Friday, November 11, 2011

Dr. Doom Prophesies the End of the Euro

Nouriel Roubini, for whom every cloud is lined with lead, foresees the imminent end of the euro.

DSK and Clarence Thomas, même combat

DSK has joined Clarence Thomas in portraying himself as the victim of a "high-tech lynching" ("lynchage médiatique" in DSK's case). His latest grief involves the publication of text messages he allegedly sent to one of the indicted co-conspirators in the Carlton affair. The messages speak of special soirées at private clubs and boîtes coquines here and there in Europe and the US, to which DSK and his friend proposed to go accompanied by petites and demoiselles. As far as I am aware, DSK has not denied sending and receiving these messages. It's the invasion of his privacy that he resents.

Ecology and Economics

I want to call your attention to two very interesting articles by Éloi Laurent in Le Monde, one concerning the "ecological debt" and the other on the role of economics in understanding sustainability.

A Film Reviewer Looks at French Politics

La Conquête has come to the United States. Here is film reviewer Stephen Holden's reaction to this glimpse of French political life:

If “The Conquest” aspires to be a Gallic answer to “The Queen,” it more closely resembles a diluted, somewhat less amusing French answer to “In the Loop.” From its jaundiced, inside-the-bubble perspective, the political game in France is a circus of competing egomaniacs.

I should add that the spectacle, despite its absurdities, doesn’t appear nearly as farcical as the current prelude to the 2012 presidential election in the United States.

Not mistaken on either count.

The "Four Currents" of the Right

Mediapart has an interesting analysis this morning of what it takes to be Sarkozy's new strategy vis-à-vis the UMP. Rather than pretend that no differences exist within the party, he has explicitly authorized four "currents" to express themselves. The very term recalls the good old days of the PS, with its constant inter-current sniping. In the UMP, according to Marine Turchi, we have the following currents: Droite populaire, Droite sociale, Droite humaniste, Réformateurs libéraux Le Figaro offers a similar breakdown, without the latter group. Each of these currents responds to some sort of disappointment with Sarkozy's reign.

The Droite popu' is out to recapture the FN voters who deserted Le Pen père in 2007 but are flocking to Le Pen fille in 2012. The liberal reformers are disappointed that Sarkozy's intended neoliberal rupture (low taxes, benefit reductions, labor market reforms) was curtailed by the crisis. The "humanists" are in fact centrists who cannot stomach the president's heavy-handed law-and-order approach to immigration and security issues. And the Social Right is a misnomer, because its real mission is to reorient social programs away from the poor and toward the middle class, where there are more votes to be had; helping the poor is now stigmatized as "fostering a culture of l'assistanat."

Apparently, a decision has been made that these differences can no longer be concealed behind the kind of soaring rhetoric that Guaino fashioned for Sarkozy in 2012. It's better to let each group attempt to persuade its own portion of the electorate that the president really favors their views but must, for strategic reasons, compromise with the others. Sarkozy himself will try to hover above the squabbling crabs, as Mitterrand did with the PS. In this way, he can run against his own record, which he must do, since it is a record that has left no one on the right fully satisfied.