Posts Tagged ‘Paris’

Vive la France!!!

Monday, August 8th, 2011

The popular image of French men and women spending their time in sidewalk cafes sipping aperitifs, smoking Gauloises and watching the world go by belies the fact that the nation’s residents work the least amount of hours in the world, yet are among the most productiveAccording to a recent UBS survey, people globally work an average of 1,902 hours annually.  The work day is even longer for people in Asian and Middle Eastern cities.  By contrast, residents of Paris and Lyon have the shortest workday at 1,582 and 1,594 hours annually, respectively.

In 2010, France’s GDP totaled $2.113 trillion; that represented a 1.6 percent growth rate and a GDP per capita of $38,016.  The French achieve their high standard of living while working 16 percent fewer hours than the average person, and nearly 25 percent less than their Asian peers.  Visit France and you’ll see that their standard of living is probably significantly higher than the GDP numbers indicate.  If you divide France’s GDP per capita by actual hours worked, you’d probably learn that the French are achieving some of the highest returns on work-hours invested.

Because healthcare and education are virtually free, the French have the ability to put more emphasis on family and pleasure rather than making a profit.  Additionally, the French have 11 national holidays every year and many workers take extra time off if those holidays occur on a Tuesday or Thursday.  Then there’s France’s legendary vacation time – which can range from five to eight weeks a year.  Despite this and with an unemployment rate of 9.5 percent as of May 2011, France remains the world’s fifth largest economy.  And the French achieve all that with a 35-hour workweek, which was adopted in 1998 in an effort to create more jobs for the unemployed.  The early retirement age is 62, although most French opt to retire at 65.

France scores among the top 10 in International Living magazine’s “Best Quality of Life” survey.  According to the article on the results of the 2011 survey, “Still, it can be useful to step back and see how each nation fares relative to others when we do consider these categories.  To come out ahead, a country must be an all-around good pick, not just a standout in one area or two. And that explains why the top finishers are developed nations like the U.S. and the rest of our top 10 — New Zealand, Malta, France, Monaco, Belgium, Japan, United Kingdom, Austria, and Germany.  None is among the most affordable nations on the planet.  But they all offer other benefits.  These nations are home to plenty of expats who are thrilled with life in their chosen havens.”

Writing on, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman says that “It’s true that French GDP per capita (output divided by the number of people in the nation), for example, is only about three-quarters of the American level, when adjusted for purchasing power.  But when you look closely at that number, the story is certainly more complex than many people think.  Let’s look at data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the United States — at data on France in particular, since that’s the country Americans have strong feelings about, right?  I’m going to focus on the data from 2008, not 2009.  In 2009, businesses in the United States laid off a lot of workers, while European firms did not.  That produced a divergence in productivity that had more to do with short-run business cycle events than with fundamental trends.  Data from 2008 allows for a better sense of the underlying differences.  GDP, per capita, per person, France produces 73 percent of what the United States produces in a year.  GDP per hour worked: A French worker produces about 99 percent of what an American worker produces in one hour.  Number of workers: For every 100 workers in the United States, France has about 84 workers.  Hours per worker: For every 100 hours an American works, a French person works about 88.  So French workers are roughly as productive as American workers.”

At present, France is the fastest growing economy in the European Union.  According to Ken Hurst of Works Management, “New productivity data published today (4 February) highlights a further rise in labor productivity across the European Union, thereby extending the current period of improvement to 21 months.  Furthermore, the pace of increase accelerated since December to a five-month high and put France in first place in the growth league.  Broken down by nation, the latest data highlighted gains across the EU’s four largest economies, the strongest of which was recorded in France – where output per employee rose at the strongest pace since last July.  Marked gains were recorded in both the manufacturing and service sectors.”

Foreign Investors Like Luxury

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

You know what they say about polls.  Still, a recent one is an interesting temperature reading for the new economy.   Overseas investors in United States real estate prefer retail versus office or industrial space right now, according to a recent issue of Commercial Property News. This is just one conclusion in a survey that examined the influence of the current housing slump on the economy and consumer spending.  Nearly 200 members of the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE) revised their favored property rankings from the previous year.  Retail soared to first from fifth place, while hotels fell from second to fourth place  Office space plunged from first place to last. “While foreign investors are aware of the high occupancy and rental-rate increases in the office market, they fear that the credit crunch will cause tenants to lay people off and contract their space needs,” reported Karin Shewer, a principal for New York City-based Real Estate Capital Partners, which advises European investors about American real estate markets.  Shewer says multifamily’s lack of popularity is the result of a growing uneasiness with the United States condominium market.“Another issue with multifamily is that cap rates are very low right now and returns are limited,” Shewer said.  The strong preference for hotels relates to aging baby boomers.  According to Shewer, “A lot of baby boomers will inherit from parents who were conservative savers, and as they move toward retirement, they will have more time to travel, and they will occupy hotels.”  So why retail at the top?  Dan Fasulo, managing director for Real Capital Analytics, Inc., notes that “Retail is a diverse property type with many sub-niches.  What these investors might be referencing is high-end urban luxury retail.  We have seen a boom like never before in high-fashion apparel, jewelry and other upscale specialty stores that have been expanding globally as the worldwide economic expansion has driven up disposable incomes of affluent people around the world.”  The AFIRE survey also found that foreign investors still prefer American real estate to that in other countries.  To illustrate, AFIRE’s members collectively own $700 billion worth of real estate worldwide; $230 billion of that is invested in the United States.Lastly, AFIRE members were asked to rank their favorite cities for investment.  New York City and Washington, D.C., took first and second place.  London, Paris and Shanghai completed the list.