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The soubriquet “the sick man of Europe” was increasingly applied to the French economy in 2013. There were concerns that, while the rest of the Eurozone was recovering, France appeared to have slipped back into recession in the second half of 2013. The economy was initially said to have contracted in the third quarter but managed to rally slightly in the fourth quarter, posting GDP growth of 0.3%, which was higher than the French government’s forecast growth of 0.1%. Meanwhile, unemployment remained high at over 11%, far higher than in Germany. The statistical agency INSEE put France’s GDP growth for the whole of 2013 at 0.3% . It also revised up the third quarter 2013, saying that instead of contracting, the economy was flat through the quarter. On the fiscal front, by the end of 2013 the government of François Hollande had raised taxes by €60 billion in two years, with the tax on high earners hiked to 75%. The early draft of the 2014 budget proposes €15 billion of spending cuts and €3 billion in tax rises. In December 2013 the French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici cut the government’s forecast GDP growth for France in 2014 down to 0.9% from earlier predictions of 1.2%.

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