Monday, October 8, 2007

Distrustful France

Le Blog d'un Économiste has an interesting discussion of a colloquium organized around a paper by Yann Algan and Pierre Cahuc entitled "The Society of Distrust" (available here from CEPREMAP). The paper documents the high level of distrust among the French and draws conclusions about the effects on their economic and political behavior. This is a theme that's much in the air these days. As it happens, I'm translating at the moment Pierre Rosanvallon's La Contre-Démocratie: La politique à l'âge de la défiance, which comes at the problem from another angle. Rosanvallon and Olivier Blanchard were commentators at the session described by Étienne Wasmer and organized by Daniel Cohen.

Homeless Immigrants Will Be Sheltered

The government has pledged to oppose the amendment to the immigration bill that would bar illegal immigrants from homeless shelters. If the amendment stands, the government will continue to support shelters that take in homeless immigrants.

An Unusual Demonstration

It's one thing to read in the papers that justice minister Rachida Dati faces opposition among prosecutors, attorneys, ministry staff, etc. It's another to see a demonstration as bizarre as this one (with video), with bâtonniers (presidents of the bar) in black robes facing CRS in riot gear with orders to keep the lawyers away from the Ministry of Justice. The issue is the reform of the so-called carte judiciaire, which will eliminate courts in a number of cities around the country, thus simultaneously obliging the members of the bar in those cities to find work elsewhere or else travel long distances to keep their court dates. Not quite Pakistan yet: the CRS didn't fire on the lawyers. But still ....

Meanwhile, Mme Dati has apparently graced Michel Drucker with an appearance. The president offered his contribution to her life story, but Mme Sarkozy, who is once again rumored to be on the outs with her husband, withdrew at the last minute. M. Bilger is doubtless wrinkling his brow.

Business Climate

A new poll indicates that the French take a surprisingly favorable attitude toward business. Given the country's reputation for hostility to capitalism, globalization, and the market, verified in poll after poll, this result is interesting, even if the survey was sponsored by a business association and published in a business journal. Unsurprisingly, those who identify with the right and/or occupy management positions are more favorable than others, but 66 percent of non-college graduates and 71 percent of "inactive" respondents reported favorable attitudes.