The persistence of inflation reignites the debate on the beneficiaries of price increases.

Une étudiante devant un sac de produits alimentaires et d’hygiène qu’elle a reçu de l’association Delivr’aide, à Toulouse, le 10 mai 2023.

AWho benefits from the crisis? The recurring question is forcefully imposed in this political and social comeback marked by inflation and declining purchasing power. While Bruno Le Maire, the Minister of Economy and Finance, waits like Sister Anne for the labels on pasta packets and toothpaste to finally reflect the decrease in raw material prices, leaders of the retail industry take turns on the airwaves to accuse manufacturers of taking indecent margins.

“I cannot reword”

“Mechanically, this generates revenue for the State” – linked to the increase in the VAT base – and “for businesses, it’s a breath of fresh air” on turnover, and even on profit margins, stated the controversy expert, failing to mention that his company, a leader in France, has been steadily gaining market share since the beginning of the inflationary crisis.

Does the losing purchase of households really benefit the public coffers? “The state does not benefit during inflation. It is a false accusation: yes, VAT revenues can increase, but so do the operating, investment, and intervention expenses of the state, not to mention the protective measures for the French. Over 90 billion euros have been spent to protect them from inflation: energy shields, social welfare increases, purchasing power packages…”, responds Thomas Cazenave, the Minister Delegate for Public Accounts, to Le Monde.

On Thursday, September 14th, Xavier Bertrand, the president of the Hauts-de-France region, accused the government of making a fortune from the increase in fuel prices. This claim was strongly refuted by the Ministry of Finance, with supporting figures.

The debate on the winners and losers of an expected 5% inflation in 2023 (4.9% in August, according to figures published on Friday, September 15) appears even more legitimate as the gap between a thriving France and one that is struggling continues to widen. On one hand, the CAC 40 index, up nearly 15% in the past year, is reaching new heights, and dividends paid in the second quarter (approximately 50 billion euros) are at their highest.

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