Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mélenchon Inventories His Possessions

He has 12,000 books. I have about the same number. Mon semblable et frère. He has rather a good time with the whole disclosure business, listing his height, weight, and pant, shirt, and shoe size. Transparency indeed.

Is the Austerity Front Crumbling?

The eurozone is reluctant to admit formally that it is changing its austerity strategy, but in fact it is searching in every corner of national budgets to alleviate the squeeze on its troubled economies, and rightly so.
Recently, member states which have missed their budget targets (and that has been most of them) have been given more time to reach their objectives, implying less fiscal tightening in the near term.
I think Davies is unduly optimistic. Such tinkering around the edges of the problem will not deal with the core reality, which is that a massive amount of wealth has been or will be destroyed (collapsing asset prices, bond write-downs, etc.), and Europe has yet to share those losses in an equitable way. Until an agreement on burden-sharing is reached, which gives some relief to the weaker economies and accepts greater burden for the stronger ones, the application of more band-aids will not stanch the bleeding.

Prochasson Biography of Furet

Historian Christophe Prochasson has published a biography of the father of the revisionist school of the history of the French Revolution, François Furet. This promises to be a very interesting book, and I have ordered a copy. Furet was the son of a banker who became a Communist before turning against the very idea of revolutionary change. His work had a profound impact on the writing of history in France and, to a lesser extent, in the United States.

Review of Streeck, "Gekaufte Zeit"

Wolfgang Streeck, one of the leading theorists in comparative political economy, has a new book, Gekaufte Zeit, in which he argues that capitalism and democracy have become incompatible because capital rejects the fetters placed on it by democratic political systems. The books is reviewed here by Philip Mader.

Case Against Sarkozy Is Weak

The evidence supporting the charge of "abuse of frailty" against Nicolas Sarkozy in the Bettencourt affair is tenuous at best, according to Le Monde, which has analyzed all the documents.

The Grand Rabbin Resigns

Grand Rabbin Gilles Bernheim, admitting plagiarism and confessing that he did not actually hold an agrégation, resigned today.

Rehn Calls for Germany to Boost Demand

Times quotes Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Monetary and Economic Affairs:
But Mr. Rehn also echoed calls made earlier this week by the U.S. Treasury secretary, Jacob J. Lew, for Germany, the biggest economy in the euro zone and one of its most robust, to do more to spur spending and help revive growth.
“I still believe, and the commission still believes, that there is much more Germany can do in order to boost its domestic demand,” Mr. Rehn said.
Germany, he said, should do more to open its service sector to competition, to increase the number of women in the labor market and to lift wages to match greater productivity. Such steps could lead to greater exports from other euro zone economies.
Now, Olli Rehn is hardly a model of anti-austerity politics, nor is he in any sense a Keynesian. In the same breath he calls on France to cut wages and government spending. But even at the heart of austerianism, there is a sense that demand must come from somewhere, and Rehn, like Lew, is calling on Germany to step up. I cite this article to extend the answer I gave yesterday to a comment by Brent on an earlier post.