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The government facing the three transitions

Faced with the three transitions – demographic, energy and digital – only a single European capital market would make it possible to achieve the financing objectives, argues Jean-Hervé Lorenzi.

Remember this quote from Camus in The Myth of Sisyphus, “The truth is that the path does not matter, the will to arrive is enough for everything.”

The life of government is an eternal restart. Everyone knows that we have four mountains to climb for the future of our country: the education system, the health system, the debt and reindustrialization. Every government says in the very first minutes of its arrival that these issues will be dealt with as a priority with the energy and resources that will make it possible to obtain results. Behind this obligatory discourse is missing the objective, namely to succeed in the unimaginable challenge of succeeding in three simultaneous transitions, each of which will require totally disruptive approaches.


Succeeding in one of them would already be a success. The convergence of the three presupposes an exceptional understanding of situations. The three transitions are, first of all, demography, i.e. pensions and dependency. The energy transition, on the other hand, requires a radical transformation of consumption and production patterns based on decarbonization and sobriety. As for the digital transition, it covers research, European cooperation and the training of thousands of engineers and technicians. If these three transitions were successful, the goal of full employment would likely be achieved and our major foreign trade and budget deficit imbalances would be greatly reduced. According to our calculations, this assumes an investment rate of 24% of GDP, i.e. 2 points more than today, in order to return to average growth, close to that of France between 1994 and 2008.

But to say that it is possible does not mean that it is easy. The first issue is to rebuild an affectio societatis between the French and work. Many of us, especially the less skilled, feel that we have a job that is poorly regarded, poorly paid and from which we cannot extricate ourselves under any circumstances. The real revolution consists in giving a real possibility of progression throughout life and in profoundly modifying the hierarchical systems that fossilize our work environment. As we can see, we touch as much on the qualitative as on the quantitative, because there is no great laziness in France but the lack of a more fulfilling organization of work.

French savings

Equally important is the problem of financing investments. French savings are not sufficiently dedicated to financing the French economy. This has been greatly reinforced with the ageing of the population, bearing in mind that a very large part of the financial savings of the French are held by retirees, who are statistically risk-averse.

If we want to finance these three transitions, each of which, in the near term, represents an annual amount of between €50 and €100 billion, we must both fight for a real capital market in Europe to finally exist, and above all mobilise our savings. The latter objective will only be achieved if a certain number of long-term investments with uncertain returns are partly guaranteed. Let us recall that the financing of the enormous nuclear program of forty years ago was financed by guaranteed private savings. All this leads to a focus of political discourse on two disruptive logics, one on work, the other on the use of savings.

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