Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Euro

Ernest-Antoine Seillière, head of Business Europe and former head of MEDEF, has written to Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the Eurogroup, to express the business community's worries about the rising euro. Indeed, the decision by the US Federal Reserve to cut the fed funds rate confronts the European Central Bank with a dilemma: either follow the Fed's lead with a rate cut or allow the euro to appreciate further. In any case, Sarkozy, who preceded Seillière in raising the alarm about the euro, now has an influential ally in his opposition to the banker's consensus.


The Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF, French equivalent of the SEC) has submitted to prosecutors evidence of insider trading in EADS stock prior to the announcement of Airbus production difficulties and a drastic plunge in share prices. All the major EADS figures are involved, including Sarkozy's close friend Arnaud Lagardère (who refers to the president as his "older brother"). The state is also involved, since the AMF claims that Thierry Breton, then minister of industry, was warned that the state ought to dump part of its "participation" in EADS stock.

It will be very interesting to see how this case is handled.

Veiled Conviviality

In Épinal, which has already seen the sentencing of a schoolteacher for using a racist slur in the classroom, one Fanny Truchelut, guest house owner, is on trial for refusing a room to a veiled Muslim woman on the grounds that the veil is an impediment to "conviviality," on which she insists for all her guests. She also claims to be a deeply secular person and to regard the veil "as a sign of the submission of women," which is particularly offensive to her because as a child she was "mistreated, beaten, and oppressed." When asked if she would rent a room to a Jew wearing a kipa, she said, "No, because I believe that all religious signs ... they should stay in the private sphere."

This would appear to be the reductio ad absurdum of certain arguments advanced in the name of laïcité.