Macron Faces Fresh Test as Outlook for French Finances Dims

France’s finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, said in an interview late Friday published in the Journal du Dimanche that he viewed the announcement as a “positive signal,” adding: “Our public finance strategy is clear. It is ambitious. And it is believable.”

At the end of April, Fitch Ratings cut France’s sovereign credit rating by one notch, to AA–, after a downgrade in December. Scope Ratings, a European agency, put a negative outlook on its assessment of France last month.

France’s economy, the eurozone’s second largest, is forecast to remain subdued until at least next year, but more worrisome to ratings agencies is the nation’s financial situation. France spent vast sums to shield households and businesses from an inflation crisis and painful pandemic lockdowns.

Its debt has surged to 111 percent of economic output, casting France into a club with Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain — the major eurozone economies holding the highest debt ratios. In Germany, which has Europe’s largest economy and is its stickler for budget discipline, the debt burden is 66 percent of economic output.

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