Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Right Way and the Wrong Way

In an article devoted mainly to Ségolène Royal's wave-making at the Public Investment Bank, we read this:

Mais, en dépit des dénégations, la polémique au sommet de la BPI illustre de vraies divergences sur le bon usage des deniers publics. Des divergences que l'on retrouve au sein de Bercy, entre le ministre des finances, Pierre Moscovici, et le ministre du redressement productif, Arnaud Montebourg. Tandis que le premier veut orienter la BPI vers le soutien aux filières d'avenir, en l'éloignant du rôle de "pompier", le second fait du sauvetage et de la restructuration de filières industrielles emblématiques une priorité.
Moscovici is so right about this, and Montebourg so wrong, that it's easy to imagine why the two are constantly at loggerheads. I've written often about France's need to shift capital from declining sectors with overcapacity into rising sectors where new businesses are starved for startup funds. The role of the BPI (with its strictly limited capital) should be to supply them.

As for Mme Royal's sudden return to the front pages (two days running in Le Monde), she seems to have timed her move carefully. After the contretemps with the president's new companion last year, Royal largely stayed out of the public eye and gave Hollande room to be Hollande. Now she is prodding him from the left, where he needs to be prodded. Her influence is probably negligible, but the press is still interested in what she has to say, so perhaps she can accomplish something. Now that her call for a "restructuring" of Bercy has been echoed by Fabius, perhaps not coincidentally, one sees how a well-placed remark by an outsider can be amplified by an insider. This may not be the best way to conduct an internal policy debate, but anything that furthers such debate within the majority is to be encouraged. Two cheers for Royal.


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FrédéricLN said...

Well… As far as I understand, Royal supports Montebourg in this very case, and as vice-chair of BPI (http://www.leparisien.fr/politique/royal-s-en-prend-encore-au-directeur-de-la-bpi-07-05-2013-2786143.php).

Her own management (and incredible regional financing) of the Heuliez case, is the most beautiful example of politically-oriented mis-investment.

As sad as it can be, she's member of the club of French énarques who didn't work a day of their life outside the State-run (or political parties-run) system, and just can't grasp what a bottom line, or a return on investment, are.

(Hollande, Sarkozy… are other well-known members).