Hollande taps bank economist to steer economic policy
PARIS (Reuters) - Francois Hollande has chosen a senior economist at a U.S. bank as his new top economic advisor, an official in the French president's office said on Tuesday, as France tries to sustain a sputtering economic recovery.
Emmanuel Macron is stepping down as Hollande's advisor and will be replaced by Bank of America Merrill Lynch's chief European economist, Laurence Boone, the official said.
Boone holds a doctorate from the London Business School and sits on the board of French luxury goods group Kering.
Before joining Merrill Lynch in London, she was an economist at Barclays in Paris and before that worked at the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Boone was not immediately available for comment, but in an earlier interview with Reuters, she said Hollande had little choice but to push ahead with his current policies.
"Early elections would make his parliament majority collapse, switching to a policy completely focused on demand is not possible now in Europe, deeper reforms would not fit with the government’s strategy to keep the left of the party on board," Boone told Reuters on May 27. "This leaves the option of continuing like before, by default."
In the same interview, she cast doubt on whether the government will meet its forecast for 1.0 percent growth this year and on how likely it may be to cut the public deficit in line with the EU target of three percent of GDP next year.
As deputy chief of staff, Macron oversaw economic policy as Hollande struggled to revive the euro zone's second-biggest economy. A former Rothschild partner, he was the business community's ear at the Elysee presidential palace, otherwise stuffed with career technocrats with little experience in the private sector.
He was also one of the main architects of Hollande's shift towards more market-friendly policies at the start of the year, with plans to phase out 30 billion euros ($41 billion) in company payroll taxes over three years.
Hollande's popularity has collapsed as he failed to live up to promises he would turn around a stagnant economy and cut back on unemployment.
Macron's departure was one of several announced on Tuesday. Hollande had already seen his chief communications adviser and speech writer, Aquilino Morelle, stand down in April on accusations of past conflict of interest linked to his work with a pharmaceutical firm. Morelle denies any wrongdoing.
His ejection came just two days after Hollande tapped a former class-mate at the elite ENA civil service college, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, to be his head of staff, replacing Pierre-Rene Lemas.
(This story has been refiled to fix garbled words in last paragraph)