Socialist French President Francois Hollande would like you to know that, despite his country’s record-high unemployment and the two most recent quarters of negative GDP growth, their economy is doing just fine, thank you very much. Really, his attempts to fix France’s ailing economy and poor business climate — almost exclusively with tactics straight out of the big-government, Keynesian stimulus, socialist soak-the-rich playbook, I might add — are just about to turn things around, you’ll see:

French President Francois Hollande said Europe’s second-largest economy was recovering and tried to fight deepening pessimism in an interview on Sunday…

He urged the French to be more positive, highlighting a slight rebound in industrial output data, a bump in consumer spending and an improved forecast from France’s central bank for growth in the second quarter.

“We must not succumb to self-criticism,” Hollande told France 2 TV in a 30-minute live Bastille Day interview in the garden of the Elysee presidential palace.

“For years we have been the most pessimistic country in Europe, in the world even. There are countries at war that are more optimistic than we are.” …

“The recovery is here… The second half (of 2013) will be better than the first,” Hollande said.

Er… if you say so. Fitch, evidently, does not agree:

Fitch cut France‘s credit rating Friday to AA-plus on an uncertain economic outlook amid the ongoing euro zone crisis and the need for structural reform. The move cost the monetary union’s No. 2 economy its last major triple-A rating….

In explaining the cut, the rating agency cited a number of causes for concern: weaker economic output, a jump in the unemployment rate, budget deficits and subdued external demand, among others.

Economists and financiers have been insisting that France needs to drastically cut their public spending before they’ll have any chance of achieving a healthy rate of economic growth, but as we’re all too well aware, that’s generally not a part of Socialists’ way of doing things. Hollande’s government has yet to achieve the deficit targets required by the European Union, and while Hollande did venture that there would be “less spending in 2014 than in 2013,” never fear — they already have more phony stimulus plans in the works:

The French government, anxious to match its rhetoric on promoting growth over budget austerity, has unveiled a €12bn plan to boost investment over the next decade, partly funded by the sale of some of the state’s big corporate shareholdings.

But the relatively modest programme will not kick in until 2016 to ensure it does not derail the Socialist government’s commitment to reduce the budget deficit to 3 per cent of output in 2015 – an EU-designated target already set back two years by Brussels as the economy has stumbled.“Investment and budget responsibility go together,” Jean-Marc Ayrault, France’s prime minister, said on Tuesday. “To respect the financial strategy of the state, spending linked to [the investment plan] will grow gradually and will succeed the current future investment programme.”

Come on. A robust and well-oiled economy doesn’t need to the government to motivate it to innovate, modernize, and invest; if you have to consciously push your economy to do so, you’re probably doing something horribly, terribly wrong already. Something like, just for example, banning innovative and wealth-producing technologies that have revolutionized energy industries and opened up for production hitherto unrecoverable reserves of oil and gas the world over? Among other such over-regulatory hindrances, perchance?

French President Francois Hollande ruled out exploration for shale gas during his presidency on Sunday, dousing hopes that a ban on hydraulic fracturing could be reviewed following a legal challenge by a U.S. firm.

France’s top court said this week it will examine the challenge to the ban by Schuepbach Energy, which held two exploration permits that were cancelled when the law was passed in 2011.

Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg stirred debate when he suggested creating a state-backed company to examine exploration techniques. But he was promptly overruled by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

“As long as I am president, there will be no exploration for shale gas in France,” Hollande told France 2 TV in a live interview after Bastille Day celebrations.

Yes, because that certainly doesn’t qualify as cutting your nose off to spite your face, or anything.