Monday, September 13, 2010

Smoking Gun Found, "Rendered Inoperative"

In case anyone doubted that ethnic cleansing was involved in the decision to dismantle Roma camps, a memo from Brice Hortefeux's chef de cabinet surfaced this weekend making the point explicit. Hortefeux has now withdrawn the memo, however, and replaced it with one of his own purporting to enact an equal-opportunity expulsion policy. But the original message, no doubt received loud and clear by prefects, cannot be erased from consciousness.

Did the Élysée Break the Law?

Le Monde claims that the Élysée tasked an investigative agency, the DCRI, with identifying the source of information provided to the newspaper about the Bettencourt-Woerth affair. This would presumably be a violation of a law put in place under Sarkozy himself to protect journalistic sources.

Did France Cause the Great Depression?

I haven't read this paper (gated) yet, but I couldn't resist quoting the abstract:

The gold standard was a key factor behind the Great Depression, but why did it produce such an intense worldwide deflation and associated economic contraction? While the tightening of U.S. monetary policy in 1928 is often blamed for having initiated the downturn, France increased its share of world gold reserves from 7 percent to 27 percent between 1927 and 1932 and effectively sterilized most of this accumulation. This "gold hoarding" created an artificial shortage of reserves and put other countries under enormous deflationary pressure. Counterfactual simulations indicate that world prices would have increased slightly between 1929 and 1933, instead of declining calamitously, if the historical relationship between world gold reserves and world prices had continued. The results indicate that France was somewhat more to blame than the United States for the worldwide deflation of 1929-33. The deflation could have been avoided if central banks had simply maintained their 1928 cover ratios.

Eric Fassin on the Roma

Here:

Inversons l’analyse : les Roms, les musulmans, mais aussi les « jeunes d’origine immigrée », les Noirs ou les « couples mixtes », sont les signifiants variables d’un même signifié flottant ; et c’est précisément le caractère hétéroclite de la liste qui en est le révélateur. Qu’ont-ils en commun ? À l’évidence, rien – si ce n’est que les uns et les autres se trouvent disponibles, si l’on ose dire, pour la rhétorique politique de stigmatisation actuelle. Quelles propriétés symboliques, et non pas sociales, les Roms partagent-ils avec ces groupes divers ? La réponse ne nous dira rien sur les causes de cette phobie ; en revanche, elle en éclairera le fonctionnement. Elle permettra de comprendre, non pas pourquoi, mais comment les Roms se trouvent pris dans la rhétorique gouvernementale. L’hypothèse qu’on voudrait développer ici, c’est que tous ces groupes stigmatisés sont à la frontière entre « eux » et « nous » – ni dedans, ni dehors, ou plutôt les deux à la fois. Le « problème », c’est qu’ils ont en même temps un pied dedans et un pied dehors.