Thursday, September 13, 2007

L'An Quarante

In French there is an expression, je m'en fiche comme de l'an quarante, which one might translate into English as, "I couldn't care less." Robert's Dictionnaire des Expressions et Locutions gives several possible etymologies, but the most likely is that the phrase, which first appeared around 1790, was coined by sans-culottes, who were indicating their indifference to the fortieth year of the reign of Louis XVI, which they were confident would never arrive.

I mention this because the NBER Working Papers series recently released a paper by renowned cliometrician and Nobel laureate Robert Fogel in which he gives his forecast for what global capitalism will look like in 2040--l'an quarante. What he says about Europe is the following:

To my mind, the most unsettling of the forecasts in Table 2 is the relative decline of the European Union implied by its stagnation in population and its modest growth in GDP.

Comment on the report can be found here. If you have access to the NBER WP, the number is 13184.

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