Friday, November 28, 2008

Sarko Wants Lower Housing Prices

Blunt as always, President Sarkozy says he'd like to do more in the housing realm, but he's waiting for prices to hit bottom. He doesn't want state purchases to contribute to maintaining the price bubble. If he made such a statement in the US, he'd likely be tarred and feathered by the millions whose property is now "under water," as they say in the mortgage business. Prices rise and prices fall: "That's what a market economy is," says the French president, impeccable in his logic. But wait: didn't Sarko guarantee a while back that the government would guarantee all bank loans? So when the state buys properties after the market bottoms, will it make the banks whole on their mortgage losses? Why wait until the market bottoms in that case? Perhaps it will go after the defaulting mortgagees? Perhaps someone can tell me if that is possible under French law. In many US states, mortgages are "no recourse" loans, meaning that the lender can recover only the collateral, in this case the house, but cannot sue the borrower or seize other property she may own. What is French law in this regard?

Party of European Socialists

The Party of European Socialists will adopt its manifesto for the 2009 European elections at a meeting in Madrid on Dec. 1. Martine Aubry will represent the French Socialist Party.

To See Ourselves as Others See Us

Le Figaro believes that the crisis has tarnished Angela Merkel's reputation and diminished her international stature, to the benefit of Nicolas Sarkozy:

La presse germanique loue le dynamisme du président français, Nicolas Sarkozy, qui «agit» alors que Mme Merkel «attend», comme le souligne la FAZ. «On dirait qu'An­gela Merkel veut combattre le monstre de la crise économique avec une tapette à mouches», brocarde le quotidien de centre gauche Süddeutsche Zeitung en ridiculisant les «mesurettes» annoncées jusqu'ici.

The Financial Times is rather less inclined to praise Sarkozy:

But privately, a UK official suggested Mr Sarkozy had fallen victim to needless grandstanding on the issue.

To be sure, Tibet and dealing with the financial crisis are different issues, but "needless grandstanding" has been a theme running through much British and American comment on Sarkozy in recent weeks. Le Figaro doesn't seem to have noticed.