The Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) are a largely spontaneous protest movement that emerged in France, in October. With no declared political affiliation, they called for lower taxes and a higher level of social transfers and public services.
The protests, in our view, will have a modest negative economic impact on growth, as a consequence of two opposite effects: a fiscal stimulus (with an impact on public deficit) and damage to business and investor confidence. We have just reduced our forecast on French real GDP growth from 1.5% to 1.4% for next year, while the deficit, depending on the measures, could be higher than 3%, before declining in 2020.
We believe the protests will de-escalate but their consequence is that the French government may refrain from pushing further forward reforms in France, and may be in a weaker position to drive reforms at the European level.