Monday, November 26, 2007

Gender Equality

PSA and AXA have taken concrete steps and reached agreements with their unions that should allow both firms to move toward equality in pay between men and women doing comparable jobs.

Meanwhile, Laurence Parisot wants to "eliminate penalties" for failure to achieve salary equality.

Novel Harmonies

Nicolas Sarkozy placed his visit to China under the sign of "harmony," echoing one of the Chinese government's own themes. But he introduced a couple of interesting dissidences into his chord progression before returning to the principal theme, the signing of more than 20 billion euros worth of contracts. He told his Chinese hosts that, in his opinion, "a great country ought to have a strong currency." He might have found a better way to put it. This formulation seemed to hark back to the old French delusion that a country's exchange rate is something like an index of comparative virility. As Sarkozy well knows, however, France would be in a somewhat better position now if its currency were weaker, so that Airbus wouldn't have to contemplate outsourcing to the dollar zone. Still, the Chinese took the point well enough: "I understand that there is a problem," said Hu Jintao, "but it's not simple for us."

Sarko was equally blunt about Chinese pollution: "Chinese growth should not and cannot come at the price of a degradation of the global environment, exhaustion of natural resources, and accelerated warming of the planet." And one of the contracts signed in China was with Natixis, which will supply equipment to reduce CO2 emissions. Of course that contract was for only a few million euros, compared with the 12 billion to Airbus for aircraft that will add to emissions, but the symbolism is noteworthy. And the 8 billion to Areva for nuclear technology may be regarded as symbolic in its own right.