Growth should return to some colors at the beginning of the year. According to an estimate of the Banque de France published this Monday, February 11, Gross domestic product (GDP) would rise 0.4% in the first quarter. The activity would thus regain strength after a year 2018 (1.5%) much less dynamic than 2017 (2.3%). In comparison, the French economy has never exceeded 0.3% quarterly growth last year, according to INSEE figures.

The assumption of the central bank, in line with the forecast of the public statistics institute, is up compared to the figure of the fourth quarter of 2018 (0.3%) communicated by INSEE. For the government, this announcement should give him a little respite while the movement of "Yellow Vests" continues after more than three months of consecutive mobilizations.

Read also: Why growth fell to 1.5% in 2018

Break in the industry

The banking institution, which relies for this estimate on its monthly business survey, explains this slight rebound by an increase in demands in the building, "Where the order books are very well stocked". In January, the business climate was 105 as in December. In February, business leaders anticipate an increase in activity.

On the industry side, the situation is less favorable. Last month, industrial production declined in strategic sectors such as aeronautics and chemicals. The business climate went from 102 in December to 99 in January. The leaders plan a resumption of activity in February.

Finally, in services, the Banque de France survey reports less good results with a slowdown in activity. This represents bad news for the tricolor economy compared to the weight of the tertiary sector. The activity index decreases particularly in the interim and more modestly in catering and accommodation.

Read also: Temporary employment slowed significantly in 2018

Falling forecasts

At the European level, the outlook is darkening. According to the latest statement from the European Commission published on February 7th, growth slowed significantly to 1.9% in the European Union in 2018, compared to 2.4% in 2017 and 1.6% in 2019. In the euro area, the Brussels-based institution is also forecasting a slowdown in activity from 1.9% in 2018 to 1.3% in 2019. The main economic powers of the Monetary Union should still see their growth. 'steam.

The European organization has lowered its growth projections for France from 1.5% to 1.3%. For Germany, the gross domestic product should mark the step from 1.5% to 1.1% with a clear blow in the industry across Germany. In the second half of the year, automobile production experienced major difficulties, including the introduction of anti-pollution standards.

In Italy, the slowdown should be even more pronounced with GDP rising from 1% to 0.2%. Already, the economy of the peninsula was overdue during the last semester with a recession after two consecutive quarters of negative growth. Finally, Spain should also experience a decline with GDP rising from 2.5% to 2.1% in 2019.

Expected purchasing power gains

The French economy should be supported by a rise in purchasing power. The government has made the bet to boost consumption with the announcement of measures on December 10 to boost the wallet of the French. The set of arrangements decided by the executive should result in an average income gain per household of 440 euros, according to recent work of the French Observatory of Economic Conditions.

All in all, "the national fiscal policy would have a high impact on GDP growth of 0.5 point, thanks in particular to the measures resulting from the 'yellow vests' crisis, which alone will improve the GDP growth rate of 0.3 point in 2019, "according to the research organization.

If the slowdown in inflation anticipated by the European Commission (2.1% in 2018 against 1.4% in 2019) could be favorable to the purchasing power of the French, some economists fear that these gains are moving towards the saving.

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