and thereof what is required for public expenditure, resupply and wage payment in the manufacturing sectors and wholesale buying and selling for the retail sector (including fuel, water and such services) it looks like every time somebody puts their hand in their pocket debt increases whether they are personally in debt or not. Compared with France,whilst this country could have the metaphorical receiver call in a very big repayment, the UK would just be put straight into the receiver's hands as bankrupt and yet, for instance, Spain would just get a warning for what might yet happen!

None of it good reading, but where it is today and how will it or can it get better anywhere?

My wife and I got out of English/Welsh universities three years ago. I quit delivering my courses and she took a voluntary severance from her lectureship without being listed but in order to get max payout plus some. They thought they would buy silence. The entire department and the centre we were part of are gone, nothing to do with us but part of the rationalisation. Students get a smaller offer for higher fees and tutorial fee. Do not forget that fees are going up a lot too. Not just 9K because lots of people are not elligible for 'free' places at all or what used to be the grants some of us enjoyed. In real terms 3 x 9k is the starting point, to add at least 3k more for the uni basics and then accomodation, living costs and so on and 27k metamorphoses into probably 60k. A lot of that will be borrowed money. We hear about the debts accrued already, for instance before the 9k fees and look how high they are! Do the idiots running the show not realise that the word gets round? The quality of teaching has gone down immensely and 9k for perhaps nine hours contact with a tutor over a year... OK, they claim that that is not exactly what is meant because other people contribute to tuition, so double it... Value for money? No way, so it is now time for some unis to go broke, deliberately, therefore decrease student intake and push it back to pre-1950s social stratification. Therewith people like me who had a bursary and support grant in Cambridge in 1966 will be made to feel like paupers coming to beg for qualifications again as I experienced it. There is much more going on in the UK than that, class is really re-emerging and the New Jerusalem is actually a copy of an old one that was nearly forgotten. That's why London is full of beggars, cut purses and vandals again if I refer to historical terminology.

Cameron and his recent gaffs are now so blatantly obviously a sign of having lost it, even making people poorer and others richer is going wrong because the rich they take it all away and do not enrich Cameron's sinking ship. Interesting plot. As interesting as the rest of Europe may be, this one is also pretty exciting. Scotland has good reason to leave the UK and just enough resource to survive modestly, then watch England face the savages and ravages of Welsh separatism and regional successionists like the Cornish go for the throat and what that will do to flagging investor confidence abroad.

Good post Celeste, and interesting. If you however refer back to my Economists graph, where the US and UK are included, you get a good comparison of Government/private borrowing ,where the euro zone numbers are eclipsed by the scale of the UK personal debt.

I think we all agree none of it makes particularly good reading, but facts are facts, and it is where we are.

Figures published this week also show applications to university are down 9% in England. There could be many reasons for the drop, and it will interesting to see the data over the next decade, but the increase in fees was bound to have an effect, it's just the degree of that impact long term ;-)

At the very point in our industrial history where knowledge work is the one growth area, this single change could have a long term detrimental consequence.

Hehe, thanks. I'm only half joking - I'm fortunate enough to work in an industry where I can pretty much live where I like (visa and Internet connectivity permitting) so I'm not going to get too wound up about local economic conditions. I don't believe *anyone's* hype - my dad back in Blighty is a huge Eurosceptic who's positively rubbing his hands with glee and I don't listen to him any more than I'll listen to someone who's telling me the Euro will be grand in a few years, once the price of olives goes up and the Italians realise they really do need to pay tax like everybody else. Any way you look at it, the capitalist world is still in the grip of a big economic problem. This isn't a European or British problem, anyone who thinks it is is kidding themselves.The stockbrokers got it wrong, there is a great re-calibration going on and it's going to hurt every country in the world in some way or other. It's also going to get worse before it gets better. So I prefer to focus on things I can control. Like living somewhere warm. ;-)

I believe I do agree. However, follow this with the same kind of reality about the Sterling area that SOME people hold so sacrosanct and, of course, likewise for the US$ to give it a context that SFN users may like or not, but makes everything as clear as this does.

very interesting Celeste and not very nice reading on a quiet Sunday afternoon (but more interesting than the proofreading I'm meant to be doing!) - I know far too little about national and international finance but there again it seems that most politicians don't know much more, does anyone know where the safety exit is...!

Some very good points Simon but one thing doesn't sit right - UK unis now cost something in the region of 6 to 9000 a year whilst French unis cost a few hundred. accommodation costs are less in France (although can be horrendous in some areas I admit) for students than the uk especially if it's a crous room and even better if the caf help which they often do. As for the rest - it's pretty dire for everyone and will be for a long time regardless of which part of europe we're in. Like your last line ;-)

Simon, all good points, but I was not comparing just the UK to France or any country in particular. My post was about some reality on the state of the current UK economy. However, if you turn your comparisons to Germany things look far from rosy for the UK.

I think we all agree, Europe as a whole is in the merde (France and UK included), and this year is going to be tough for us all, no matter where you live. My post was aimed directly at those who believe that Europe is terrible and the UK is perfect, which it patently isn’t.

I think we agree more than we disagree, thats for sure. I also have lived all over Europe, and have loved every minute of it.

1. Unemployment for the youth is higher here in France than the UK, the figures are on theEuropean union site.

2. The French government have done exactly the same thing and sold more of their gold reserves then the UK.

3. Growth in the whole of Europe will be dodgy, having been here for over 24 years growth in France is almost non existant.

4. The manufacturing sector here has been sold off to foreign investors here, there have been a number of kidnappings at factories that have closed down.

5. France should have had it's triple a taken away at least 5 years ago when the figures were released accidently about France's real GDP, funnily enough the news disappeared.

6. Have you seen how much Soc Gen and Credit Agricole have lost over the last 12 months.

7. Higher education is not free here, we were on the RSA line for a couple of years and none of our girls (3) get any help from the state, we paid for our girls education by selling our house.

I love living here but i equally loved living in all of the countries i have had the pleasure to be in.

Nowhere is perfect but all who live in Europe should celebrate their lives as it ain't too bad.

And guys Europe is about living together and celebrating different cultures.

It is 55€ a stere in Pezenas in l'Herault - for semi dry - but never found fully dry on sale