Emmanuel Macron reconnects with economists, like Jean Pisani-Ferry or Philippe Aghion, to get France out of the social crisis

Emmanuel Macron during his visit to the Aluminum Dunkerque factory, in Loon-Plage (Nord), May 12, 2023.

Long months had ped since the last time the “president’s economists” had crossed the gates of the Elysee Palace. On Wednesday May 10, in the salon des portraits, Emmanuel Macron invited four big names during a discreet lunch, the first in this format since September 2022: Jean Pisani-Ferry, professor of economics at Sciences Po Paris, former pillar of the 2017 presidential campaign; Philippe Aghion, professor at the College de France, who partly trained Mr. Macron in his social-liberal line on innovation and growth; Pierre Cahuc, labor market expert whose work irrigates the macronist economic program; Gilbert This, president of the Group of experts on the minimum wage, which supported Emmanuel Macron in 2017 and 2022.

For almost three hours, they exchanged with the President of the Republic and the all-powerful Secretary General of the Elysée, Alexis Kohler. On the menu: to move forward to pull France out of the social swamp and project it towards a “future agenda”, in the words of Emmanuel Macron. In recent days, the Head of State has been firing on all cylinders to boast of his economic record. Pension reform? “To create a little more wealth for the whole nation”, he repeats in South West. The wish of its Prime Minister to curb difficult reforms? “We must continue to invest and reform, quickly and strongly”, he retorts in Challenges. The specter of a further downgrading of the sovereign rating? “Fitch is deeply mistaken in its political analysis”, does he ping in Opinion.

All in his will to get back on his feet, the Head of State resumes speaking with visitors who are sometimes scalded. A polar atmosphere had settled over the pension crisis with some of the economists invited. “An accordion-like relationship… and the accordion gets tighter”, minimizes a relative of the tenant of the Elysée. Concerned about the issue of fairness, Jean Pisani-Ferry believed in a grandstand at World, at the end of January, that the pension reform “should have given priority to increasing the contribution period”, rather than raising the legal retirement age. Optimistic, Philippe Aghion has long hoped that the power will renew the dialogue with the leader of the CFDT, Laurent Berger, in vain.

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The tide is turning, we believe at the Elysée, and the President of the Republic is looking for inspiration. “They discussed the economic measures that can really bend the curves”slips an adviser to the Head of State, in particular “Efforts that companies can make to promote increased income”. From the outset, the spiral of inflation occupied part of the exchange, while the top of power scrutinizes the dynamics of disinflation. The story is not over, warned participants, because the end of the “anti-inflation” device, without effort from large retailers, could slow down the fall in prices. Confident, Mr. Macron outlines, the following Monday on TF1, the objective of food price inflation “absorbed by fall” by putting the distributors ” around the table “.

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