Monday, September 7, 2009

No Comment

Roselyne Bachelot evaluates the physique of the young Socialists.

Convenient Capitulation

How convenient: France's partners didn't want to cap bankers' pay, so now France won't have to either. Sarkozy's outrage needn't compromise the competitive position of French banking after all. Perhaps the best comment on this charade is from a German:

“Sometimes I get the impression that in some countries, and in some financial institutions, the casino is open again,” said Jürgen Thumann, the head of BusinessEurope, the pan-European employers’ group.

Françafrique vit encore

Nicolas Sarkozy had promised to change the ways of France in dealing with Africa. He intimated that Françafrique was no more. But Robert Bourgi, who was deeply enmeshed in the old ways of doing business and who presents himself these days as close to Sarkozy, has been saying that things haven't changed all that much:

«Je suis allé voir le Président de la République à l’Elysée en présence de M. Guéant et je lui ai passé le message ferme et voilé de menaces du Président Bongo. Et il m’a dit: écoute, dis à Omar (comme il l’appelle) et aux autres Chefs d’Etat que M. Bockel partira bientôt et sera remplacé par un de mes amis, un ami de M. Guéant. Il m’a donné le nom en me demandant de le garder pour moi. Et il m’a dit aussi (c’est important): ce nouveau ministre prendra ton attache, ne sois pas étonné et quelque part, tu l’initieras à l’Afrique.»

Effects of the Crisis

OK, bear with me: this will be the last map post for a while, I promise. Here you can see rather dramatically the effects of the crisis. From 2006 through 2007 there is steady improvement in the unemployment picture (click to enlarge), but then the crisis hits and sets most of the country back to where it was in 2006. Only the northwest is slightly better off: Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis.

Power and the Press

Marianne has an interview with Yves Bertrand, former head of the Renseignements Généraux, in which he comments on the press:

Connaître le nom du futur patron du Monde, de L’Express ou de Marianne était, pour moi et mes « lecteurs », quelque chose de fondamental. Probablement plus que de connaître le nom du futur ministre des Energies renouvelables ! Le Monde n’est pas n’importe quel organe de presse. L’affaiblissement du monopole idéologique exercé par ce quotidien ne pouvait me laisser indifférent. A` une certaine époque, personne n’osait contredire Le Monde. L’équipe constituée par Edwy Plenel, patron de la rédaction, et l’investigateur Hervé Gattegno était à même de nuire à n’importe quelle réputation ou situation : vous aviez traversé la rue en dehors des clous ? Vous étiez mort ! Mais lorsque vous voulez être trop puissant, vous finissez par vous faire abattre, ce qui a fini par arriver à Plenel, qui a laissé derrière lui un journal dont la ligne n’a pas fini de flotter...

Unemployment Again

Still playing with the mapping routines in R. Here is a comparison of unemployment in France at decade intervals: 1q of 1989, 1999, and 2009 (INSEE data, click on any map to enlarge). I've fixed the South Corsica bug and changed the color mapping so that the deepest blue is the lowest unemployment and the brightest red is the highest. As we approach the regional elections, maps like these may become useful. As you can see, things have improved quite a bit since 1999 but are still not back to the "cool" map of 1989.

The Traveling Salesman

Sarko's back to his old VRP routine, peddling high-tech weaponry in Brazil. Outsourced to Judah Grunstein.

Bayrou's "Public Offer of Dialogue"

François Bayrou refuses to stay down on the mat. He was pretty well wiped out in the last (European) elections, yet over the weekend he was attempting to resurrect himself as leader of the opposition, making a "public offer of dialogue" to the PS. (Eric Dupin wittily compares this "OPD" to an OPA.) He brings little to the dialogue other than his pretension to be the most anti-Sarkozyst of all and therefore the natural leader of the opposition. It takes chutzpah to do this after being repudiated by the voters and humiliated by Cohn-Bendit. But the slow-talking Bayrou is a patient man. He expects that somehow, some day, the tide will turn. And so he persists in his increasingly lonely and futile quest.

IMF Blog

The IMF has a blog.