Thursday, August 20, 2009

ATTAC on the Decline

ATTAC, the antiglobalization activist group, has lost half its membership over the past 3 years. Somewhat surprisingly, the economic crisis appears to have done nothing to replenish the ranks.

Delanoë: Frustration, Anxiety, Anger

Bertrand Delanoë has apparently told his courant that the Socialist Party inspires in him "frustration, anxiety, and even a kind of anger." The same op-ed (by Michel Noblecourt) discusses the positions of the various other party elephants in advance of the upcoming summer university in La Rochelle.

Working Time

Two interesting bits of news on the labor front. First, overtime hours decreased 10% on a year-over-year basis in the second quarter of 2009. Clearly the crisis is to blame, but the number highlights what was always an obvious weakness of one of Sarkozy's signature reforms, the tax exemption for overtime, enacted in 2007. This was supposed to spur job creation, but it's of little avail when the animal spirits are weak and employers are not disposed to employ. Second, another Sarko reform, embodied in the law of August 2008, established the possibility of modifying the 35-hour work week through labor-management negotiations at the firm or branch level. But few such negotiations have actually taken place since the law was passed.

Chatel's Chattel

Intermarché turned out a claque of desperate housewives to greet education minister Luc Chatel in the back-to-school aisle, where the obliging women told the minister what he wanted to hear, that his "back-to-school essentials" program was working out just as planned. Unfortunately, the ruse was cousu de fil blanc and has made a laughingstock of Chatel both at home and abroad. Nadine Morano was caught in a similar cock-up last year. You'd think they'd learn, but I suppose that being a minister, surrounded by flattering toadies, one loses one's ability to distinguish authentic from inauthentic.