Friday, October 24, 2008

How ya doin'?

Periodically I take stock of how the blog is doing. As you can see from the stat counter to the right, we're over 180,000 page views, averaging about 12,000 a month of late, down from the peak of 15,000, which came after Sarkozy's "casse-toi pauvr' con" remark: there's no accounting for taste, and there's no accounting for what causes Anglophones to seek news about French politics. When they do, if they search Google under "French politics," this blog comes up number one among 16,500,000 hits, ahead even of Wikipedia. I guess that's something. There are now over 460 Feedburner subscribers.

And then I was pleased to read yesterday on one of my favorite blogs, Crooked Timber, that French Politics is "one of the treasures of the blogosphere." Thanks, Henry. Of course the pleasure was spoiled somewhat by this (predictable) comment: "I am trying very hard to resist making a comment on the suggestion that there is anything about French politics that is a 'treasure.'" Dear Antti Nannimus: if you can't find the treasure, learn to cherish la nostalgie de la boue.

In any case, I persist, and as always I welcome your suggestions of things I ought to have looked at but haven't.

State Capitalism, Left-Wing Version

An interesting portrait of Benoît Hamon with, for good measure, an assessment of the internal shifts in the Socialist Party in the wake of the crisis. This article also appears on Marianne2, where the characterization of Hamon as a "Sarkozy of the left" is hardly calculated to do him any good. But the description of Hamon's new state capitalist ambitions, including a sovereign wealth fund à la Sarko and the constitution of something like a "French Gazprom," shows him stealing a march not only on Sarkozy but also, the author (Malakine) somewhat perfidiously adds, Vladimir Putin.

France-Germany: Ça chauffe

Angela Merkel wants a meeting with Sarkozy. Her spokesman, Ulrich Wilhelm, has let it be known that in the German chancellor's view, any attempt by a French sovereign wealth fund (announced by Sarko yesterday) to prevent an acquisition by foreign capital must be compatible with internal EU regulations. Furthermore, if there is to be a new "economic government" of Europe, the "natural president" is Luxembourg's Juncker, not Sarkozy. Two shots across Sarko's bow.

Anyone who saw Juncker on France2 the other day in an interview with David Pujadas will recognize that Juncker is of the same opinion. He treated Pujadas' aggressive questioning about Luxembourg's fiscal paradise status and lax banking regulation as though Pujadas were a French skirmisher striking out in advance of an invading army. And he may well have been. What better way to exclude Juncker from the job of economic crisis czar than to link him to the failures at the heart of the crisis? (Past associations haven't slowed Henry Paulson down, though. Sarkozy should keep this in mind.)