Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Different Style

No butcher's hooks for Villepin. When he wants to skewer someone, he prefers the verbal rapier. Thus his comment on the news that the prosecutor who tried to nail him--in his view at the behest of Sarkozy--has been promoted to the rank of officier in the Légion d'honneur:

Je vois avec bonheur aujourd'hui pour les intéressés que M. Jean-Claude Marin est nommé officier de la Légion d'honneur (...) Voilà, pour moi, la messe est dite (...) Je ne suggère rien, je dis tout simplement, joyeuses Pâques !"

The Protocols of the Elders of Finance

Paranoia seems to be à l'ordre du jour at the Élysée. Pierre Charon, one of the presidential PR flacks, is suggesting that rumors of Carla and Nick's alleged extramarital flings were planted by unnamed agents from the world of finance in order to "destabilize" Sarkozy in advance of the G20 meetings in 2011. Yes, those financiers will stop at nothing.

Artus: Cut Taxes on Labor, Raise Taxes on Capital

The other day, I cited an interesting paper by Patrick Artus. Today I want to single out the conclusions of that paper, namely, to cut taxes on labor income and increase taxes on capital income. The first recommendation comes from the observation that current stimulus policies are going to have to be curtailed. Further stimulus should focus on increasing domestic demand, which is best done, Artus contends, by increasing the income of workers, whose propensity to spend is greater. Conversely, there is little propensity to invest at present, because of low capacity utilization, so relatively little harm will be done by increasing taxes on income to capital. Artus further recommends increasing taxes on pollution, presumably for the familiar Pigovian reasons. The paper is short and worth reading in its entirety.

Addendum: It looks as though the Obameconomists have decided to take the exact opposite course. Here is Christina Romer:

Instead, she said other smaller drivers would be critical. “It’s going to need to come from our exports. That’s why the president has been pushing his export initiative. It’s going to need to come from business investment, and that’s why measures like a zero capital gains for small businesses, or tax incentives for investment. I think those are the right policy to make sure we get a healthy kind of growth, going forward.”

Her reasoning is that consumers are intent on decreasing their credit exposure and won't spend income increments.

Devoir de réserve

One gendarme was suspended for criticizing the government. Now another has been suspended for writing a poem in support of the first. When I first read this, my reaction was, "Overreaction by a thin-skinned administration." But then I read the poem. Here is an excerpt:

Un nouveau Roy fût nommé, et tout a changé.

Diviser pour mieux régner, tel était son but !

Il y parvint bien, précipitant la chute !
Pour ce faire, il choisit bien parmi les nôtres,

Ceux d’entre eux les plus vénaux, les moins fidèles,

Leur fit tant miroiter, qu’il furent ses “apôtres”.
Ces vendus et parjures aujourd’hui, ont ourdi

D’enterrer sans coup férir notre belle histoire…

De nous taire ils nous ordonnent, arguant: “Tout est dit !”
L’un des nôtres osa parler sans démériter,

se faisant ainsi le râle de notre douleur…

Il fût vite éliminé par ces fossoyeurs !
Aujourd’hui, Sainte Geneviève saigne et pleure,

Je sens bien ses larmes chaudes sous mon képi,

Comme si sur moi SARKOZY faisait son pipi…
Soldats nous sommes, et c’est debout que nous mourrons.

Et à l’instar de CAMBRONNE, “MERDE” nous dirons.

I am reminded of Chévenement's immortal words: "Un ministre, ça ferme sa gueule ou ça démissionne." Un gendarme aussi.