Friday, August 24, 2012

An Interesting Chart

The graph below (FT Alphaville via TexExile) depicts real disposable household income growth by decile over the period 2000-2010:

Households in the southern periphery did quite well out of the euro; German households lost across the spectrum. but France is the real outlier here: sharp growth in the bottom and top deciles, losses in the middle. Explanations welcome. (Yes, Sarkozy tax policies no doubt helped the top decile. But what about the bottom 3? The RSA?)

Grexit, Grinnit?

Frau Merkel met with Hollande yesterday, Samaras today. Friendly pictures emerged of both meetings, and friendly words issued. Greece will keep its promises, Samaras said. Merkel said she was "encouraged." "Trust" has been restored. Casual observers may be wondering what's going on, since Greece hasn't, you know, paid any actual bills since it was all doom and gloom a few weeks ago. But "Europe" is enjoying another of its fits of optimism. We made it through the last apocalypse by temporizing, leaders seem to be thinking, so we can make it through the next one. Mario Draghi has left speculators in just enough uncertainty that they aren't prepared to make large negative bets. And so we wait until the next major surprise, which could be the decision of the German Constitutional Court on Sept. 21. Meanwhile, the euro is up against the dollar--naturally, since I just bought tickets to Paris. I'm always on the wrong side of history.

The Socialists at La Rochelle

Is there any spectacle sadder than a French political party meeting when it is already in power? Since the parties these days are mere vehicles for selecting a presidential candidate, there's not much to hold the interest of outsiders when a party whose candidate has already been elected meets. This is not the moment for the ambitious to reveal themselves nor for rebels to propose bold departures from the status quo. So there will be no Sixth Republics this summer, no nights of the long knives (remember when Moscovici was left sitting alone in a café while other former DSKers went over to Aubry?), no Mélenchonesque reminders that the left in power hasn't really accomplished much or even set a clear course.

All the drama will be over at the UMP, where each of two former second bananas will attempt to emerge as the Contender.

But at least the Socialists aren't being threatened with annihilation by hurricane, which could be the fate of the American Republicans if Isaac stays on course.