Thursday, November 15, 2007

DNA, oui, statistics, non

The Conseil Constitutionnel has ruled that the DNA testing provisions of the Hortefeux Law are legal, provided that the law governing kinship is that of the mother's country of origin and that consular authorities demonstrate that they have verified or attempted to verify regular birth documents before requesting DNA evidence.

By contrast, the Sages ruled against the collection of racial and ethnic statistics on the grounds that Article I of the Constitution declares that France is a "republic, one and indivisible .... ensuring equality before the all for all citizens without distinction as to origin, race, or religion.

Giscard and Chirac sat together on the Council for the first time as ex officio members.

Lagarde en queue du peloton

The Financial Times has issued its annual ranking of European finance ministers, and Christine Lagarde comes in last, although the FT seems skeptical of its own methods:

At the other end of the scale trails Christine Lagarde of France - one of this year's debutantes - who is ranked as the worst performer. France's fiscal recalcitrance continues to raise eyebrows across the rest of Europe while the hyper-activity of Nicolas Sarkozy, the president, especially in economic affairs, creates confusion about who is really running the show.

The FT guide, by nature, uses crude yardsticks. Ms Lagarde could well ask just how should a finance minister be judged - and over what period? What is the appropriate size for a fiscal surplus or deficit or the appropriate tax rate on labour or capital? But benchmarking performances has become as popular among European policymakers as talent shows on television - and there seems no reason why finance ministers should be left behind by fashion.

NPNS Schism

Ni Putes Ni Soumises, the organization founded by Fadela Amara, has been in crisis since she joined the government. Now the movement has split, and a new group has announced itself with a manifesto in today's Le Monde.

Measures for Readers

Culture minister Christine Albanel announced a three-point plan yesterday en faveur du livre: subsidies and tax breaks for independent bookstores, 78 million euros for public libraries, and support for digitization efforts and on-line access via Europeana, the BNF's digital book project. A while back Albanel had announced the opening of negotiations with Google Books, which at the time struck me as an abandonment of the Europeana project on grounds of economy. This new initiative makes the picture less clear.

A New CGT?

Eric Dupin sees Bernard Thibault's actions thus far as I do: Thibault has maneuvered shrewdly to avoid the fate of Arthur Scargill under Thatcher. He has to placate his left-wing opposition, and he has a rank-and-file that does not always see things as the head office does, but he knows that compromise is the only way out of the current impasse. Dupin remarks that internal tensions will be running high in the CGT in coming days.

LATER: Le Monde follows suit.

Laurent on the Euro

Erstwhile "French Politics" contributor Éloi Laurent has many intelligent things to say about the euro in today's Le Monde.

Here are some related thoughts from Paul Krugman and Greg Mankiw, in agreement for once. Tyler Cowen takes a contrarian view, however. Cowen, like Laurent, notes the unsatisfactory state of the models used to predict exchange rate variations, on which Krugman is relying. Brad DeLong nevertheless seems to agree with Krugman.

For a diverting take on the fall of the dollar from a rather different point of view, see again Paul Krugman.