Business

Does the EU need a Sarkozy win?

ANGELA Merkel's agenda of forcing through austerity programmes from Athens to Dublin faced its toughest test yet with the success of François Hollande in the first round of French presidential elections.

Shares across the eurozone fell sharply yesterday, followed by Wall Street, as investors digested the political news from Paris.

Dismal economic news from the eurozone added to the uncertainty.

Michael Hewson, an economist at CMC Markets, declared that victory for Mr Hollande would be "Europe's worst nightmare".

The euro also fell amid concerns that the consensus, formed largely by Ms Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, that cutting budget deficits should be the main goal of European governments was on the brink of collapse.

The fall was exacerbated by the demise of the Dutch government amid failure to agree on budget cuts.

Centre-right Ms Merkel attempted to put a brave face on Mr Sarkozy's waning powers, with her spokesman declaring: "The Chancellor continues to support President Sarkozy."

While austerity has pushed down German borrowing costs, other countries have seen themselves punished by the financial markets. French 10-year debt is now trading at yields of more than 3 per cent, compared with Germany's 1.6 per cent and Britain's 2.1 per cent.

Mr Hollande believes too much emphasis is being placed on budget cuts, and not enough on measures for growth.

Yesterday he declared that if he became President, it would be "the end of imposing austerity everywhere, austerity that brought desperation to people throughout Europe".

Mr Hollande is also keen for the role of the European Central Bank to be extended beyond just demanding austerity to include a remit of spurring growth, which could involve more exposure for German taxpayers to potential funding of the eurozone's weaker nations.

Mr Hollande plans to balance the French budget a year later than Mr Sarkozy, by 2017. Some economists point out that even this delayed timetable would still be remarkable in a country which has not had a balanced budget since 1979.

As the main plank of Mr Hollande's fightback against the Merkel mantra of austerity, he wants to renegotiate the Treaty on stability, co-ordination and governance.

Those in the Merkel camp point out parallels with the former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, whose finance minister at the time, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, renegotiated a similar "stability pact" with more focus on unemployment and growth in 1997. However, with the absence of German backing, France was unable to secure funding from the markets and the proposals largely foundered.

The downbeat data on the eurozone came from the research company Markit, whose survey found that the eurozone economy fell at its fastest rate for five months.

Stock markets in France, Germany, Spain and the UK fell between 1.8 per cent and 3 per cent.

Topics:  eu, euro, eurozone, france, germany




Fears for welfare of missing horse trainer

Trainer of Grafton Cup Prelude winner Zar Zar Binks Bindi Cheers has a joke with jokcey Matt Paget at the presentation. Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner

Bindi Cheers was last seen at Hawkesbury Race Club

OUR SAY: Major issues on agenda for elected councillors

Daily Examiner employee, Chief of Staff, journalist, Tim Howard. Photo JoJo Newby / The Daily Examiner

Social media abuzz with speculation about who will stand for council

Grafton TAFE students to showcase skills to the world

No Caption

Fundraiser for WorldSkills National Competition finalists

Latest deals and offers

Tom Hiddleston not worried about relationship attention

Attention doesn't bother 'authentic' Hiddleston

Robbie Williams and Ayda Field to expand family?

Robbie Williams and Ayda Field want more children.

Licking incident bars Ariana from performing at White House

Ariana Grande has been blocked from performing at the White House

Taylor Swift's ex throws support behind Kanye West

Calvin Harris shares a sing-along with Kanye West

Michael Jackson's jailed doctor wants his license back

Conrad Murray wants his medical licence back.

Pokemon Go: "Trading" on the horizon as game evolves

No Caption

Pokemon GO players will soon be able to trade with other trainers

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

Massive residential 9-storey high-rise hit by delays

An artist’s impression of the eight-storey-high apartment complex that Bernoth Holdings wants to build in South Toowoomba, next to the City Golf Club.

Developer struggles to get approved high-rise development started