Economist time-bomb taunt: France fumes

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SummaryFrench officials angrily rejected a charge by Britain's The Economist weekly.

who on Thursday travelled to Berlin to explain France's efforts to boost its declining international competitiveness to Chancellor Angela Merkel, also denounced the cover.

You are talking about a newspaper which is resorting to excess to sell paper. I can tell you that France is not at all impressed, he told French TV station i>tele late on Thursday.

Laurence Parisot, head of the employers' organisation Medef, said The Economist was behind the times because the government had begun to take measures to restore French competitiveness.

Six months after his election, Hollande has seen his popularity ratings plunge as he struggles to fulfil promises to reduce France's public deficit while kick-starting a domestic economy where unemployment has risen to 17-year highs.    His government surprised some observers with ambitious moves last week to grant 20 billion euros in annual tax credits to companies as a way of lowering the high labour costs seen as holding French industry back, but many economists believe the measures are not sufficient by themselves.

In his first formal news conference since coming to power, Hollande defied his critics on Tuesday by vowing to reform at his own pace and asked French voters to judge him at the end of his mandate in 2017.

The government... has finally recognised the competitiveness problem in the past few months, said Peet. But it is only a diagnosis, words. Now they must act.

Hollande had some good news on Thursday when data showed France's economy unexpectedly grew by 0.2 percent in the third quarter as households splashed out on clothing and other items, although the risk of recession next year is not averted.

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