Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Push From the Left

Left-wing economists, from the heterodox Économistes atterrés to the more mainstream Thomas Piketty, are urging François Hollande to take a bolder line on economic policy and set himself apart from the apparent European consensus in favor of austerity. Hollande's speech on the subject showed some cautious willingness to accept their advice. Meanwhile, Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, warned of a "lost decade" ahead and said that the global economy is entering a period of turmoil and danger.

Elsewhere, Sarkozy accused Hollande of "demagoguery" for proposing a 30% reduction in the salaries of the president and ministers. After Baroin's outburst in the Assembly yesterday, it seems that the UMP's strategy is to goad the Socialists into responding intemperately to provocations in the hope of casting the opposition as a party of irresponsible hotheads, in contrast to the newly imperturbable president (although it must be said that Baroin looked far from imperturbable in the chamber yesterday--indeed, with his eyes ablaze and forelock flapping, he looked the part of the quintessential political wild man, a far cry from his usual demeanor, which reminds me of a slightly bored clubman languidly awaiting his turn on the tennis court).