Thursday, November 10, 2011

France's Credit Rating

S&P "accidentally" downgraded France's AAA rating today, causing a 7 basis-point rise in yield. Meanwhile, the less well-known Egan-Jones rating agency said that it was going to downgrade France from AA- to A+ or perhaps even lower.

The UMP Solves the Problem of Education


Vous connaissez Christine Maso ? Non ? Moi non plus, jusqu'à ce que j'assiste mardi à Bobino à la Convention UMP sur l'éducation. Et que Christine Maso, une prof de maternelle assise à la tribune, propose une loi pour interdire le tutoiement des petits, rendant donc obligatoire le vouvoiement, histoire d'imposer le respect...
As in, vous êtes un pauvre con, cher maître ...


"A serious violation of human rights." This is the conclusion of the European Committee on Social Rights regarding France's expulsion of Roms in 2010. It will be interesting to see if François Hollande takes this up as a campaign theme. He should, because the expulsions were not only unjust and heavy-handed but a demonstration of the Sarkozy regime's cynical exploitation of situations of distress. The problem for the opposition is that the expulsions were popular, as dealing harshly with scapegoats can sometimes be, even if no real problems are solved. But here is a chance for Hollande to show some "bravitude."

The Fixers

Via Henry Farrell:

I’m at a workshop, unable to blog properly, and saving my eurozone energies for revisions to a piece for The Nation (the ending of which has changed dramatically twice, and which is likely to change dramatically again before its Friday deadline). But this piece in the FT is not very far from what I would be writing if I had the time.
Apparently, the answer to the huge problems of the eurozone is the replacement of elected premiers with economic experts – approved officials dropped from European institutions. In Greece, Lucas Papademos, a former vice-president of the European Central Bank, has been pushed hard for the job; in Italy, Mario Monti, another economist and a former EU Commissioner, is much mentioned. They may lack a democratic mandate but they’re fantastically well regarded in Frankfurt. It remains to be seen if either will clinch the role. But what exactly is the great attraction of technocrats?
If ever modern Europe needed brave, charismatic leaders to carry their nation through turbulent times, it would seem to be now. Instead, it is as if the crew of the Starship Enterprise had concluded that Captain Jean-Luc Picard is no longer the man for the job and that it is time to send for the Borg. Efficient, calculating machines driving through unpopular measures across the eurozone with the battle cry “resistance is futile” are apparently the order of the day. Faced with a deep crisis, once-proud European nations are essentially preparing to hand over power to Ernst & Young.

Not Good News

As eurozone contagion spreads to Italy, the clouds thicken over France:

But on Wednesday, the spread of 10-year French government bonds over their German equivalent rose to a euro area high of around 140 basis points. “Contagion” is not just a movie.