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French economy - fighting the FT version

by Jerome a Paris Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 03:56:42 AM EST

Sigh... It never ends. Besides the Economist, the FT also had its piece this week-end about how the French economic model is unsustainable.

While not calling for a Sarkozy vote, it goes on to explain why the French have a "theological" belief, belied by facts, that markets do not work well.

Shall we bring facts to the table, then? Because that piece has a number of egregious mistakes or cherry-picked numbers.


(This time, I'm not doing a line-by-line exercise...)


Why France may find its social model exacts too high a price

Far from believing in themselves, France's voters appear in fretful and angry mood, worried about their children's future and anxious about their place in the world. The country's much-vaunted social model, combining generous welfare provisions and stringent labour market protection, is in question as never before. Suburban ghettos have exploded in race riots, economic growth has fallen well below other industrialised nations and successive governments have failed to get a grip on its runaway public finances. In a withering critique of France's economy, Morgan Stanley, the US investment bank, recently declared the country to be the "New Sick Man of Europe".

Getting the point across by mindless repetition. When did we flag the study about the "sick man of Europe"?

But let's get into the meat of it.


Over the past quarter of a century, France has tumbled from eighth to 19th in national rankings of gross domestic product per head. In 1991 French GDP per capita amounted to 83 per cent of the US level. Today it is 71 per cent. The French voters' instinctive belief that they are slipping behind many other nations is objectively true.

This is factually correct, as seen on this graph posted on the FT not long ago:

It is also cherry-picking, as 1991 was the bottom of the US recession and the top of the German reunification boom in Europe, while today is the top of the US housing bubble. If you take 1988 to 2000 (as close to top of the cycle to top of the cycle for both economies as is possible), you get a "drop" from 76% to 74%.

And, more importantly, you need to take that other graph from the FT into account:

I did a rough calculation of what the ration of French GDP to US GDP looks like if you take out the top 0.1% in each country, and you have this:

So the big difference between France and the US (or the UK) is that its rich people did not get as extravagantly rich. Big deal (for the FT and the elites that read it, I guess it is).


Not only do French people enter the workforce later than in most other countries, they then work fewer hours and retire earlier.

And this is bad, how, again?


France has also squandered the talents of millions: unemployment has remained above 8 per cent for the past 25 years. Youth unemployment is particularly high at 22 per cent.

Only 41 per cent of the adult population works, one of the lowest labour participation rates in the world.

Quoting again Laurent Guerby:


In the fourth quarter of 2004, the normalised unemployment rate for men aged 25 to 54 was, according to the OECD, 4.6% in the USA and 7.4% en France. At the same time, for the same group, the employment ratio was 86.3% in the USA and 86.7% in France.
We thus have an unemployment number which is 60% higher in France than in the USA even though more people work in the selected group, which is rather counter-intuitive if we expect the unemployment rate to reflect the situation of the labor market.

One should thus avoid hasty interpretations of unemployment numbers. In fact, the definition of unemployment is built on the - fragile - distinction between the unemployment of an potentially active worker his/her non-employment. Despite the best efforts to normalise this distinction, it remains heavily subjective and thus easily influenceable by various policies which have otherwise no real effect on the labor market.

I suppose it all depends how you define "adult". Is it the goal that everybody above 15 should work?

And as to the youth unemployment rate, the editors of the article make the same usual mistake that everybody makes: the unemployment rate of the youth is not the percentage of young people that are unemployed, it's the percentage of thr active workforce which is unemployed, not quite the same thing, as explained by the statistics editor of the FT:

You'd expect everybody in a newspaper like the FT to know such a basic difference. Jeez.


Yet it is not just its rigid labour market that has hampered the French economy. The creeping expansionism of the French state has also been sucking the lifeblood out of the private sector. France is the only eurozone country that has not reduced the financial weight of the state over the past 10 years. At 54 per cent of GDP, government spending is among the highest in the world.

Again, a flat out error, as demonstrated, again, by a FT graph:

The ONLY country to have increased its government spending in the past years is ... the UK. Next are the US and France. Not coincidentally, perhaps, these are the big developed economies with the best growth rates over the period...

But France's absolute level is higher! True, but as the FT pointed (two years ago), that has no bearing whatsoever on economic performance:

And as to "sucking out the life of the private sector, I'll deviate form my plan to use only FT graphs and will sneak in an OECD table (about the growth of private sector jobs in various countries, 1996-2002):

I'm sure John Thornhill can find "Royaume-Uni" and "Etats-Unis" (hint: look to the left of France)

And hell, this one (about relative job creation in the public and private sector in the UK) can be thrown in as well:

I'll spare you the usual criticism of the 35-hour week and the rigid labor market, except as an excuse to drop yet another nugget about the French not working enough:

Yeah, they don't work enough under rightwing governments (hint: there was a leftwing government from June 1997 to May 2002. Amazing how that fits with the work creation period)

But hey, some economists have an explanation as to why the French are hostile to capitalism:


 in an arresting new book [Le grand méchant marché. Augustin Landier and David Thesmar. Flammarion. 182 pages. €15], two French economists take issue with this standard refrain, arguing that the country's anti-capitalist instincts and resistance to change are the result of historical accident and economic self-interest.

(...)

On many issues, he suggests, ideological prejudice has trumped empirical evidence; many commonly held beliefs are demonstrably untrue. "Economics is a soft science but it is still a science," he says. "Economics is not theology."

< pregnant pause >


Thesmar says that - statistically speaking - French people are wrong to believe that the capitalists are gaining an ever-increasing share of the pie at the expense of workers.

Hmmm... What did the IMF just say in their most recent report, as noted in the Financial Times?


Free trade hits income of workers, says IMF (FT, 5 April 2007)

For the first time in a significant policy document, the IMF says "labour globalisation has negatively affected the share of income going to labour in the advanced economies".

But back to our brilliant economists:


De Gaulle nationalised the banks, mines and electricity and gas companies and established a state planning agency to channel investment. Initially run by Jean Monnet, a Cognac salesman who was later to become principal architect of the European Economic Community, this planning agency pumped money into reconstruction, drawing on the expertise of business leaders, trade unionists and civil servants.

This state interventionism was remarkably successful, spurring the rapid postwar economic revival known as Les Trente Glorieuses.

(...)

the experience of state interventionism has convinced voters that this is how an economy best works, even if modern experience highlights its limitations.

Yeah, strange, isn't it? It worked, people believe that it worked, but now they have to believe those that tell them that it doesn't?


Many of the brightest French students are drawn into public service.

And, agian, that's bad, how? Isn't that precisely what made the State competent and allowed it to be "remarkably successful"? Isn't the issue today that the State is being delegitimized by the permanent discourse about 'taxes bad, government bad, markets good', and that the brightest students no longer go in sufficient numbers to work for the State?


"In a perfectly Cartesian manner, the French have aligned their political aspirations with their economic interests: little preoccupied with growth or the performance of the economy, they are more obsessed by security and the maintenance of the status quo," the authors write. "And those who bet on the growth of the country (the shareholders) are deprived of political support." They add: "We should not deceive ourselves: we are less a village of Gauls resisting globalisation for ideological reasons than a society of creditors that defends its individual interests."

So, if I get this right - we are rich, enjoying ourselves, and refusing the ratrace for ever more (the one that profits only to the top 0.1% of the population in the countries where the model is practiced). And that's bad, how, again? (I mean, for people other than that 0.1%?)

Could there be a link between that attitude and the quality of life that draws so many foreigners to spend time in France?

Display:
But all these articles are out there in force with the election coming.

I intent to send a link to John Thornhill tomorrow, as part of a much shorter LTE. Would anyone have a go at some kind of shorter version of this diary before tomorrow? I'm not sure I'll have much time during the day.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2007 at 06:22:32 PM EST
And I still have not finished my story on the §@&# article of the Economist on Russian gas.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2007 at 06:31:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Shit, I don't know how you manage to wade through this crap and then write something coherent about it. I usually just yell at my screen... I commend you for you bravery, sir!
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 03:10:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is the right wing economic press after. Do they think that installing a more capitalist friendly government will open up the markets in France?

Perhaps there are some big French firms that are ripe for the taking? There has to be some motivation for trying to reform the French economy (aside from the ideologues, that is)?

What am I missing?

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2007 at 06:44:03 PM EST
France is the prime example of a large economy where taxes are high, government is active - and efficient, redistribution is large and mostly effective at reducing poverty ... and yet it is still a thriving economy.

France is the proof that all their neolib theories are full of shit. That's why they have to bring it down in a systematic way.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 03:04:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we just become numbed by the repetitive nature of the FT/Economist "Big Lie" - the canard that if I pay tax and someone mends my broken leg then that someone is not "productive" but is a drain on the "Private Sector".

But if I pay an invoice from a private hospital instead then the someone who fixes my leg IS, magically, now "productive".

The people are the same: it's only the "enterprise model" that's different, but I'm now paying a return to rentier capitalists on top of the actual costs of my treatment.

Now I happen to believe that markets are a more efficient mechanism for allocating resources than centralised planning and "the State".

So I don't believe in a State distinct from its citizens, any more than I believe in the deeply toxic "Private" sector market to which we are accustomed.

What we need IMHO are markets without rentiers and without profits: which Dr Yunus of Grameen Bank calls a "Not for Loss" enterprise model.

This is now actually perfectly possible within a consensual partnership-based enterprise model based upon what the French know as "contrats de societe" (as opposed to our good old Anglo Saxon "contrats de mandat").

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Apr 15th, 2007 at 06:51:13 PM EST
It's not a lie. If the private sector fixes your leg, the profit goes to the City and to Wall St.

If the NHS fixes your leg, the profit - well, there is no profit.

So the real motivation is naked, wobbly-jowled, snout-smacking greed, mixed in with some old-fashioned quasi-imperial xenophobia.

The hatred of France and of socialist economies is based on the fact that state management makes it harder to strip-mine economies for personal gain.

Money recirculates to workers instead, which is not what should happen at all.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2007 at 07:25:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "Big Lie" arises from the fact that individuals in the Public Sector are essentially DEFINED as a "drain" on the Private Sector.

In the same way there can be no such thing as "Public Sector" investment because all "investment" is by definition "Private" (ie through a Corporation).

So the Public Sector may only borrow (from Private Banks) to invest - hence fantasies like Gordon Brown's "Golden Rule", National Debts,and the rest of the surreal nonsense that passes for national accounts.

It's all bollocks of course, since there are a couple of ways that the Public Sector may maintain ownership of assets and still bring in long term "investment".

But you won't read about them in the FT,the Economist or any publication which looks to banks for advertising.

 

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Apr 15th, 2007 at 08:10:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Worth noting that this:

Over the past quarter of a century, France has tumbled from eighth to 19th in national rankings of gross domestic product per head.

and this:

Not only do French people enter the workforce later than in most other countries, they then work fewer hours and retire earlier.

are related. Assuming of course, that people value their leisure time :) Work to live, not live to work.

What I would like to see is a comparison over time based on the UNs Human Development Index or some of those subjective measures of happiness. Where did Europe stand relative to the US in 1980 compared to now?

Ah yes, here we are:

by TGeraghty on Sun Apr 15th, 2007 at 07:46:23 PM EST
Interesting chart for sure.  We knew of course that GDP per capita is higher in the US.  It's probably not surprising to most of us that Economic well being is however much better in France, due to the much better social programs available, for example in healthcare.

But the US are the same on the Happiness/Life Satisfaction scale.  Wonder if those are actually two different measures, or different names for the same thing.  Surprising they would have a chart with only 2 of the 3 measures being labeled the same.  

Frankly, I do think the Life Satisfaction level is high in the US, and I'm not surprised to see equivalency with France, where the measure would intutitively seem high to me as well.  it would be interesting to see how this measures for the lower classes--I'm not so sure our intuitive feel that the French measure would be higher is correct.

by wchurchill on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 01:50:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...it goes on to explain why the French have a "theological" belief, belied by facts, that markets work well.

Is that what you really meant? (As opposed to "State intervention works well", for example...)

Sorry I'll have no time to help edit this.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 01:57:10 AM EST
corrected.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 02:01:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Dear Sir,

There are a number of factual errors in John Thornhill's article about France's economy ("Why France may find its social model exacts too high a price") which I hope you will correct in a forthcoming edition.

  1. Your graph about youth unemployment incorrectly states that the 22% refers to the percentage of young people that are unemployed, when it is in fact the percentage of the active young population, something quite different, as your colleague Simon Briscoe pointed out in a very explicit grpah published on 20 April 2006 and attached to this message;

  2. Your statement that "France is the only eurozone country that has not reduced the financial weight of the state over the past 10 years", is also incorrect as well as highly misleading in that it refers only to the eurozone, when the two most significant examples of countries with actual increases in public spending are the USA and the UK (as demonstrated in the attached graph, from your 19 September 2006 edition) - the two economies usually shown as an example for France and, not coincidentally maybe, those with higher than average growth over that period.

I look forward to your corrections.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 04:40:59 AM EST
Re: point #2 -- have you actually established that there are other eurozone countries that have "not reduced the financial weight of the state" in the past decade?  Because you're saying that the statement is incorrect and misleading, but as far as I can tell you've only given evidence that it's misleading, but not that it's factually incorrect.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 08:04:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not obvious that France has not reduced the weight of the State. It's pretty close, but the statement is not correct per se about France.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 08:16:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the other countries in the Eurozone show a marked decrease (which from the average in the graph, appears to be the case) then I'm not sure that's a very strong point, at least when asking for a correction.  It's a point that could be made in an LTE, but I don't think they're going to run a corrective unless you can give them some strong evidence that it's factually incorrect.  What are the actual numbers for France?  Because on the chart, it looks like it's right about the same level now as 10 years ago.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 08:25:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]

In John Thornhill's article about France's economy ("Why France may find its social model exacts too high a price"), the accompanying graph about youth unemployment incorrectly states that the 22% refers to the percentage of young people that are unemployed, when it is in fact the percentage of the active young population. The two are quite different concepts, as your colleague Simon Briscoe pointed out in a very explicit graph published on 20 April 2006 and attached to this message.

[insert graph]

I hope you will be able to publish a corrected version of that graph.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 09:51:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Dear Mr Thornhill,

If you remember, we exchanged correspondence late last year (started about your article suggesting that Bush was really French), and that ultimately led to an article of mine on European energy policy being published in the FT Op-Ed pages. So I hope that you will take this new letter in such a context - whereby I'm quite grateful for your willingess to listen to your readers and to give me in particular a chance to speak up in your columns.

I a mwriting this time because I have a lot of comments to make to your article published today about France ("Why France may find its social model exacts too high a price"). In addition to the request (which I copied you in)to the FT editors for corrections on a couple of factual errors for which I am not sure who is to blame, I'd like to flag a number of other facts - all drawn from the pages of the Financial Times - that give a pretty different perspective on the French economy. I've made a fairly detailed commentary of your article on my website, the European Tribune (see here:
http://www.eurotrib.com/comments/2007/4/15/182027/868), but I'd like to just flag out just one item, about the supposed relative decline of French GDP per capita.

As you know, and as the FT, to its credit, regularly writes about, GDP growth in the US and the UK has been accompanied by increasing inequality and stagnant income for the middle classes:

[insert top 0.1% graph]

Thus economic performance for most people is quite similar in France as in the UK - except that actually the poor are less poor, and in particular poor kids are not so numerous (as a recent UNICEF study showed). That would seem to be an acceptable result for the price of not letting the very rich getting even more extravagantly rich.

The fact that the French economic model is systematically described as a failure, when it simply focuses more - and more effectively - on social cohesion can be seen as a very ideological attempt to justify a new class war by a very small (but very rich) elite which controls a high portion of global capital and sees workers, especially middle calss ones, as an expensive cost item on their balance sheet - and France, which shows that a different way of doing things is possible, as the biggest obstacle to the triumph of their (shortsighted) ideas.

We are all soaked on a permanent basis by gloomy, or even catastrophist descriptions of the French economy, but the statistics in the very pages of your own paper can lead to very different conclusions, if one chooses to do so. I wonder why that choice is so rarely made (the choice to worry about lack of healthcare coverage instead of the fact that 'too few' seniors work), and I would hope that voices carrying that choice could be heard more frequently in the FT.

Sincerely Yours, etc...



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 06:41:04 AM EST
Just a few quick reactions...

Needs a little cleaning up, a few typos ("I am writing" sted "I a mwriting" and "workers, especially middle-class ones," sted "workers, especially middle calss ones") and one or two grammatical issues (should be "for the price of not letting the very rich GET even more...").

I think the LTE page is unlikely to actually publish a graph.  Maybe I'm wrong, but most papers wouldn't.  In an op-ed column, you might have better luck with that, but even then it would be rare.  So you may want to summarize what the graph says in a brief sentence, e.g. "As was shown in the FT's own story TITLE, published DATE, blah de blah de blah..."

This final section isn't really working for me at all:

... can lead to very different conclusions, if one chooses to do so. I wonder why that choice is so rarely made (the choice to worry about lack of healthcare coverage instead of the fact that 'too few' seniors work), and I would hope that voices carrying that choice could be heard more frequently in the FT.

I would prefer "can lead to very different conclusions."  Period.  But then your "choice" wording really doesn't work, which I'm not sure it does anyway.  The parenthetical statement is unclear and distracting in that position -- it should be made earlier.

I'd recommend some reworking of that paragraph.  I'll see what I can come up with, but in the meantime I thought I'd toss these other things out there.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 08:18:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome wrote:

We are all soaked on a permanent basis by gloomy, or even catastrophist descriptions of the French economy, but the statistics in the very pages of your own paper can lead to very different conclusions, if one chooses to do so. I wonder why that choice is so rarely made (the choice to worry about lack of healthcare coverage instead of the fact that 'too few' seniors work), and I would hope that voices carrying that choice could be heard more frequently in the FT.

My attempt:

We are all continually soaked in gloomy, even catastrophist descriptions of the French economy, but the statistics in your very own pages can lead to very different conclusions, if one chooses to make them.  I wonder why that choice is so rarely made [in these pages??], and I hope that the FT will give voice more often to those who make that choice, and who refuse to view the French system as irretreivably doomed.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 08:41:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I left out the part about health care and senior-citizen unemployment because, while it would be relevant to a discussion about editorial decisions, it's tangential to the specific point, which is editorial decisions regarding the French economy.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 08:47:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I hear you! Let me try again...


We are all soaked on a permanent basis by gloomy, or even catastrophist descriptions of the French economy, but the statistics in the very pages of your own paper can lead to very different conclusions, if one so chooses. I wonder why that choice is so rarely made, and I would hope that voices carrying that more optimistic outlook could be heard more frequently in the FT.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 08:54:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your end is better than mine, but I still don't like "on a permanent basis," because I think what you mean is that it's continual.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 09:23:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree, and think "We are all continually..." is better than "on a permanent basis".
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 10:31:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I fear the before-last paragraph is where Mr. Thornbill will just stop reading or will start assuming that you are a surrogate of PS or a party further left.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 08:59:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would put just this sentence to the previous paragraph and drop the rest:

The fact that the French economic model is systematically described as a failure, when it simply focuses more - and more effectively - on social cohesion can be seen as a very ideological attempt to denigrate a country which shows that a different way of doing things is possible.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 09:05:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, that works.  It also tidily takes care of the fact that the entire paragraph is one single (very long) sentence.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 09:22:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Dear Mr Thornhill,

If you remember, we exchanged correspondence late last year (started about your article suggesting that Bush was really French), and that ultimately led to an article of mine on European energy policy being published in the FT Op-Ed pages. So I hope that you will take this new letter in such a context - whereby I'm quite grateful for your willingess to listen to your readers and to give me in particular a chance to speak up in your columns.

I am writing this time because I have a lot of comments to make to your article published today about France ("Why France may find its social model exacts too high a price"). In addition to the request (which I copied you in) to the FT editors for a correction of a factual error in the graph accompanying your article, I'd like to point you towards a fairly detailed commentary of your article on my website, the European Tribune (http://www.eurotrib.com/comments/2007/4/15/182027/868), and flag two items:

  1. Your statement that "France is the only eurozone country that has not reduced the financial weight of the state over the past 10 years", is quite misleading, when the two most significant examples of countries with significant increases in public spending are the USA and the UK (as demonstrated in the attached graph, from your 19 September 2006 edition) - the two economies usually shown as an example for France and, not coincidentally maybe, those with higher than average growth over that period.

  2. With respect to the supposed relative decline of French GDP per capita, it should be pointed out (and the FT, to its credit, regularly writes about it) that GDP growth in the US and the UK has been accompanied by increasing inequality and stagnant income for the middle classes:

[insert top 0.1% graph]

If you strip out the top 0.1%, relative GDP per capita numbers are extremely stable over the last 25 years for France, the UK and the US. Other than for a tiny elite, economic performance for most people is thus quite similar in France as in the US or UK - except maybe that there are fewer poor people in France, a trade off that should not be brushed off so easily.

The fact that the French economic model is systematically described as a failure, when it simply focuses more - and more effectively - on social cohesion can be seen as an attempt to denigrate a country which shows that a different way of doing things is possible.

I hope that voices carrying that more optimistic view of France can be heard more frequently in the FT, and I'd certainly be willing to volunteer to the task!

Sincerely Yours, etc...



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 09:47:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A couple of minor nits in the first paragraph:

"If you remember, we exchanged correspondence late last year (it started about your article suggesting that Bush was really French), and that ultimately led to an article of mine on European energy policy being published in the FT Op-Ed pages. So I hope that you will take this new letter in that context - in which I'm quite grateful for your willingness to listen to your readers and to give me in particular a chance to speak up in your columns."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 10:44:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The creeping expansionism of the French state has also been sucking the lifeblood out of the private sector. France is the only eurozone country that has not reduced the financial weight of the state over the past 10 years. At 54 per cent of GDP, government spending is among the highest in the world.

It seems to me that this statement is only somewhat manipulative, no? Your graph supports all of those claims.
by Travis (stnemmoc at gmail dot com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 08:22:19 AM EST
I must admit I had missed the "eurozone" restrictor when I wrote the diary. So it's not completely incorrect, just highly misleading.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 08:31:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I asked a question up thread about what the conservative financial press wanted France to do.

I think I've found the answer. (Jerome's reply about ideology is only part of it.)

I'm going to coin another aphorism. In place of "all politics is local", I propose "all opinions are local".

It seems that every time a pundit speaks it is their own self interest that they are really supporting. The conservative press is generally comprised of the elite. Thomas Friedman is married to an heiress as is neo-con former owner of the "New Republic" Martin Peretz, the "National Review" was started by wealthy preppy William Buckley, etc.

Those that are not themselves wealthy usually are paid by wealthy interests. This include most of the journalists in the conservative media as well as all those at "think tanks".

I've found a recent study by two Canadian economists which relates the degree of taxation with the level of well being of the society. Those countries with the highest tax collections as a percentage of GDP are also those with the best social conditions. The one at the bottom in both cases - the US.

Now when we look at the tax rate we see the following:
A country like the US has a tax revenue as a percent of GDP of 28%.
Some other countries:
Spain 33.0
United Kingdom 35.5
Germany 36.5
France 43.4
Sweden 50.5

So what the right wing financial press wants is to lower their own taxes. It's all about self interest...

Here's the link to the study, lots of eye opening charts, but I don't know how to extract them, so I'll leave that to more proficient hands.

Benefits and Costs of Taxation (PDF)
   

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 09:56:33 AM EST
It's a class war. Marx had this Eureka 160 years ago or so.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 10:02:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
anglophone article castigating the anglophone press for its anti-French absurdities

seems to me France is being demonised for much the same reasons as Cuba:  no one must be publicly seen to offer any social system that serves the interests of financial elites less narrowly than the neocon model.  if such a system is offered, then horror stories must be invented about it to make sure that the victims of the neocon model do not look over the fence and ask inconvenient questions like "why can't we have decent health care, trains and schools?"

coming soon:  the US embargo on France and hamfisted attempts to assassinate its president with poisoned Brie?

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Wed Apr 18th, 2007 at 06:58:23 PM EST


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