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French savers test waters for riskier investments

·1-min read
A woman withdraws money from an ATM machine in Nice

PARIS (Reuters) - French savers have begun to shift some of the piles of cash they built up under COVID-19 restrictions towards more risky investments as the crisis eases, the central bank said on Tuesday.

As in many countries during the COVID-19 crisis, French households put aside far more cash than normally as lockdowns and other restrictions prevented them from spending on restaurants, trips and recreation.

The Bank of France said that by the middle of this year the excess savings had reached 157 billion euros ($186 billion), equivalent to more than 7% of gross domestic product.

While most of the savings have flowed into liquid cash and savings accounts, this year households are increasingly opting for medium-term investment products offering higher yields and higher risk exposure, the central bank said.

Such products are seeing record inflows with nearly 5 billion euros in July alone and 22 billion so far this year, the French Insurance Federation said on Tuesday.

"At first the forced savings was left in deposits, but now households are saying 'what am I going to do with these savings'," Bank of France chief economist Olivier Garnier told an online news conference.

While the central bank expects the savings build-up to continue through to the end of the year, households would start drawing it down in 2022 and 2023, Garnier said.

The first signs are already emerging in the form of booming household investment into new homes and renovations, Garnier added.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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