Thursday, December 9, 2010

Paris Real Estate Bubble?

The city may not be able to clear the snow, but that isn't stopping Saudi princes and Russian mafiosi from driving up real estate prices. If I were you, I'd look into which banks are lending the money for these purchases and put my savings elsewhere. Hasn't anyone learned anything from the past few years? A 20% annual increase in real estate prices is not normal, people. It's not a good sign. It suggests a disturbance in the flow of capital as severe as the atmospheric disturbance that has sent chill air, ice, and snow over France this past week. Watch out! Bubbles burst. And don't listen to any economist who tells you we don't know how to identify bubbles. They're like pornography according to the US Supreme Court (the bubbles, I mean, not the economists--we have other choice words for them). If you're a decent person (i.e., not a loan officer or a real estate broker), you know it when you see it.

Snow Fun at All

Watching the France2 news last night--a half hour devoted almost entirely to mammoth traffic jams in and around Paris caused by a 10cm snowfall--I wondered if there would be any political consequences. Among American mayors in the northeastern United States, it is an article of faith that if you don't get the snow off the streets, you won't be re-elected. But who is responsible for snow removal in France? (Sorry to ask such a mundane question. I know I'm supposed to be an "expert," but "expert" knowledge sometimes fails to burrow down to the nitty gritty of daily life, and I live 3,000 miles away, in a New England enjoying a remarkably balmy December.) Is it the city, the region, le Département de Chasse-Neige auprès du Ministère de la Ville et de l'Urbanisme, ou je ne sais quoi encore? Will someone be blamed for this? I mean, a region of 12 million people that can be paralyzed by 10cm of snow and freezing rain looks like a political, not a natural, disaster from where I sit. What about it, Parisians? Is the blood boiling over there sufficiently to melt ice, or are you just accepting this as one of the inconveniences of modern life?

Il parle bien

A very interesting comment by Bernard Girard on the nature of Sarkozy's appeal to certain observers.