Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Comparative Demographics of France and Germany

France may be economically down at the moment compared with Germany, but Germany's demographic outlook is not good, as this article makes clear. If present trends continue, Germany's population will age rapidly, and its dependency ratio will increase sharply. Of course, immigration, boosted by the crisis, may ameliorate the picture somewhat. But the demographic outlook is one factor contributing to the high German savings rate, which in turn contributes to structural imbalances in the eurozone. It is important to keep this in mind.

Mitterrand in Massachusetts

In last night's senatorial debate between Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren, Brown borrowed a well-known zinger from François Mitterrand:

After Warren gave a long, three-part answer, plus “icing” for a total of four, about how Brown has been less bipartisan than advertised in voting against jobs bills, he let loose with this: “Excuse me, I’m not a student in your classroom. Please let me respond.”
Old-timers like me will recall that Mitterrand was widely thought to have won the 1981 presidential debate with Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (and possibly the election as well) when he responded to Giscard's attempt to trip him up on the franc-Deutschmark exchange rate with the statement:

I don't much like your tone, and I'm not your student.
Mitterrand then gave a precise figure for the exchange rate in question. His response was made even more pointed by the fact that he used the word élève in French rather than étudiant. The former refers to an elementary school pupil. He thus amplified his scorn for Giscard's hauteur, which many people already disliked.

How nice to see a Republican candidate in the US borrowing from a French socialist.

Can the Center Hold?

Bernard Girard considers Gérard Grunberg's thesis that France's future relations with Europe depends on compromise between the center-right and center-left, since both the left and the right are now irrevocably fractured over the question of further European integration. I have been saying this for some time, and Hollande's reversal on the TSCG, which he now makes the sine qua non of sound economic policy after having opposed it during his campaign, seems to me proof that such an "historic compromise" has already been effected in fact if not in theory. The problem is that I am not at all sure that it is a compromise that enjoys majority support, and what support it does enjoy is likely to diminish over the months ahead, as the consequences of austerity become increasingly apparent. This is an alarming state of affairs.

Crédit Agricole Will Sell Emporiki for 1 Euro

Crédit Agricole paid €2.2 billion for the Greek bank Emporiki in 2006. It now plans to sell the bank to the Greek bank Alpha for 1 euro. Is there anything else to say?