HomeBusinessFrance’s economy beats expectations in the fourth quarter, while Germany’s falters.

France’s economy beats expectations in the fourth quarter, while Germany’s falters.

France assumed Germany’s traditional role as the driving economic force in Europe after a strong finish to last year, while the German economy contracted in the final quarter of 2021 as it grappled with a resurgence of the coronavirus, official data showed Friday.

The French economy grew 7 percent in 2021 — its fastest pace since 1969 — buoyed by government subsidies that helped to fuel investment and production, both of which surpassed prepandemic levels, according to official data released by the Insee statistics institute in Paris. In the final quarter of the year, the economy grew 0.7 percent, bolstered by an uptick in consumer spending.

“It is a spectacular rebound for the French economy,” the country’s economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, told France 2 television. “It erases the economic crisis.”

France is gearing up for a presidential election in April, and President Emmanuel Macron is finds himself in a bruising campaign to serve a second five-year term in office. His government has opted to keep only minimal pandemic restrictions in place and instead encouraged people to get vaccinated in an effort to keep the country’s economy open.

In Germany, where vaccination rates have lagged behind those of France, the government enacted more restrictions at the onset of winter, requiring shoppers to show proof of vaccination and closing down holiday markets. These measures dampened consumer spending, which contributed to the 0.7 percent contraction in the last quarter of 2021, according to data released by the Federal Statistical Office.

Overall, the German economy grew 2.8 percent in 2021, slightly above the 2.7 percent expected by officials, but still hampered by persistent bottlenecks in supply chains.

The resurgence of coronavirus infections, as the Omicron variant spreads across the country, has continued to drag on growth in Germany, which is expected to struggle in the first quarter of 2022. This week, the German government cut its forecast for growth this year to 3.6 percent, from a 4.1 percent forecast made in late October.

Despite the slowdown in Germany, analysts still expect the eurozone economy to continue its recovery in the first quarter of 2022, driven by the strong French economy and growth in Spain that also exceeded expectations, expanding 2 percent in the fourth quarter. The European Union will release data for the economy of the 19-country eurozone on Monday.

“We expect a stronger pickup in growth later this year as supply bottlenecks ease and consumer demand picks up but downside risks from high energy prices and lingering supply disruptions remain present,” said Katharina Koenz, an economist with Oxford Economics.

Even as they face the threat of a recession — commonly defined as two consecutive quarters of shrinking production — German businesses seem confident that as the year progresses, growth will pick up again, two different surveys showed. Manufacturers are hopeful that bottlenecks will ease and restaurants and hotels are gearing up for consumers eager to get out once milder temperatures usher in a reprieve from the virus in the spring and summer tourism season.

The Ifo Institute’s most recent survey of German business managers, considered a reliable predictor of the direction of the economy in Germany, showed sentiment improving by nearly a full point for the first time in seven months. At the same time, a survey by IHS Markit, a research firm, that tracks the manufacturing and service sectors, rose to a four-month high.

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