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France Turns to Grandparents to Liberate Covid Cash Pile

Elderly residents play bingo at a retirement home outside Paris on March 22. 

Elderly residents play bingo at a retirement home outside Paris on March 22. 

Photographer: Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images

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France is weighing tax breaks for grandparents who hand cash to their grandchildren as a way to boost the economic recovery and mobilize more than 100 billion euros ($118 billion) of excess savings built up during the pandemic.

Turning savings into spending is crucial for economies in European countries like France, where massive government aid to prop up incomes during lockdowns has largely been stashed by consumers. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire estimates the sum of excess savings could total 200 billion euros by the time the crisis is over – twice the amount the government has earmarked for its plan to reboot economic growth.