Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Le Tout Technologique"

Gen. Vincent Desportes is worried that France's rejoining NATO will lead to adoption of standards of "interoperability" with American military technology and that this apparently technical decision will lead to political subservience to the United States.

Si, malgré des budgets de défense très inférieurs aux budgets américains, les armées européennes persistent à se doter d'équipement de norme technologique américaine, il y a fort à parier que, dans peu d'années, les forces européennes dans leur ensemble devront abandonner des pans entiers de leurs capacités militaires. La cohérence d'ensemble ne pourra donc être rétablie que sous parapluie et leadership américain.

For a previous comment on Gen. Desportes's ideas, see here.

Lagarde Takes on Goldman Sachs

Christine Lagarde blasted banks that have reverted to their old ways, paying huge bonuses to go-go bankers. To be sure, the French finance minister hopes that France will gain some competitive advantage from its reputation for tougher banking regulation, but she apparently intends to make an issue of the U.S. government's unwillingness to rein in banks like Goldman Sachs:

"We have the rules now. It is not a question of -re-inventing the wheel or procrastinating about them. It is a question of applying a set of rules that have now been agreed by the Financial Stability Board. The utmost priority should be given to their implementation," she said. "If operators are not prepared to play by those rules, then make sure we have prudential rules that strongly encourage them to do so."

Ms Lagarde acknowledged that it was "tough" imposing higher standards on French banks in terms of pay that could put them at a competitive disadvantage in recruitment.

"It is not fair that some players are playing by the rules and that some players - especially when they are highly subsidised - are simply ignoring the rules."

But she said Paris as a financial centre stood to benefit from the enhanced reputation of its universal bank business model - combining investment banking with retail operations - and of its regulatory system, and from London's tarnished image. "I don't think we have been guilty of the same excess, not to say that we have been paragons of virtue," she said.

More Criticism of OpinionWay

Here. And here.

Rocard Proposes Carbon Tax

Michel Rocard, speaking as the chair of a committee looking into energy use, has proposed a carbon tax of 32 euros per ton, which would amount to 7.7 centimes per liter of unleaded gasoline.

An Astonishing Regulatory Decision

A company named Voltalis has developed innovative technology for "distributive load shedding," which automatically turns off subscribers' appliances such as air conditioners during peak-consumption hours in order to avoid heavy user charges. Yet this energy-conserving technology has run afoul of French regulators. Amazing.

A half-hearted and unconvincing attempt at an explanation here.

Maurice Grimaud Dies

Préfet de police in Paris during May '68, Maurice Grimaud was one of the cooler heads at a time when hotheads on the side of both the government and the protesters could have made things a lot worse. Daniel Cohn-Bendit remembered him as “the archetypal honest cop.”