Courtesy Reuters

France and the Economic Recovery of Europe

FRANCE is about to undergo a very difficult winter, the most difficult she has known since the Liberation. The frosts of last winter, which ruined half the sowings, and the fierce heat of last summer, which reduced the yield on the land sown in the spring, resulted in a wheat harvest less than one-third of that needed for normal consumption and the smallest produced in France since the days of Napoleon I. Only by the most determined efforts and with the assistance of imports from the United States will we be able to maintain a ration of 200 grams; and that will be composed of a mixture in which there will not be very much wheat. Similarly, the drought aggravated the milk problem by substantially reducing the yield of the dairy cows. At present, milk is reserved exclusively for children and old people. Here again the ration can be maintained only by supplementing natural milk with condensed or powdered milk from the United States. Finally, the meat problem is still serious. The abolition of meat control resulted in higher prices, and they are still mounting every day. Increased consumption of meat in the rural centers has resulted in lowered consumption in the large cities. Today, the workers cannot obtain a ration of meat even half as great as what they consumed in prewar times. That is why there has been a wave of strikes for the higher wages which promise to permit the purchase of meat in a rising market. The value of such wage increases is, of course, illusory. They serve only to increase the demand for food; the supply, unfortunately, remains stationary. The result is that any wage increase granted to the workers passes within a few days into the hands of the middlemen in the food trade, especially butchers and cattle dealers.

However, the seriousness of the French position in the coming winter derives not only from extraordinary factors such as frost and drought; it comes also from the

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