Invariably misunderstood by Anglophones, and often derided in the English-language financial press, the French economy remains one of the world’s major economies. For many years characterized by a distinctive economic model in which the French state intervened to correct or prevent market failures, as France has embraced the global market, its economy has converged with the western norm, but it remains different from its western neighbours, particularly Germany and the UK, in a number of important respects.
Frances Lynch provides an authoritative analysis of the modern French economy from its postwar reforms, through the period of Gaullist national planning, to the impact of the recent global financial crisis. She explores the monetary and fiscal policies of successive governments and the country’s economic performance through a variety of indicators. In particular she explores the attempts by the state to correct the regional imbalances associated with the contraction of agriculture and the decline of the textile, coal and steel industries as well as the dominance of Paris. The part played by demographic change, income inequality, the European project and migration patterns in French economic development are also investigated. The strength and competitiveness of the public and private sectors is detailed, including the key industries of finance, energy and transport.
The book is to be welcomed as the first general economic history of France since 2004 and is the first to include the impact of the global financial crisis. It is also an important corrective to recent work that has emphasized the convergence of the French economy and society and instead reasserts the importance of the state in the economic picture analysing the interaction of the state and the market across the postwar years.
Frances Lynch is Reader in History at the University of Westminster. She has written extensively on the economic history of modern France, including France and the International Economy: From Vichy to the Treaty of Rome.