French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici has been quick to point out that his cabinet colleague, Labour Minister Michel Sapin, was speaking figuratively when he declared that “France is a totally bankrupt state!” The daily notes that “technically, France is far from default and thus nowhere near being bankrupt, even though many indicators are now flashing red.”

Le Figaro reminds its readers that France has not balanced a budget since 1973, and that the country’s debt, which is still increasing, will reach 91 per cent of GDP by the end of this year. Paris also had a record €74bn trade deficit in 2011, while Germany reported a surplus of €150bn. Hardly any improvement is expected in 2012.