Friday, July 9, 2010

Transnational Institutions or National Surrogates?

The IMF and the ECB are supposed to be transnational institutions, but here we have the ECB in the person of German executive board member Jürgen Stark squaring off against the IMF in the person of French chief economist Olivier Blanchard. Is this a national confrontation par institutions internationales interposées? Or is it rather a confrontation between economic theory and pragmatic caution? See, for example, the discussion here.

Pocket Money

One wonders why investigations in France are always such information sieves. How, exactly, did the press get hold of Mme Thibout's famous notebooks? (I note in passing that the Bettencourts may have €14 billion, but they don't seem to have thought of buying their accountant a computer with a spreadsheet program. But I digress.) Here we have Le Figaro's take:

Pour un certain nombre de montants, les mentions «Monsieur» ou «Monsieur Bettencourt» apparaissent dans la colonne dépenses. Au total, 183.350 euros seraient concernés, d'après les calculs des journalistes. Or Claire Thibout avait déclaré aux enquêteurs que les sommes destinées à financer des politiques portaient justement ces mentions, car elle remettait alors directement cet argent à André Bettencourt, ou à son gestionnaire de fortune Patrice de Maistre. La défense des Bettencourt concernant ces opérations est simple. Comme le soutenait jeudi George Kiejman, l'avocat de Liliane Bettencourt, dans Libération, «pas le moindre élément (ne permet) de dire que ces sommes ont servi à autre chose que d'argent de poche à André Bettencourt».

Sheesh. That's a lot of pocket change. Not only haven't the Bettencourts heard of spreadsheets, they don't seem to know about checks or credit cards either.