The French High Council for Financial Stability recently published its eighth annual report, in which it reviews the French macroeconomic and financial environment up to September 2022. Among other things, the HCSF points to tighter financing conditions for businesses, impacted by rising interest rates.
Coping with soaring prices
Households aren't the only ones worried about rising energy prices. Production lines at a standstill, deteriorating margins, strained supplies... Companies are sounding the alarm and calling on the government to take emergency measures.
Some members of the government have called for a system of partial payment of bills above a target price. This system would be financed by the 7 billion euros in revenue generated by capping the price of electricity to producers at 180 euros per MWh. For the time being, however, more targeted measures seem to be envisaged.
#PouvoirDachat | 🕓 Against rising prices, the State is taking action: since October 1, 2022, #companies with 20 to 249 employees have benefited from a reduction in employer contributions, in respect of overtime.- Ministry of Economy and Finance (@Economie_Gouv) October 25, 2022
More info ➡ https://t.co/6WZ0Q9xVCP pic.twitter.com/SpiutqPQoK
#PouvoirDachat | Against rising prices, the State is taking action: certain rules concerning meal vouchers are changing:- Ministry of Economy and Finance (@Economie_Gouv) October 24, 2022
✔ Payment ceiling: €25
✔ Use for any food product, whether directly consumable or not.
More info 👉 https://t.co/vT9VoVrA4x pic.twitter.com/51EkT6b6d3
In the meantime, the situation remains uncomfortable for companies that have followed the advice of the Head of State and have not secured their energy purchase price for 2023.
Emmanuel Macron had explained that France would " work collectively, with the Europeans, to return to more reasonable prices and provide visibility on gas and electricity prices, so that all this is sustainable ".
Tighter financing conditions
For companies, the hardest part is yet to come, as the current rise in interest rates presents, in the medium term, " a risk of tightening [their] financing conditions ", according to the HCSF in its report published on October 25.
The figures announced by the French organization show that companies could have to pay 22 billion euros to banks over the next three years as a result of rising interest rates. If this scenario, based on an immediate rise in lending rates of 200 basis points, is confirmed, financing conditions for companies could deteriorate significantly. The HCSF points to the consequences for access to new financing, debt servicing and refinancing, as well as for non-bank financing.
In a study carried out by the ECB, the banks questioned on the subject felt that conditions had " tightened substantially " for businesses and households. It has to be said that banks, which anticipate a rise in the cost of risk, are becoming more watchful.
While corporate lending remained buoyant in August, with outstandings up 7.2% to almost 1,300 billion euros, this trend is unlikely to continue in the wake of the gradual rise in interest rates. The HCSF is closely monitoring the risks to the French financial system.