Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Foot(ball) in Mouth

Poor Rama Yade. She thought to score a few points off the hapless French national soccer team (why not? everyone else is) by denouncing their expensive hotel rooms as a needless luxury in a time of rigor lowered expectations. Alas, her own room had already been booked, and it turned out to be more expensive than the rooms of Les Bleus. What to do? She took a room at the French consulate, but it was too late: the room reserved for her had been prepaid and was non-refundable. Now she has to put up not only with the team's ire but also with the ridicule of Le Canard enchaîné. That's what you get for taking cheap shots on goal.

And let us get real, dear readers: luxury jets and hotels for ministers and football players are no doubt wasteful and unnecessary expenditures, but eliminating them will not fill le trou de la sécu. In any case, the footballers' expenses are covered by private funds. Not so those of the minister and her entourage. Très mal joué, Mme Yade. Worse than Henry's handball, but for which both FIFA and the state could have saved a lot of money by avoiding French participation in the World Cup altogether. Football, as Marcel Mauss could have explained to Mme Yade, belongs to the realm of le don, and rulers who pinch pennies so stingily chip away at their own authority.

Prix Busiris Awarded

By Eolas:

C’est fièrement que l’actuel Garde des Sceaux a repris le flambeau de sa fonction, qui a vocation à la propulser au pinacle des primés du Busiris.
Rappelons que le prix Busiris récompense un mésusage éhonté et intentionnel du droit dans un discours politique, et se définit comme un propos juridiquement aberrant, si possible contradictoire, et prononcé de mauvaise foi dans un but d’opportunité politique. En somme, invoquer le cache sexe du droit pour cacher les parties honteuses de la politique.

Le prix Busiris porte sur la question de la suppression du juge d’instruction. Voici le verbatim, dressé par le greffier en chef de l’Académie Busiris. Les propos en italiques entre parenthèses sont des commentaires de votre serviteur.

Nicolas Demorand : Est-ce que le juge d’instruction sera supprimé ?
Michèle Alliot-Marie : Oui, parce que là, nous sommes dans une obligation européenne. Je vous le disais tout à l’heure, l’obligation européenne, c’est d’avoir un procès équitable (Sur ce point, c’est tout à fait exact : c’est l’article 6 de la Convention de sauvegarde des droits de l’homme et des libertés fondamentales, dite convention européenne des droits de l’homme, CSDH). Le principe du procès équitable, c’est notamment que celui qui mène l’enquête n’est pas celui qui porte un jugement sur cette enquête. Et aujourd’hui, avec le juge d’instruction, nous avons un juge qui à la fois mène l’enquête et est juge de l’enquête. Donc même si ça ne concerne aujourd’hui que 3 ou 4% des enquêtes, nous ne sommes pas en conformité avec le droit européen.

Les bruit que vous entendez, ce sont les mâchoires des juges d’instruction et conseillers de chambres de l’instruction qui me lisent qui viennent de tomber sur leur clavier avant de rouler par terre.
Si je puis me permettre de souffler un conseil à madame le garde des Sceaux, avant de réformer le Code de procédure pénale, il peut être judicieux de le lire.

Controlling the Media

Taken individually, each of these incidents might not be worth dwelling on. Taken together, they paint a troubling picture. Nothing new here, of course. And then there is the perpetual saga of Stéphane Guillon, to which has now been added the Didier Porte episode.


More Eurogloom

Via Yves Smith:

As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports in the Telegraph (hat tip reader Swedish Lex), the French financial group AXA believes the €750 billion rescue package is a mere band-aid:

Ms Zemek [head of global fixed income at AXA] said the rescue had bought a “maximum” of 18 months respite before deeper structural damage hits home, with a “probable” default by Greece setting off a chain reaction across Southern Europe. “It would be the end of the euro as we know it. The long-term implications are at best a split in the eurozone, at worst the destruction of the euro. It is not going to end happily however you slice it,” she said…

Axa said there was “no chance” that the EU’s €750bn “shock and awe” shield will succeed since it treats Club Med’s debt trap as a short-term liquidity crisis…

A number of ex-IMF officials have said the policy is doomed to failure since there is no devaluation or debt relief to offset the ferocious fiscal squeeze, and may endanger the credibility of the Fund itself. The IMF had floated the idea of a debt restructuring but this was blocked by the Brussels.
Smith also links to this story:

"Worse, a UPI story by Martin Walker (hat tip Marshall Auerback) demonstrates not only how firm Trichet’s commitment to this misguided program is, but also how it is creating a rift with the US:
Well-placed European sources say last weekend’s meeting of Group of 20 finance ministers saw a strident row between U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Jean-Claude Trichet, head of the European Central Bank.
It began when Geithner made his appeal for the Europeans to go easy on their austerity program….emergent economies were doing well and the United States was recovering; but both could be derailed if the Europeans slammed on the collective brakes. (One source says that Geithner went on to say that massive European spending cuts would be like adding the deflationary crash of 1931 to the stock market collapse of 1929.)
Trichet, his face red and his voice raised in anger, turned on Geithner. How dare the Americans speak this way, when the whole crisis was the fault of the Americans? It was the U.S. sub-prime mortgage crisis and the bonus-crazed culture of Wall Street that had got the world into this mess. But the Americans were taking no responsibility and very little of the burden….
Trichet made a point of stressing that European spending cuts would actually help the global economy by restoring market confidence, shaken by Greece’s sovereign debt problem and concerns about other members of the euro currency…
Perhaps Geithner was too polite to turn the tables on Trichet and point out that it was the eurozone and its policies that had let Greece drift steadily into such trouble…had also allowed France and Germany to flout the core rule that budget deficits shouldn’t go to more than 3 percent of gross domestic product. The eurozone, by trying to marry a single currency with more than a dozen separate national economic policies, had brought this problem upon itself. Many eminent economists, including the 1989 report for EU Commission President Jacques Delors, had warned specifically that this would be a critical problem.
Yves here. While the blame game makes for good theater, the central point is crucial: the eurozone is adopting disastrous policies to restore market confidence, and appears determined to adhere to them in the face of outright rejection."