Saturday, April 12, 2008

Analysis of Piketty-Bozio Plan

Ceteris Paribus has an interesting analysis of the Piketty-Bozio retirement reform that I discussed yesterday. He remarks that one drawback of the plan is that it will reduce the benefits to civil servants, whose current retirement regime is more favorable than the private sector regime. Hence in addition to the political opposition that I mentioned yesterday from the "social partners" who manage the existing system and derive considerable "rents" from their privileged position, civil servants (and their unions) will have a further reason for opposition.

Fronde

The turmoil in the UMP is spreading. Claude Goasguen speaks of a "deep malaise" in an interview with JDD. Deputies are miffed that they are ignored by ministers, who view them as powerless and whose only interest is to please the president. He sees political life as having been reduced to "a face-off between the president and public opinion." He believes that the government could have avoided mistakes by consulting with deputies of the majority before taking controversial decisions. With more controversial decisions ahead, "an effort must be made to educate instead of dropping measures one after another as in a bombardment." "Many feel that Sarkozy's voluntarism is running out of steam."

Compare with this pre-election endorsement:

Joblessness


Paul Krugman neatly makes the point that the European, and in particular the French, employment picture has improved in recent years, while that of the United States has worsened, calling into question many of the contrasts between economic systems that were drawn with such confidence in the 1990s and continue to be drawn with confidence today by people who should know better.

Maturity


Pirates! Sarko I would have stripped to the waist, inserted dagger between teeth, and boarded the Ponant himself to save the hostages. Or he would have sent Cecilia. Sarko II let the commandos do the work and posed discreetly with the families.

The metamorphosis has been duly noted in all the media. "The reconquest has begun," proclaims Le Figaro. "Nicolas fait du Mitterrand." This is no doubt better than faire du Chirac. Read a little farther, however, and you begin to worry that Sarko II may be taking the Mitterrand act rather too far: "La grande affaire de l'Élysée, c'est donc la présidence européenne. Une étape clé du quinquennat, laisse-t-on entendre au Palais. Une étape préparée avec soin." Oh dear, oh dear! This is beginning to sound dire. Dr. Johnson may have said that "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel," but that was before the supranational alternative existed. Mitterrand, it will be recalled, turned to Europe after the failure of "socialism in one country" in 1983. It was another era of rigueur that dared not speak its name. To be sure, the hopes dashed by the failure of la détaxation des heures sup' are not quite of the same order as the hopes of un avenir radieux et les lendemains qui chantent. But Europe deserves better than sloppy seconds.