The eco brief. “Whatever the cost”: no more sprinkling, room for targeting

Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy and Finance, during the Meeting of French Entrepreneurs of the Medef, at the Longchamp racecourse, in Paris, August 25, 2021. (ERIC PIERMONT / AFP)

How much will the “whatever the cost” cost? Difficult to answer precisely because it is impossible to do at the moment what a good accountant calls the balance of any account. In front of the employers gathered at the Longchamp racecourse for its annual high mass, Bruno Le Maire only confirmed what was in the air: the State will stop spending lavishly to help companies without distinction, but he won’t turn off the tap all at once. The end of “whatever the cost” will, in reality, be death slowly.

We will move on to tailor-made. Goodbye sprinkling, hello targeting. Until now, all sectors and businesses were held at arm’s length by the police to avoid sinking. But there were windfall effects, some sectors took advantage of them when their activity was not really affected by the crisis.

Now that activity is picking up and growth prospects are improving, we need to differentiate the branches that have taken off well from those that continue to suffer. The Minister of the Economy, Finance and Recovery will bring together professionals in culture, restaurants, hotels, and tourism stakeholders on Monday, August 30, to decide whether to maintain certain aid beyond August 31.

Money released so far: 168 billion euros (figure put forward by Bruno Le Maire) including the European financial support that Paris will gradually receive. Of the 168 billion committed, forty went to the solidarity fund for businesses, support for short-time working, exemptions from charges, etc. The rest being linked to the losses of public revenue and to the commitments made within the framework of the State guaranteed loans (PGE) which must be reimbursed by companies.

Big question: how, and when, to fill this hole in the public finances which will continue to widen with the sectoral aid and the investment plans planned by Bercy? We are waiting for the campaign ideas for the presidential election of April 2022.

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