Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Is the ECB Stubborn?

Jérome Créel and Éloi Laurent believe that the European Central Bank's persistence in its anti-inflation policy is unjustified. I agree with the analysis presented here. Today's report on the sudden precipitous decline in the US service sector, which triggered severe drops in stock markets around the world, is further evidence that the ECB is sacrificing too much in its zeal to maintain a credible commitment to a tight money policy.

Photos of Ségo at Harvard

Another blog has somehow obtained photos of Ségolène Royal's seminar appearance yesterday. That's me next to her in the first photo.

Le Monde's report.

The previously announced Wednesday seminar has been canceled because Mme Royal felt that her schedule was too full. She will be giving a speech on Thursday night at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. This is open to the public and will take place at 6 PM, I believe.

Moscovici on Versailles

Pierre Moscovici says that the depth of the Socialists' division at Versailles on the issue of Europe surprised him--an interesting admission for one who aspires to lead the party. He also has some choice words for Jean-François Copé: "The guy definitely has a deep nasty streak and an innate inelegance, which his intelligence fails to correct."

Income Inequality in France

Camille Landais, a student of Thomas Piketty, has extended Piketty's work on French income distribution to the period 1998-2006. He finds that while income in France generally remains more equally distributed than in more liberal capitalist economies such as the US and UK, inequality has increased, with much of the increased revenue going to the top centile. Yet he also finds a rapid increase in wage inequality, marking a shift from 25 years of relative stability in France.

Thanks to La Vie des Idées for the pointer.

Socialists Still Deeply Divided on Europe

At Harvard yesterday, Ségolène Royal spoke of her ambition to lead a united and strongly pro-European Socialist Party. Yesterday's vote at the Congrès de Versailles suggests that she will have a hard row to hoe. Despite the Party's presumed decision to abstain from voting on the constitutional amendment necessary to allow ratification of the Lisbon Treaty by the National Assembly, without a referendum, only 142 of roughly 300 PS delegates abstained, while only 32 voted in favor of the amendment and 121 voted against. Jean-Luc Mélenchon interprets the strong no vote as a consequence of impending municipal elections: local politicians have thought it wise to heed their "base." Alain Becquet asked, "Why serve as a crutch for Nicolas Sarkozy's liberal Europe?"

"Modernizing" the Socialist Party--if that is the right word--will clearly be a tall order. Fifteen years after Maastricht, two years after the referendum on the constitutional treaty, and nine months after losing a third consecutive presidential election, the Socialists have yet to settle on a common line on Europe.

Lagarde vs. Sarkozy, Round 15

Once again, Christine Lagarde has contradicted her boss: she says there will be no subsidy for Arcelor to keep its plant in Gandrange open, but Sarkozy had previously delivered what one CGT delegate described as a real "union man's speech" promising assistance. One more reason to think that Lagarde's days at Bercy are numbered.

Europe1 on Ségo at Harvard

Here is Europe1's report on Ségolène Royal's Harvard appearance: she is "buffing up her image" and attempting to persuade people that she is not a "bécassine incompétente" (an incompetent goose--a phrase for which I leave full responsibility to Karim Rissouli, the station's correspondent). Notice that there is not a word about what she said. The entire report is about her alleged need to alter the public's perception of her. Harvard, meanwhile, is described as a "temple of knowledge." We are all reduced to empty symbols in the media's would-be omnipotent narrative.

Dray Wields the Dagger

While Ségolène Royal lays out her vision for the Socialist Party for an audience of Harvard students, her former advisor Julien Dray makes his move to assume the leadership of the party in her stead.

Times on SocGen

The New York Times provides the fullest reporting to date on the SocGen scandal.