France is heading for the worst recession since World War II: Minister of Finance Bruno Le Maire

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France is facing its deepest recession since the end of the Second World War due to the general lockdown to stem the coronavirus crisis, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned on Monday.

“The worst growth rate in France since 1945 was -2.2% in 2009, after the 2008 financial crisis. We will probably be well above -2.2%” this year, Le Maire told a Senate panel.

This figure was later revised down to 2.9%, and France should do even worse than that, the finance minister told AFP.

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“This is an indication of the magnitude of the economic shock we face,” said Le Maire.

France imposed a national home stay order from March 17 after closing all nonessential businesses. Authorities said the foreclosure would last until at least April 15.

The INSEE statistics office said last month that the foreclosure had reduced overall economic activity by 35%, and estimated that each month of closings would reduce the annual GPD by three percentage points.

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Services, heavy industry and construction are all very successful, said INSEE, while factories are closed and only a few business sectors, such as supermarkets and pharmacies, remain open.

A wave of top-notch French businesses abandoned their profitability targets for the year, while employer associations have warned that hundreds of small businesses and businesses are at risk of going bankrupt.

The government has pledged € 45 billion ($ 49 billion) in loan guarantees and other assistance to help businesses weather the crisis.

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