Monday, October 23, 2006

Perspectives

Buying into the dream in a changing Paris is becoming more and more expensive, year after year.

As many young Americans in the 1950s and 1960s, Amerloque was attracted to Paris in part by stories and legends of the 1920s Lost Generation luminaries such as Ernest Hemingway and Sylvia Beach. Given the economic conditions in the 1960s, it turned out that maintaining a purely hedonistic Sylvia FitzHemingway fantasy literary-artsy existence was not in the cards, since the currency exchange rates were far from being as favorable to the dollar as they were in the 1920s, when France was recovering from the gigantic economic dislocations caused by World War I. Even living in a garret chambre de bonne, Amerloque found it necessary all the same to take on authentic jobs with genuine paychecks. During such encounters with real life, he relegated some of his more artistic pursuits to evenings and weekends, returning to them when his bank account showed sufficient dimension.

In addition, back then no matter what the economic circumstances, Parisian life for the American expatriate presented a wide and continual range of novel social and economic activities, to be investigated, experienced, questioned – and sometimes adopted. Amerloque embraced Paris with a passion. Time passed … and one day he woke up and realized that his "stay" in Paris had become permanent. It was then that he knew that he was of Paris, as well as being in Paris. He had become a parisien, and has been happy here.

Year after year, Amerloque has watched waves of Americans come to Paris: students, teachers, researchers, artists, writers, singers, athletes, senior and junior executives ... What he has also observed are the skyrocketing prices of Paris real estate. Gone are the times when one could purchase and furnish a rudimentary pied-à-terre in the Latin Quarter or in Montmartre for a mere pittance. Nowadays, the market is hot, hot, hot. Many foreigners have purchased - or plan to purchase - in Paris, where real estate values were until relatively recently considered "undervalued" compared to major cities such as New York, San Francisco, London, and Rome.

Is there a real estate bubble here ? "To a certain extent, yes," is Amerloque's view. How much of a bubble is there, anyway ? An attentive reading of recent newspapers can furnish a response.


Paris proper is actually very small: its area of 105 square kilometers (about 40 square miles) contains a population of 2,163,535. It is divided into 20 arrondissements, i.e., administrative districts. The most expensive one used to be the 16th, a bastion of the bourgeoisie, with large apartments, small houses, gardens, and small shops. It is a residential area and borders the Bois de Boulogne. The Latin Quarter is in the 5th; "American Paris", with its ties to the Lost Generation, can be considered to be in the 6th and 7th; the Montparnasse area is in the 14th. The Marais is in the 4th, while the Montmartre district is in the 18th. Up and coming districts are the 11th, 19th and 20th, and, to a lesser extent, the 17th.

The Chambre des Notaires is the professional organization for the solicitors who by law take care of real estate transactions: titles, deeds, escrow, tax collection. At intervals they issue detailed information concerning prices paid for apartments and other properties. Recently the newspapers here heralded the fact that in two Paris districts the average price for a flat now exceeds 8,000 euros per square meter (say 10.7 square feet).

In the list below, the first figure is the arrondissement and the second figure is the average price in euros per square meter; the figure in parentheses is the increase since 1996.

1st 6,879 (+243%); 2nd 5,910 (+241%); 3rd 6,324 (+242%); 4th 7,569 (+236%); 5th 7,294 (+219%); 6th 8,099 (+219%); 7th 8,162 (226%); 8th 6,665 (+209%); 9th 5,549 (+247%); 10th 4,943 (+274%); 11th 5,153 (+244%); 12th 5,266 (+227%); 13th 5,271 (+217%); 14th 5,663 (+212%); 15th 5,857 (+220%); 16th 6,240 (+201%); 17th 5,366 (+222%); 18th 4,760 (+237%); 19th 4,456 (+245%); 20th 4,675 (+237%)

For those hoping to throw it all over in Podunk and set up shop in Paris to live their dreams, prudence might be the word of the day, in Amerloque's view. A quick look at one of the larger French real estate sites shows that a 28 square meter two-roomer in the Latin Quarter can be had for 175,000 euros, plus the 8% or so mandatory "taxes" on top of the purchase price. That's a sixth floor walkup, no elevator, and needs work. A third floor walkup studio in a 17th century building up the street from the first is going for 190,000 euros plus. That's quite a bit of money for places with no views and no lifts, that need renovations – perhaps substantial ones, at that. Due diligence is a must, and, as always, caveat emptor is the watchword.

Will the bubble burst and will property values come crashing down, as they did in the last French real estate bust in the early 1990s ? . "Perhaps, but probably not," is Amerloque's response. There is only one, unique Paris in the whole wide world, after all, so prices won't plunge to abyssal depths any time soon, in Amerloque's view. Ce qui est rare, est cher, as the French have it.

Of course, one can purchase a place in Paris, live in it a few months of the year, and rent it out furnished the remainder of the time. Many foreign real estate purveyors, Americans among them, have developed attractive sales and financing pitches built around this theme: one has only to look at a freebie publication such as Fusac to see numerous ads for rentals, all though the year, and especially during the summer, touristy months. Property financing in France has changed during the past decade, too. Mortgages used to be underwritten by banks for eight or ten years, tops. Nowadays, fifteen- or twenty-year loans are more and more common; the system has become more "American", although French banks are still far more conservative than their American counterparts. Currency exchange risks should be factored into any purchases, too: is one paying off a Paris mortgage in US dollars, for example ? Amerloque has heard both good and bad stories about buying and renting out, but as the old British saying has it, "location, location, location" appears to be the byword !

While there may only be one Paris, it is changing quite rapidly and, in Amerloque's view, not necessarily for the better. These changes might affect property values in the medium and long term. At intervals the French press reports the significant shifts in population: people are moving out of Paris and the Paris region (the Ile de France). The two major groups reported as leaving are retired individuals and families with children. This augurs ill for the Parisian economy overall since the former usually are in higher tax brackets and the latter are what makes cities vibrant, living, evolving entities. In addition, Paris is losing many of its distinctive small shops and restaurants: there seem to be fewer every year. There are more traffic jams, and there is more casual crime in some parts of town. Paris is being emptied of its working and middle classes – it is becoming a paradise for BoBos ... and tourists, of course ! Amerloque shudders to think that it might become another Venice !

If one has the money to purchase a place in Paris – or has already purchased ! – one should definitely pay close attention to what is happening in municipal government, which is responsible in part for setting local taxation rates. For the past several years, the city has been run by the Socialists and their ecoayatollah green allies, les verts. The clearest indication of the latter's presence, by the way, is the incessant war on the automobile. One has only to observe the massive traffic jams resulting from the roadworks - both for the tramway on the southern edge of the city and the huge, overwide buslanes on many central boulevards - to realize that the green political agenda is killing Paris and the Parisian quality of life. When delivery vans can't even make deliveries within a reasonable amount of time, a businessman or businesswoman can hardly see any benefit in setting up shop in Paris for a dwindling population – or a population composed of the bobos and the poor living off of city and state government entitlements !

The City of Paris, well before the tenure of the previous Mayors, M Jacques Chirac and M Jean Tiberi (whatever the alleged or real frauds committed during their administrations), owned and maintained many apartments in town, as well as quite a bit of real estate throughout France – tracts of land, forests, buildings and other properties left to the City in wills and testaments down through the decades after the establishment of the Third Republic in 1870. Since taking office in March, 2001, the Socialist administration has been selling off what some call "the inheritance of all Parisians": the real estate. At intervals the press reports on suchandsuch apartments being sold, soandso lands in the countryside being auctioned off … and it is sad indeed to see that such irremediable harm is being done to Paris and its heritage, with few voices raised in protest.


At equally regular intervals, too, rumors published in the press insist that the city finances are in catastrophic shape, compared to the healthy finances that the current administration found upon taking office in 2001. Amerloque was reminded of this when he was informed that over the weekend (on October 20th and 21st, actually) the Socialist administration is auctioning off many of the fine wines in the City cellars, vintage bottles that were patiently collected over the years (some bottles of which are even pre-Chirac). The Socialists would have the people believe that – ready for this ? – the wines in the cellar were in danger because "a sudden flood of the Seine river could destroy the wines forever". (une crue soudaine de la Seine pourrait détruire à jamais ces trésors). The Socialists and their ecoayatollah allies would also have the naive and gullible taxpayers believe that officials and underlings used to knock back vintage bottles every lunch- and dinnertime and that middle rank factotums were swigging Margaux and Romanée-Conti while feasting together in the basements of the city hall.

Hardly. The wines were served at diplomatic get-togethers, where important guests were invited to official City Hall luncheons and dinners. The entire world knows that French culture puts heavy emphasis on fashion, food and drink: what could be more natural than to serve the finest French vintages to distinguished foreign guests ? Until 2001, the City Hall practiced what it preached: that Paris was a special place in the world, one that represented fashion and cuisine, one that could – and did - offer the best of French wines to its guests. A visit to Paris was a memorable journey; the standing of Paris – and France – was enhanced. Now, of course, under the Socialists Paris is slipping rapidly downmarket: it is becoming quelconque, as the French expression goes, and France is the poorer for it.

According to the well informed daily Le Parisien, the two-day auction of a portion of the City Hall wines (4960 bottles in all) brought in almost one million euros before buyers' commissions, thus demonstrating that the individuals choosing the wines over the years made very, very shrewd investments indeed: they obviously knew what they were doing ! The most expensive bottles were a 1986 Romanée-Conti at 5,000 euros, a 1989 Château-Pétrus at 4,900 euros, a 1990 Château-Pétrus at 3,900 euros, a 1982 Château Haut-Brion at 3, 000 euros, and a 1988 Château-Pétrus at 2,500 euros. Foreigners – Japanese, Chinese, British, Americans – turned out in droves and kept the prices high, to the chagrin of French men and women who had hoped to take home a bottle or two. One of the major bidders – and purchasers – interviewed in the press was one Mr Stephen Williams, a wine merchant and founder of the London-based Antique Wine Company, who in many cases paid the top prices. He pointed out that the price of a great wine is composed of its quality, its year and … its history. He went on to state that "these bottles, marked Mairie de Paris, were stored in the City Hall in the capital city of the country of wine … it'll be a plus for my customers".

It certainly will, Amerloque feels. Mr Williams is to be congratulated (ah, sacrés anglais !). The monies raised from the sale will go to fund the Paris City Hall's demagogic entitlement policies, to the bitter disappointment and disillusionment of those, such as Amerloque, who have a far different idea of Paris, and of what it represents in the world.



L'Amerloque



Disclaimer: Amerloque is not involved in real estate in any way whatsoever, nor is he involved in the wine trade. This post should not be considered as an encouragement or recommendation to purchase or to sell real estate (or wine !) in Paris or anywhere else. Readers are advised to seek independent and competent professional advice before acting on anything concerning real estate or wine contained herein. Caveat emptor.



Text © Copyright 2006 by L'Amerloque
Images © Copyrights reserved to copyright holders

17 Comments:

Blogger LASunsett said...

Hi Amerloque,

I really enjoyed reading this piece.

As I read it, I was thinking about how I recently returned to Atlanta, after not being there for over twenty years. Property there has skyrocketed, but still is not anywhere near LA (or anywhere else along the west coast).

In fact, I had a trip to Oregon last year and was surprised how much a reasonably decent house (nothing fancy) costs in Grants Pass. Many from California are flocking to that area, to get away from California.

In LA and SF, housing is so expensive that many condos/apartments/starter homes are shared by two couples. Usually there are two bedrooms with two baths, so each couple has their own privacy and they share the common area.

Although wages are higher, the relative cost of living is still higher. The higher wage scale does not come close to covering the extra expenses of living there.

I suspect that Paris is just like anywhere else that experiences a boom in real estate. Demand is the driving force. The more people that want to live and work there, the more it will cost to do so.

Back to Atlanta. Atlanta had a boom on the late 70s and early 80s. It tapered off some for the latter part of the 80s. But as the 96 Olympics neared, it boomed again.

Twenty years ago Atlanta was just the capital of Georgia and its largest city. Today, it is a world-class city and is a genuine destination for many. The city itself is not so large, but the metro area has grown quite a bit. And, it definitely has an international flavor to it.

It's great that you found a place to call home and that you are happy there. So many people live in a place because they have to, you live there because you want to. That being the case, it would not matter what jobs you did to live there. You have been successful, by virtue of the very fact that you enjoy being a Parisian.

Again, thanks for posting this. It was very informative and most importantly, a joy to read.

8:57 PM  
Blogger LASunsett said...

One other thing.

In the last post you mentioned hypermarkets replacing small shops. I guess to that I would say, welcome to the age of Wal-Mart. It may not be Wal-Mart on the sign, but the influence of Wally World (as we sometimes affectionately call it) is beginning to make it's way to Europe.

As Paris gets faster, the concept of a one-stop shopper will get more and more popular. Time is something you can never get back and as the younger generation gets more impetuous and impatient, it will become more and more common to see new hypermarkets like it.

It may never reach the level it has here, but for there, it will become more acceptable to French society.

Twenty something years ago I worked for a wholesale company owned by a very well-known family. You may not know their name if I mentioned it, but if I told you what they owned, you'd definitely know that.

Their wholesale company sold general merchandise to mom and pop stores throughout two states. I was a salesman in one of the last old-school companies that actually sent out a sales force, instead of relying on customers to place orders from a catalog. (We had a catalog, but there were thousands and thousand of items.)

You name it, they had it. Groceries, hardware, sporting goods, dry goods, anything that could go into a general store. As the Wal-Marts and other large chain stores moved in, the mom and pop stores died out.

Today, the wholesale company is gone. But that company still exists on paper and it's the parent company of many others that are well known throughout the world. As the market changed, so did it.

9:26 PM  
Blogger vilay said...

Bonjour Amerloque.
Tres interessant article sur Paris, vraiment. Paris devenant Venise? Et fluctuat nec mergitur alors?:-) Non plus serieusement il est vrai que Paris perd de sa vrai population, j'entends par la le peuple de Paris remplace peu a peu par des bureaux ou des musees. c'est d'ailleur la crainte actuelle de voir la capitale se transformer en une ville-musee pour touristes alors qu'elle possede tant d'autres charmes. Je me souviens m'etre perdu dans un de ses marches tres populaire on se serait vraiment cru en province.
Tu parles egalement de la population s'installant en Ile-de-France mais n'es-ce pas la ce qu'a toujours ete le sort de Paris, a savoir depasser ses limites? L'Ile-de-France a soi-dit en passant un charme fou, des petits villages preserve a deux pas de Paris. J'ai recemment observe les champs plats a l'infini que j'aime au Sud de la capitale.
Je te recommande un livre en anglais que j'ai feuillete ici et qui s'intitule Seven Ages of Paris d'Alistair Horne.
Il m'a semble bon.
Vilay

6:05 PM  
Blogger L'Amerloque said...

Hello LASunsett !

Welcome back !

Amerloque is happy that LA liked the piece. It was fun to write. (grin)

Amerloque is indeed happy here in Paris, even with all the troubles profiling on the French horizon. One wonders just what the politicians are thinking: the problems are not going to disappear as if by magic. (sigh)

Amerloque has been watching the real estate market in the USA and he, too, is surprised by some of the prices being asked …

Interestingly enough, one is seeing the reappearance of some mom-and-pop stores in the Parisian suburbs: ususally owned and operated by immigrant families, in different ethnic neighborhoods. People familiar with the history of New York City will immediately see the parallel. (grin) (Amerloque refers to NY simply because the Los Angeles environment is unique: a car is required, whereas in Paris and NY that is not necessarily the case (grin).

Best,
L'Amerloque

8:32 AM  
Blogger L'Amerloque said...

Hi Vilay !

Et fluctuat nec mergitur alors?:-)

Perhaps, er, Sainte-Genevieve will come to the rescue ! (grin)

// …/… Le bruit de sa marche répandit bientôt l'alarme dans Paris ; les habitants, qui ne se crurent pas en sûreté dans leur ville, résolurent de l'abandonner. Geneviève, exaltée par le danger de sa patrie, remplie de confiance en Dieu, annonça que l'ennemi s'éloignerait, si les Parisiens avaient recours aux jeûnes, aux prières et aux veilles. Les Huns changèrent en effet l'ordre de leur marche, Paris fut sauvé, et de là commença pour Geneviève une vénération qui ne fit que s'accroître de jour en jour. …/…//

…/… en une ville-musee pour touristes alors qu'elle possede tant d'autres charmes. …/…

Exactly what is happening nowadays, in Amerloque's view.

L'Ile-de-France a soi-dit en passant un charme fou, des petits villages preserve a deux pas de Paris. J'ai recemment observe les champs plats a l'infini que j'aime au Sud de la capitale.

Hélas, l'urbanisation galopante prend le dessus, un peu partout … des maisons "ticky tacky" fleurissent … mais, au sud de Paris, l'histoire du "troisième aeroport de Paris" semble enterrée … (grin) …

Je te recommande un livre en anglais que j'ai feuillete ici et qui s'intitule Seven Ages of Paris d'Alistair Horne. Il m'a semble bon.

Oui, c'est un bon livre. Alistair Horne is a journalist and historian who has written quite a bit about France. (grin)

Stop by anytime !

Best,
L'Amerloque

8:48 AM  
Blogger Jacmetolosa said...

Adishatz,
And... when the TGV in 2010 will arrive in Toulous' [Tolosa de Lengadòc], it will change as well from Paris point of vue : see may blog : http://jacmetolosa.spaces.live.com
This TGV will arrive from Barcelona.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Bonapart said...

thank you for this piece, your perspective since the time you've been here is very interesting. I've got my own worries about Paris too Problems logement jeune – rent increase 120% since 98 -06 boom http://bonapartconsulting.typepad.com/bonapartconsultingparis/2006/11/jeudi_noir_pap.html
Artists evicted and French art scene dead on it’s feet http://ivyparis.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/11/rip_artsquat_ev.html

12:28 PM  
Blogger L'Amerloque said...

Hi bonapart !

Thanks for stopping by - the door is always open !

Amerloque has seen your recent post chez vous on the difficulties of finding lodgings in Paris.

You mentioned how hard it is to evict tenants ...

As a matter of interest, it took Mrs A quite a bit if time and effort to evict her non-paying tenants ... eight years. (!)

It is unsuprising that owners don't want to rent. Needless to say, Mrs A doesn't rent any longer.

BEst,
L'Amerloque

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

Hi Amerloque,
You're right when you point out the increasing difficulty of finding a housing in Paris. But I wouldn't conclude by saying that Paris is becoming like Venice. Don't forget that Paris region represents at least 11 million people, and that its population is increasing at the rate of 0,6% each year since 1999, whereas the rate was 0,3% in the previous decades. Moreover, it's true that pensioners and families are leaving the Ile-de-France region, but I dont think it's an evidence of a loss of dynamism. Pensioners go to the sunny south to relax, that's what they are doing as well in the US, leaving NYC and heading to Florida, and in the UK, leaving London to Spain and France. I dont think it's enough to say that NY and London are becoming like Venice. Moreover, they are replaced by students, young people and executives between 20 and 40, exactly like in... yes, NY and London. French demographics is rather good compared to Japan and other European countries, so I think this phenomenon of young people going to Paris to study, find a job, get married and leave to the "province" with their families, is not going to stop in the near future.
Regarding the rents, accomadations are built or will be built in the inner suburb and in Paris intra-muros as well (Paris Rive Gauche, La Chapelle, Batignolles, etc). Saint-Louis island has never been an exciting place to live anyway, and new neighborhoods, formerly completely neglected or even unsafe, are coming up on the stage: the 13, the 19, and the 20: it's good news for me.

2:17 AM  
Blogger L'Amerloque said...

Hi Thomas !

Welcome aboard ! (smile)

/*/Don't forget that Paris region represents at least 11 million people, and that its population is increasing at the rate of 0,6% each year since 1999, whereas the rate was 0,3% in the previous decades. Moreover, it's true that pensioners and families are leaving the Ile-de-France region, but I dont think it's an evidence of a loss of dynamism. /*/

Amerloque is really perplexed as to where Thomas has found his stats, since the papers and magazines have been full of the declining populations (not increasing !) of Paris and the Ile-de-France region for some years, now. They have become more shrill about the issue since the unpleasantness last year.

It's all about what is called the "solde migratoire".

//La perspective de Vivre en Île de France en 2025 ( Rapport de Louis Guieyssee du
Cesr d’Ile-de-France, TRP, Éditions Futuribles, n° 10, mars 2000) ne se résume pas à
un long fleuve tranquille. Des conditions dégradées expliquent le solde migratoire
négatif avec la province. La perte, en solde net, qui était de l’ordre de 40 000
personnes par an, dans les années 1980, est passée à 70 000 dans les années 1990. On
découvre ainsi dans le même rapport que “ les départs sont pour 60 % le fait de jeunes
ménages de moins de 40 ans qui partent principalement pour disposer d’une meilleure qualité
de vie et d’un logement plus grand à un prix abordable, leur permettant d’avoir des enfants ”.

En regardant de plus près les évolutions récentes, on apprend aussi que le déficit
migratoire intérieur de l'Île-de-France s'est accru parce que les jeunes adultes de
moins de 30 ans sont de moins en moins nombreux à quitter leur province pour
s'installer en Région parisienne. Tous les départements de l'Ile de France, à
l'exception de la Seine et Marne en raison de son caractère rural, enregistrent un
solde migratoire intérieur négatif avec la province : les rurbains fuient le cœur des
cités et s'installent dans ce que la Datar appelle joliment les campagnes des villes .
//

The above was from Liberation, for example, which cribbed from a CNAM report based on INSEE data.
http://tinyurl.com/ydpqvg

Where did Thomas find his stats, please ?

/*/Pensioners go to the sunny south to relax, that's what they are doing as well in the US, leaving NYC and heading to Florida, and in the UK, leaving London to Spain and France. I dont think it's enough to say that NY and London are becoming like Venice. /*/

Some parts of each city are, certainly. Living a middle class existence in Manhattan or in many parts of central London is more and more difficult financially. Just like Paris. (smile) Becoming like Venice is down the road … and a serious possibility, alas …

/*/Moreover, they are replaced by students, young people and executives between 20 and 40, exactly like in... yes, NY and London./*/

Seen the tax base of NY and London lately ? (smile) "Students" and "young people" don't pay much tax: pensioners and families do. Companies are moving out: more taxes lost. Many French companies are now setting up in a "provincial" town and only opening an établissement in Paris, so as not to pay Paris taxes … that's why there have been efforts to "mutualize" taxes by putting them on a regional basis.

If Amerloque didn't own a place already, he'd take a really hard look at purchasing any real estate in Paris or its immediate suburbs, if it were necessary to take out a loan …

/*/French demographics is rather good compared to Japan and other European countries, so I think this phenomenon of young people going to Paris to study, find a job, get married and leave to the "province" with their families, is not going to stop in the near future./*/

It has already stopped, according to the study quoted above. Countrywide demographics are better than in most Western European countries, yes. It remains to be determined if the spike is permanent. One hopes so ! (smile)

/*/Regarding the rents, accomadations are built or will be built in the inner suburb and in Paris intra-muros as well (Paris Rive Gauche, La Chapelle, Batignolles, etc). Saint-Louis island has never been an exciting place to live anyway, and new neighborhoods, formerly completely neglected or even unsafe, are coming up on the stage: the 13, the 19, and the 20: it's good news for me./*/

Amerloque is glad to hear that Thomas is happy. (smile)

If one reads the police stats, crime has apparently skyrocketed in the 19th and 20th. Batignolles might be on its way to being future high crime: with the construction of 3500 low cost / low rent apartments scheduled (!) one is pessimistic, indeed, given past stats about such neighborhoods … (sigh) … one hopes in this case that past performance is not indicative of guaranteed future failure, to pastiche the investment strategists … (smile)

Best,
L'Amerloque

8:44 AM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

Thanks for your answer Amerloque.
Here is the link for the rate in the 90s: http://www.insee.fr/fr/ffc/chifcle_fiche.asp?ref_id=NATTEF01203&tab_id=
And then this link for the evolution between 1999 and 2004:www.insee.fr/fr/insee_regions/idf/rfc/docs/Numero112.pdf
The INSEE is a very reliable source of statistics, you can really trust these data. As you can see, the Paris region growth is due to its high fecondity rate (probably thanks to its higher immigrant population) which largely compensate the pensioners and the families that are leaving. Furthermore, I still think that young workers and executives contribute more to the economic dynamism of a city than pensioners...
And for the economic competitiveness of Paris, try this link:www.paris-region.com/upload/document/D254.pdf
This document comes from an agency whose mission is to promote the region, so I admit that this source is less "neutral" than the previous ones, but the facts and figures mentionned look rather objective.
And finally, considering the criminality: unfortunately, it's a general phenomenon in France. It doesn't prevent families, young executives and artists to settle down in the 19 and 20, which were 10 years ago almost a non-go area in some parts (just think about Stalingrad, formerly the drug traffic hub of Paris, and now a rather trendy place with the new movie theaters, even if it can still be a bit tough on the edges...)
Best regards,
Thomas
PS You will understand that I am naturally an optimistic person, which is not a very French particularity, I confess

10:07 AM  
Blogger L'Amerloque said...

Hello Thomas !

/*/The INSEE is a very reliable source of statistics, you can really trust these data/*/

Amerloque extends his thanks to Thomas ! Amerloque thought that Thomas (or someone else … ) was going to cite the INSEE and the INSEE population statistics.

The INSEE has been contested more and more loudly for a number of years, now. That is why Amerloque specifically mentioned the "solde migratoire" !!!

As to the population "figures" from INSEE … Since the results of the 1999 census – wherein hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people didn't fill in the census forms and/or were not counted (this was widely reported at the time …) - the INSEE has changed the counting method.

A portion of its figures is based on estimates, not reality. That's why the whole issue of population movements in Paris and the IDF has been a bone of contention. From the INSEE site:

/*/ …/…

Depuis janvier 2004, le recensement de la population résidant en France est réalisé par enquête annuelle. Chaque commune de moins de 10 000 habitants est recensée tous les cinq ans, à raison d'un cinquième de ces communes chaque année. Dans les communes de 10 000 habitants ou plus une enquête est réalisée chaque année auprès d'un échantillon de 8 % des logements.

En 2008, l'ensemble des habitants des communes de moins de 10 000 habitants et 40 % de la population des communes de 10 000 habitants ou plus, auront donc été pris en compte dans le cadre du nouveau recensement.

À la fin de l'année 2008, à l'issue des cinq premières enquêtes de recensement, l'Insee publiera pour la première fois la population légale de chaque commune, ainsi que les résultats statistiques complets sur les habitants et leurs logements. À partir de 2009, ces résultats seront mis à jour tous les ans. …/… /*/ http://tinyurl.com/ey3cv

This new method was the subject of quite a bit of criticism in the press and among professionals (and still is), since the new measurements were not the same as the ones used in the past: the totals now given are estimates, and not reality. There is a big difference.

Only a part of the population is counted each time: the statisticians then do their magic with numbers to produce a "population figure". Whether or not the figure is provable doesn't seem to matter at all. By the time the figures are put together in 2008 or whenever, the older data might even be obsolete.

The reason for the INSEE changes, besides the fact that citizens don't want to answer questions ? (smile) Well, it is said by many that one major reason is that the central government subsidy to local and regional bodies (what is called the DGF, if Thomas follows such things: as a taxpayer, Amerloque does …) depends on the population. The more people a place has, the more money it receives: so the politicians want their localities to be counted – or estimated – at a high number, to receive more money. QED.

The goalposts have been changed. INSEE has taken a lot of flak on this, and that's why Amerloque did not use the most recent INSEE data. It is not absolutely trustworthy, in his view.

When Amerloque said:

//Amerloque is really perplexed as to where Thomas has found his stats, since the papers and magazines have been full of the declining populations (not increasing !) of Paris and the Ile-de-France region for some years, now. They have become more shrill about the issue since the unpleasantness last year.//

this is what he meant. It is generally accepted that the most reliable population figures to be used are the "solde migratoire" figures, which combine INSEE census data … and voting rolls, tax records, school attendances, car registrations and other parameters, apparently.

The other websites Thomas mentions could be … er, um … a bit biased, since they are attempting to attract investment to specific venues, as Thomas says … (grin)
.
/*/Furthermore, I still think that young workers and executives contribute more to the economic dynamism of a city than pensioners.../*/

It depends where they pay their taxes and/or where they are fiscally dominciled, doesn't it ? (grin)

/*/It doesn't prevent families, young executives and artists to settle down in the 19 and 20,/*/

When people are attacked, and apartments burgled, then people move out afterwards, not before (grin). Amerloque knows many people – executives and families - who have moved away for those specific reasons. Another reason, of course, is the schools. (sigh)

/*/You will understand that I am naturally an optimistic person, …/*/

Nothing wrong with that ! It's a perogative of youth !

What's that old saying ? "Old age and experience will always outdo youth and inexperience", or something like that ?!

Sometimes it's right, sometimes it's wrong. (wide smile)

Thomas is welcome any time !

Best,
L'Amerloque

3:11 AM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

Hi again!
I didn't know this story about the INSEE methods, thanks for your explanation. Anyway, the "solde migratoire" you're using is just one part of the story. To this figure, you have to add the natural growth rate, and the total gives you the actual population growth rate. Only this last figure matters to know if the population is increasing. And about your fiscality concerns, I can assure you that a young executive without kids, and single, pays much much more taxes than a family or an old couple, trust me, I am one of those young executives! So the fiscal basis of Paris is actually increasing, and the social profile of the population as well: middle and low incomes are moving out to the suburbs or the province.
As for safety in the east of Paris... I have two friends who moved to the 20 and the 19, for the moment they are very happy with the neiborhood. And a few years ago i dont think my female friend whould have considered living in the 19 alone. But I may be wrong of course.

2:19 PM  
Blogger L'Amerloque said...

Hi Thomas !

/*/To this figure, you have to add the natural growth rate, and the total gives you the actual population growth rate. Only this last figure matters to know if the population is increasing./*/

Why must there necessarily be a "natural growth rate" ? Money invested and spent, for example, or company startups, or apartment prices, can be (and are, frequently) divorced from any population movements. There may, or may not be a link. The solde migratoire is a population number only.

There can be a "natural shrinkage rate", such as took place, for example, in the massif central.

/*/ … I can assure you that a young executive without kids, and single, pays much much more taxes than a family or an old couple, trust me, I am one of those young executives!./*/

(smile) Yes, Amerloque had gathered as much ! (wider smile)

/*/ …/… the social profile of the population as well: middle and low incomes are moving out to the suburbs or the province…/…

(smile) Yes. The boboisation of Paris is here … which is what Amerloque is concerned about … and which is why Paris might go the way of Venice. When only bobos live in Paris, and when only tourists come to Paris and spend their money … (sigh)… (smile)

Best,
L'Amerloque

12:19 AM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

Hi again (and again!)
I am not sure I have understood tour last comment. The "solde migratoire" tells you about the number of new "immigrants" into the Paris region (from abroad or the "province"), minus the Parisians leaving the region, and the "natural growth rate" tells you about the number of new "Parisians" born in the region, minus the Parisians dead in the region. That's why it's called "natural". You add the two, and you get the number of the new Parisians the region gets every year. In the case of Paris, the region gets 0,6% (or less, depending on the INSEE reliability) more people every year, even if more people leave the Paris region than people who arrive in the Paris region. That's all...
Now concerning the boboisation of Paris, you're absolutely right: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/b7131c04-6a73-11db-83d9-0000779e2340.html.
Do you think it is similar with what is happening in Venice??? I dont think so, because in Paris the poor are leaving to the suburbs, and the rich are staying and spreading all over the city, like in Manhattan which is being gentrified (even in Harlem) as opposed to the Bronx. In Venice, everybody is leaving the city, rich and bourgeois included. And the population is generally shrinking, in a city which is rather small, not appropriate anymore for business, industries and modern transportation. The comparison is bit far fetched in my opinion.
Now, it doesn't mean that Paris region doesn't have its social problems due to an increasing social segregation between the rich, pretty central and west neighborhoods, and the poor north and south-east neighborhood. But I believe it's a different issue from the Venice one: in the latter case, the city is disappearing as a real city.

7:45 AM  
Blogger L'Amerloque said...

Hi Thomas !

(Amerloque apologizes fot the tardy response: he was on the road.)

/*/I am not sure I have understood tour last comment .../. … tells you about the number of new "Parisians" born in the region, minus the Parisians dead in the region. That's why it's called "natural". You add the two, and you get the number of the new Parisians the region gets every year. In the case of Paris, the region gets 0,6% (or less, depending on the INSEE reliability) more people every year, even if more people leave the Paris region than people who arrive in the Paris region. That's all.../*/

(grin) If only it were that simple. (re-grin).

The thousands of babies, illegal aliens, short-term "students", and minors aren't paying taxes, nor are they founding companies or creating jobs, which is where the problem lies. As far as Amerloque is aware, there have been fudged statistics for both births and deaths in the Paris region, starting with the INSEE "census" results.

/*/Do you think it is similar with what is happening in Venice??? I dont think so,…./*/

What you describe is exactly what happened in Venice.

The two cities are simply not at the same point on their similar depopulation / boboisation curves, that's all. (smile) Venice is quite a bit further along.

/*/ …/… a city which is rather small, not appropriate anymore for business, industries and modern /*/

Hey, sounds like Paris ! Businesses are apparently moving out like there is no tomorrow. It. is. cat-as-troph-ic.

/*/The comparison is bit far fetched in my opinion./*/

With all due respect, you obviously live in a different world than Amerloque. (smile) He's used to it, though.

Perhaps it's also a question of optimism/pessimism, the half-full and half-empty glass, eh ? (wider smile)

Best,
L'Amerloque

11:39 AM  
Blogger Tomate Farcie said...

Hello there Amerloque! I just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post, too. In fact, this is my second lecture.

You have expressed factually what I intuitively understood was happening to my old hometown but couldn't quite put the finger on.

I left Paris about 25 y ago, as a very young adult, to pursue my American dream and I don't keep up as well as I should, I suppose, with everything that is going on over there.

I didn't come back to Paris for a number of years, at first, but my visits have become more frequent over the past 10 years, although always very short.

Still, even during these short visits, I have noticed many changes. Some are very impressive (the way they cleaned up the Grand Palais, repainted the monuments Place de la Concorde, the Pont Alexandre III and many others historical buildings and bridges, for instance; let's see, the development of La Defense - it was mostly a mud field around some concrete and a couple of towers when I worked there years ago - anyway Kudos for the clean-up and development).

But some of the other changes I noticed left me pretty sad. The older neighborhoods I knew seem to have completely lost their soul while Paris is undergoing some kind of gentrification process (like everywhere else around the world, I suppose?).

And where are the benches on which the old folks used to sit a while? Most of them are gone. Where do they sit anymore? Or a better question might be, where are the old folks?

The ultra-wide bus lanes are fine if you're taking the bus, but where is everybody supposed to park when they drive? It was already hard to get around in a car and find parking before, but now it's a real challenge.

And I'm not even talking about the banlieues... if memory serves these were mostly populated with proletarian families before but now they have completely turned into ghettos?!!

Anyway, I didn't mean to get into a monologue here, really just wanted to say hello and tell you how much I enjoyed this particular post.

Thanks for your recent visit to my blog, by the way, and to answer a comment you left on a previous blog entry, here, the answer is no, I'm not starting an anonymous blog (yet). :)

12:20 AM  

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