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Le Parisien: L'incroyable histoire de la naissance des 3% de déficit (28.09.2012)
Ce haut fonctionnaire, Guy Abeille, l'avoue aujourd'hui : les 3 %, inventés en une heure un soir de juin 1981, ne reposaient sur aucune théorie économique mais, pour cette raison sans doute, il convint parfaitement à François Mitterrand, qui avait exigé, pour faire barrage à ses ministres trop dépensiers, un chiffre rond et facile à retenir. Et voici comment le fondement de notre politique budgétaire, imposé comme une règle d'airain à toute l'Europe, a vu le jour... au doigt mouillé.
The Incredible Story of the Birth of the 3% Deficit
This high functionary, Guy Abeille, confesses today: the 3%, invented in an hour one evening in June 1981, did not rest on any economic theory but, no doubt for this very reason, it was perfectly convenient for François Mitterrand, qho had demanded, to rein in his spendthrift ministers, a round number easy to remember. Behold how the foundation of our budget policy, imposed as an iron rule on all of Europe, saw the light of day... with a finger in the air.


I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 07:00:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(I should read more French.)

Finger in the air indeed.

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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 07:37:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The expression "au doigt mouillé" means testing for wind direction by sticking up a wet finger.

In this case, sticking up where might be interesting to know.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 09:31:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was at a loss translating that. How would you have done it?

Maybe "how [it] saw the light of day... out of their sleeve/thin air/their arse"?

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 09:47:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I regularly hear native (UK) colleagues say "finger in the air", so that's probably the best translation for the expression by itself.

In context I (not a native speaker) would say "out of thin air" is the best current phrase and fits with the rest of the sentence.

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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 09:54:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know, it's not easy to translate.

By rule of thumb?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 10:39:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Otherwise it evokes for me the alternative French expression "à vue de nez" (colloquially "au pif"), that is, in Occitan/Catalan "a vista de nas" and in Castilian (I think) "a vista de nariz".

But English doesn't use noses like that.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 10:43:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there's some method to the madness in the case of 'a rule of thumb', which is not the case with a licked finger in the wind.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 02:53:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
F*$!
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 07:48:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, really!

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 09:24:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess we should be grateful that the didn't pick 0%...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 10:54:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Presseurop: The secret of 3% finally revealed (28 September 2012)
Guy Abeille, age 62, a former senior Budget Ministry official and "the inventor of the concept, endlessly repeated by all governments whether of the right or the left, that the public deficit should not exceed 3% of the national wealth," told the newspaper -
We came up with the 3% figure in less than an hour. It was a back of an envelope calculation, without any theoretical reflection. Mitterrand needed an easy rule that he could deploy in his discussions with ministers who kept coming into his office to demand money. [...] We needed something simple. 3%? It was a good number that had stood the test of time, somewhat reminiscent of the Trinity.
The daily remarks on the strange character of this anecdote: "In an irony of history, the technocrats in Brussels drew on the legendary 3% for inspiration when creating another rule [stipulated by the new Fiscal Compact], just as factitiously Cartesian, which obliges states to limit their structural deficits to 0.5%. Why not 1% or 2% ? No one really knows."


I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 09:28:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We needed something simple. 3%? It was a good number that had stood the test of time, somewhat reminiscent of the Trinity.

Just wow.
There is material here for several books on political theory, sociology, anthropology ...

The wikipedia article on Abeille links to this from 2010:
Pourquoi le déficit à 3% du PIB est une invention 100%... française

J'en viens au seuil magique - pour un peu, chamanique - du déficit à 3% du PIB.


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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 10:56:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Speaking of the Trinity...

Look at that effort of thirty billion euros of debt reduction in the French budget (nice round number!)

  • 10 billion in spending cuts (the father?)
  • 10 billion from business (the son?)
  • 10 billion from households (holy moley!)


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 11:00:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why do we pay these people again?

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 12:36:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's sometimes cheaper to pay them directly than to have them form think tanks.

(Not always, so remember to ask me about each case individually.)

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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 03:43:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An American strategic analyst I met briefly at a conference way back in Copenhagen insisted that 3.18 was a magic number of stability in 'economics': he had some algorithm based on sustainable growth, paying down debt through inflation and the fact that 3.18% growth would represent a doubling in 22 years i.e. a generation.  He never once mentioned chaos theory, but (and here I am open to brickbats) in complex dynamic systems there does appear to be algorithmic significance.

I'm not impressed by generational theories since the birth rate in most societies is fairly stable during a couple of decades. 'Generation' as in 'Talking about my...'. Generations continuously overlap, but the major phenomena that influence the culture of a society (pan-generationally): Depression, WWII, the Beatles, Thatcher, or whatever, do have an impact/aftermath that is maintained within a certain period (22 years?), after which the phenomena tend to become museified.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 01:16:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
22 years i.e. a generation

Yeah, and 22 = 2*11.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 01:25:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I shall leave others to point out the significance of fractal dimensions - it's beyond my pay grade.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 01:34:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which goes to prove all even numbers can be derived as the sum of two primes.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 01:47:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do not drink and derive.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 02:51:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Algorithm:  A process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations

The canonical definition of the Mandlebrot Set:

Is an algorithm.  

So is the Feigenbaum Function.  But whether one "gets" this:

this:

or this:

depends on one's interpretive stance.

[Note:  the last is a sculpture presented to Dr. Feigenbaum by Stephen Wolfram.]

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 01:41:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's good to know that obfuscational colleagues can rise to the occasion ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 01:49:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not as such:

ABSTRACT. We provide a definition of an attractor to a multivalued iterated function system (IFS) modelled on previous ones existing in the literature (e.g. [Hale, J. K.: Asymptotic Behavior of Dissipative Systems. Math. Surveys Monographs 25, Amer. Math. Soc, Providence, RI, 1988]). Such an attractor expressing asymptotic behaviour of a system does not need to be invariant. Then, as a remedy there serves the uniform Hausdorff upper semicontinuity It was recently shown that condensing multifunctions possess a maximal invariant set which is
compact. The theorem ensuring the existence of attractors considered here also exploits compactness-like hypothesis slightly stronger than condensity, namely contractivity with respect to measure of noncompactness. Hence contractivity in measure and uniform Hausdorff upper semicontinuity together do guarantee existence of a compact attractor which is maximal invariant and unique. We also supply examples (e.g. unbounded attractor) and state further questions.

:-þ
pfffffffttttttttthhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 02:03:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I shall introduce you to my friends in Finland as a nutter. It's expected of me.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 02:16:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nutter?  Not as such.  I very seldom go gathering nuts.

I prefer to think of myself as one who works on the leading edge, expanding the boundaries of what is possible with human/cybernetic Information Systems:



She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 at 02:29:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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