Ihe contrast is striking. Crowds of anonymous people march through the streets to protest against plans to make them work longer. At the same time, the elite of French multinationals is celebrating one of the finest years in its history. A big difference in the image of this CAC 40, whose most beautiful jewels – LVMH, Kering or Hermès – flood the planet with luxurious perfumes, precious jewels and unaffordable bags, when inflation pushes the most modest to count the packages of pasta in the supermarket. Haute couture is flaunting, while little sweaters from Camaïeu or shoes from San Marina no longer find customers. Unbearable spectacle, which only fuels misunderstanding and stirs up anger.
Should we therefore burn the CAC 40? We can in any case instruct his trial. In other words, would France be more prosperous without its very large companies? The fortune of these companies is essentially built up abroad. For many, especially those at the top of the ranking, France represents only a minority of their sales and their workforce. In this, they contribute to the influence of France and its balance of payments through the repatriation of dividends.
They are also essential in terms of irrigating the tricolor entrepreneurial fabric. In the luxury sector alone, which represents a third of the valuation of the CAC 40, nearly 20,000 jobs are to be filled in France, according to the profession. Their good health is not for nothing in an unemployment rate at its lowest for almost forty years (excluding the year 2008) and business creations at their highest ever. By enriching their shareholders, these large groups allow them to invest in younger companies. In 2022, young growing companies were able to recover 13 billion euros from investors, something never seen before.
French rating champions play an essential role in the health of the country’s economic fabric. But there is also the dark side of the story. Behind this screen that smells of heady perfume and fine silk hide other realities. In the name of competitiveness, they bear an overwhelming responsibility for the relocations that have deindustrialized France over the past thirty years.
Car manufacturers are the perfect illustration of this: going to the east and south of Europe, they have disintegrated the French fabric. Result: employment is no longer progressing in France, but abroad. They also deploy a certain talent for evading taxes through tax optimization. Their tax rate is much lower than that of local SMEs. Finally, their power feeds their influence both economically and politically in the service of their interests.
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