Monday, February 8, 2010

Riding to Hounds with Nicolas le Petit

This is precious (h/t MYOS):

Les chasses présidentielles! On avait oublié que ça existait. Ou plutôt on pensait que ça ne pouvait plus exister. D'ailleurs, un président du XXIe siècle qui avait dit, je cite... «Je veux changer la pratique de la république: plus de simplicité plus de proximité, plus d'authenticité» (spot de campagne, avril 2007) ne pouvait pas réactiver cette institution caricaturale de notre république aux accents monarchiques que sont les chasses présidentielles.
Sont invités des préfets, des ministres, surtout des partons du CAC40 et des grands flics aussi. On dit que Martin Bouygues, Serge Dassault, l'ancien procureur Yves Bot, le sans doute futur membre du Conseil constitutionnel Michel Charasse y ont tiré quelques gibiers récemment. Le but avoué est de créer des «obligés de l'Elysée». On se promet des rosettes, des pistons, des prébendes, des marchés... On y fomente des trahisons, des alliances... après avoir descendu un vieux faisan qui n'avait sans doute jamais volé avant d'être lâché fort opportunément devant les calibres de cette nouvelle noblesse bling bling.


From Calculated Risk:

"Europe has become a huge game of chicken, whereby the Greeks are waiting for help from the outside and donors are waiting for Greece to take a step forward."
Mohamed El-Erian, Pimco, Feb 8, 2010

And from Simon Johnson:

Some financial market participants cling to the hope that the stronger eurozone countries, particularly Germany, will soon help out the weaker countries in a generous manner.   But this view completely misreads the situation.
The German authorities are happy to have the euro depreciate this far, and probably would not mind if it moves another 10-20 percent.  They are convinced that they must – in fact, should – export their way back to acceptable growth levels.
Competitive depreciation is of course a no-no in international policy circles.  But if your dissolute neighbors – with whom you happen to share a credit union – threaten to implode their debt rollovers, and makets react negatively, how can you be held responsible?
Germany and France have no objection to euro depreciation – they are confident that the European Central Bank can prevent this from turning into inflation.
It’s the US that should be concerned about the effect on its exports (and imports; goods from the eurozone become cheaper as the euro falls in value) if the euro moves too far and too fast.  But the US failed to raise the issue with sufficient force at the G7 finance ministers conclave in Canada and the course is now set – at least until Thursday.
The euro depreciates, the dollar strengthens, and our path to recovery starts to run more uphill.
And if these European troubles start to be reflected in difficulties for leading global banks over the next few days or weeks, the negative impact will be much greater.


Try as I might to avoid being drawn into the publicity machine of France's ubiquitous bare-breasted philosophotaster (a neologism I base on the analogy with "poetaster"), his sins continue to grow increasingly outrageous with age, so that I cannot avoid commenting on them, if only as a member of the Committee for the Promotion of Intellectual Virtue and the Eradication of Intellectual Vice. I shall avoid enlistment as an unpaid PR flack by refraining from mention of the sinner's name, or even his regrettably familiar initials, and refer you for further details only to this article, where it is revealed that our recidivist has this time launched an attack on one Immanuel Kant, no less, bolstered by the arguments of a non-existent Kant scholar who, under another pseudonym, authors "Le Journal de Carla B." for Le Canard enchaîné. Writing as Jean-Baptiste Botul, this prolific satirist produced a book that sits on my shelves, La vie sexuelle d'Emmanuel Kant, which is as amusing as it is fraudulent, from end to end. But apparently our learned ex-Normalien, ex-nouveau philosophe, gravedigger of the cadaver of the left, intrepid war correspondent, and ubiquitous man about town was not let in on the joke and fell for the ruse hook, line, and sinker.

Will this be enough to kill his kudzu reputation once and for all? Alas, probably not.

Lingua Non Franca

French has found its defender in the person of Jean-Pierre Raffarin:

Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the former prime minister who is President Nicolas Sarkozy’s special envoy to promote French, was in New York at the end of last week to insist that its status as one of the two working languages at the UN must be respected.

French sensitivities about the declining role of the language were emphasised mid-week when Gérard Araud, France’s multilingual ambassador to the UN, declined to outline the programme for his country’s presidency of the UN Security Council in English, even as aides scurried to set up translation facilities. “I don’t speak English. Point [full stop]!” Mr Araud told the UN’s mostly English-speaking press corps. “It’s unacceptable,” he said.

Blame Lady Ashton for this latest crisis of French confidence:

Her faltering French, once unthinkable in a senior EU official, has been seized upon by the French media, reflecting concerns in Paris that the diplomatic machinery she is building will be Anglophone.