French borrowing costs surge on Macron wage rises, tax cuts

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France’s 10-year borrowing costs climbed to their highest level compared with Germany in a year and a half on Tuesday as French President Emmanuel Macron announced spending measures in a bid to restore calm after weeks of violent protests.

Macron announced wage rises for the poorest workers and tax cuts for pensioners late on Monday, measures that are expected to increase public spending by 8 billion to 10 billion euros.

France’s 10-year bond yield rose by five basis points on Tuesday as a result.

The spread over equivalent German bonds hit 47.5 basis points, its widest level since May 2017.

“The measures suggest there will be more spending from the French government, which implies a higher deficit in 2019 and weakens the financial position,” said Commerzbank rates strategist Rainer Guntermann.

“French newspapers suggesting this morning that we could have a 3.5 per cent deficit in France in 2019, which complicates the discussion in the euro area and gives other countries such as Italy an argument for a higher deficit.”

A French newspaper report cited officials as saying the measures could push the country’s budget deficit to 3.5 per cent of gross domestic product.

That does not take into account any spending cuts or tax increases that may be announced.

Asked whether the budget deficit would be kept below the euro zone’s limit of 3 per cent of GDP, an Elysee official said France had some room on spending if a one-off tax rebate, which inflates the deficit by 20 billion euros in 2019, was not taken into account.

The European Commission earlier this year rejected Italy’s draft budget, which provided for a deficit of 2.4 per cent of GDP in 2019, up from 1.8 per cent this year.

The European Commission is willing to accept an increase in Italy’s deficit target to 1.95 per cent for next year, the newspaper La Repubblica said on Tuesday.

Italy’s 10-year government bond yields were up 3.5 basis points at 3.13 per cent on Tuesday. The spread over Germany widened to 287 bps. (Reuters/NAN)

– Dec. 11, 2018 @ 12:35 GMT |

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