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I will add that in this case, France seemedc to me to be completely alone in the european landscape to ask for an end to austerity. This may be due to my lack of knowledge of local politics in other countries, but I am under the impression that every european country, including those suffering from austerity, embraced the austerian policies with a rather enthusiastic behavior.

Even in France, a lot of people are actually complaining that the policies implemented by Hollande are not austerian enough. I know for sure that some of my former colleagues would vote in favor of a cut in public servant salaries for example...

by Xavier in Paris on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 05:26:52 AM EST
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That's why in France it will be Le Pen and not Mélenchon the one in position to go to the second round of the 2017 presidential election...
by Xavier in Paris on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 05:28:02 AM EST
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"but I am under the impression that every european country, including those suffering from austerity, embraced the austerian policies with a rather enthusiastic behavior. "

Well, their governments anyway. I did not get the impression that the whole countries were in agreement.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 05:59:19 AM EST
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The cult of the balanced budget is strong.
by IM on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 09:57:41 AM EST
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Xavier in Paris:
France seemedc to me to be completely alone in the european landscape to ask for an end to austerity

But in a half-hearted way, totally disconnected from France's real hitting power in the EU.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 06:03:36 AM EST
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OK, France could have gone all-in and did not, and I resent that it did not. Yes, there is an element of hypocrisy involved -Hollande probably never really meant what he campaigned on and paid only lip service to some of his promises. Yes, it is shocking that no more noise was made when Weidmann (or Schauble) went way over their remits.

But EVERYONE else was pushing the other way. Yes, France has a bigger hitting power than was often suggested, but this would have been single-handedly obtaining something with essentially no pro quo. It is far from certain that it would have been an unqualified success.

To say that France has by some distance the hypocrisy prize because it did not resist strongly enough when nobody gave indication on joining them should they push harder seems somewhat excessive.
Because that means being much, much more hypocritical than a country whose business model is based on supplier credit but treats debt as a sin, while having been the biggest debt reneger of the 20th Century to boot; that repeats pacta sunt servanda despite having taken the lead in violating them when it suited them, including a default event in 1993 when it refused to apply the clauses that were postponed until reunification in its debt restructure; that insists that the ECB fights inflation despite failing to hit its inflation target on the low side for years; that demands that everyone be a net exporter; that keeps lecturing the whole world that cutting public spending is the way to growth despite this being proven wrong (and not making any sense in the first place); that does its best to impose that even if a country does implement the crazy budgetary adjustments in the (misguided) treaties they rammed through, it be done only in the way they like, aka reducing public spending, even though nothing in the treaty says anything about it.

That takes some doing.


Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 06:36:48 AM EST
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Yes, well, I have always seen Germany as the prime mover in the euro-mess, and I agree with all your points on that. But, since the famous Franco-German axis has always been supposed to be the locomotive of EU policy, it's fair to say that France has singularly failed to maintain its place and to punch its weight. Whether that makes France equally to blame along with Germany seems to me a matter for quibbling.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 07:14:29 AM EST
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And Piketty is aiming his text at a French audience so it makes sense to target French agency rather then German.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 08:19:40 AM EST
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The problem is that dominant ideologies, such as austerity, have to be challenged publicly and effectively by high profile individuals, preferably by national leaders and preferably by ridicule. This has been needed since before 2008, though the specifics have changed. Imagine J.K. Galbraith or J. M. Keynes speaking through and for the President of France and other countries. If half or more of the electorate first laugh and then get angry things can change.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 11:39:02 AM EST
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And France has the best-developed satire media and is in the best position to provide the ridicule.
by rifek on Wed Jan 28th, 2015 at 12:35:29 PM EST
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Unfortunately, as we have seen recently, it doesn't export well.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jan 29th, 2015 at 06:21:59 AM EST
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No, it really doesn't. Again, we find the French and British senses of humour to be closer than one would think.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 29th, 2015 at 08:32:25 AM EST
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Cyrille:
But EVERYONE else was pushing the other way.

Looking from a smaller member state, and one without euro, I would say that for the Swedish political elite (red or blue) the EU have three major benefits:

  • A way to push special interests
  • Career possibilities
  • Photo-ops with major leaders

Austerity is neither here nor there. It fits with the common wisdom, but so would expansive financial policy (the common wisdom is not unified). All the three bullet points are however dependent on keeping on the good side of the powers that be in the union. So as long as everybody is pro austerity they will be (at least abroad).

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 08:18:35 AM EST
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The Euro as an opportunity for polite corruption via suborned political elites!

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 11:40:53 AM EST
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The previous Swedish government was very much at the forefront of EU-level moves to pressurize Southern European states on debt and deregulation in general.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 01:54:26 PM EST
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Yes, but it is a loss for the Swedish export sector when the euro is depressed versus the krona. And Sweden is export surplus mini-Germany sans the currency union. So the gain from being attack dogs for the powers that be is political capital in the EU, better career opportunities in the EU and time in Swedish media grand-standing next to Merkel while playing on stereotypes of lazy Southerners.

Had the policy been different in the EU, the previous governments actions would have reflected that. Or at least that is my take on it.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 02:56:03 PM EST
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