Thursday, October 31, 2013

Boston-Area Readers: Talk Monday at CES

On Monday, Nov. 4, economist Eloi Laurent of the OFCE and Sciences-Po will give a talk entitled "Distrustful, Miserable, and Fearful: Meet the French," at the Harvard Center for European Studies, 27 Kirkland St., Cambridge. I will be the discussant. The talk is scheduled for 4:15-6 PM in the Goldman Room. I hope to see some of you there.

Germany Remains Adamant in Face of Record EU Unemployment

The US Treasury has accused Germany of "deflationary bias" in its economy policy, but Germany angrily rejected the charge, saying that nothing in its economic policy required adjustment. Meanwhile, European unemployment remains at a record high level. One might think that this would give the Germans pause ...

The Ecotax Scandal: A Modern-Day Tax Farmer Will Collect a Penalty of 1 Billion Euros

Mediapart has another scoop. The now-infamous "ecotax," which would have forced truckers to pay for every mile traveled, was to have been collected not by the state but by a private company called Ecomouv. The state signed a contract with Ecomouv during the Sarkozy years, which called for the payment of a penalty of 1 billion euros if the tax should be withdrawn for any reason, to compensate Ecomouv for infrastructural investments it would have had to make to prepare for collection (all trucks were to be equipped with GPS devices that could be monitored remotely to tally up the miles driven). Now, of course, the tax has been rescinded in the face of violent opposition (see previous post), and the state will be obliged to pay the contractual penalty for non-performance.

Even more interesting is the fact that any number of politicians of the Right who have been vociferously critical of the Hollande government's actions in recent days signed off on the Ecomouv contract: Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Valérie Péresse, and Jean-Louis Borloo, to name a few.

It will be interesting, no doubt, to learn more about the details of this incredible contract, which recalls the tax farmers of the Ancien Régime. What cronyism was involved in the original award, for example? Stay tuned.