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Le Pen eyes stable post-euro franc

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has made her wish to withdraw from the euro currency a central theme of her recent speeches. She told business leaders not to be afraid of returning to the franc.

The leader of the National Front (FN) in France, Marine Le Pen, has frequently called the single European currency a "knife that you stick in a country's ribs to force it to do what its people don't want to do."

She has pledged, that if elected as president, she will throw off "the shackles of the common currency" and restore France's monetary sovereignty.

With opinion polls showing her getting past the first round of the election on April 23, economists and some business leaders are getting increasingly worried.

Le Pen told an audience of executives on Tuesday that jettisoning the euro and bringing back the franc would not necessarily have to lead to devaluation.

"Bringing back national currencies would allow each country of the eurozone to re-establish the real value of their money," she said."Would that lead to a devaluation of the new franc? - Probably not," she added.

Evil currency?

Le Pen has made the euro responsible for driving up prices, hurting exports and adding to France's already colossal trade deficit.

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Many economic pundits, however, insist that scrapping the euro would be disastrous, and not just for France.

Ratings agencies have warned that the eurozone's second-largest economy could even be headed for a default, if they country converts its towering 2.2-trillion-euro ($2.4-trillion) debt into francs.

Benoit Coeure, who sits on the board of the European Central Bank, has warned that France's borrowing costs would rise rapidly and that prices would most likely soar, rather than fall.

"Inflation, which would be out of the hands of the ECB with the euro scrapped, would eat into savings, fixed incomes and pensions," he argued.

hg/jd (Reuters, AFP)

 

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