Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pétain's Desk

Pétain's admirers have paid 40,000 euros for the desk he used as head of state. It had belonged to a Jewish family from Alsace, was requisitioned by the government, and then returned to the family after the war.

Overvalued Euro?

Willem Buiter thinks that the euro is overvalued and that the ECB ought to do something about it. Why? Because, in Buiter's view, the ECB interprets its price stability mandate asymmetrically:

There is no doubt in my view that the ECB has an asymmetric interpretation of its price stability mandate. Excessive inflation is to be avoided at all cost. However, excessive deflation can be tolerated and rationalized.


Buiter doesn't link this observation to the demonstrations of farmers across France against falling producer prices for food and impending bankruptcy for many of them, but it's plausible to think that the strong euro is favoring imported over homegrown agricultural products. The demonstrations in France have been smoldering with rage against the government, but in this case the government and the demonstrators may have a common antagonist: the ECB.

Diam's Takes the Veil

A few women in burqas are nothing compared to 250,000 fans of Diam's following her conversion to Islam on the Match site. This is a sign worth noting.

The Supreme Leader Extolled

How is France like North Korea? Answer here.

Perhaps we should take nominations for the Sarkoflunky of the month award. Estrosi, featured in the link above, enjoys substantial competition this week, but he gets my nod because he flattered the chief directly rather than by way of his son. Still, just as the president noted that those who attacked his son were really attacking him, those who praise his son are really lauding him. For the record, they include Patrick Balkany ("Jean has more talent than his father had at the same age"), Isabelle Balkany ("he is the best among us"), Jean-François Copé ("he was elected!"), and, most remarkably, Eric Besson ("when a talent explodes on the football field at age 16 or 17, you don't ask how old he is").

I am grateful to Copé, however, for reminding me of Sarkozy's characterization of the French: "Ils sont monarchistes et régicides." Indeed. And Copé would be the first to voter la mort if he thought he could head le comité de salut public.