Those Frenchified Cautions on Anglo-Saxonomics

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 1/08/2009 06:54:00 PM
Let me begin by saying that I have nothing against the French in the Bushian vernacular. My uncle is a Frenchman and he is the dearest man you can possibly imagine. When it comes to French government pronouncements, however, I tend to be more cautious. The genius of French diplomacy in the postwar years has been its ability to punch above its weight. Do not forget, mon ami, that diplomacy is a French specialty par excellence. Take, for instance, recent pronouncements by Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Nicolas Sarkozy on civilizing capitalism:
The head of Europe's biggest economy said Thursday that world leaders should be looking at the massive U.S. deficit and other economic imbalances, not just problems caused by financial markets, as they debate a new global order.

Speaking at a conference in Paris on the future of capitalism, German Chancellor Angela Merkel singled out the American budget deficit and China's current account surplus — the difference between exports and imports — as problems upsetting the global economy. "We would be making an error if we were content to look solely at financial markets," she said. She deplored huge debts that governments are accumulating to spend their way out of the present crisis. But she said she recognized, for the moment, that "there is no other possibility..."

Merkel said the International Monetary Fund has not managed to regulate global capitalism, and she called for the creation of an economy body at the United Nations, similar to the Security Council, to judge government policy.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, leading the two-day conference with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, blamed financial speculators for encouraging a system fueled on debt. He called financial capitalism based on speculation "an immoral system" that has "perverted the logic of capitalism." It's a system where wealth goes to the wealthy, where work is devalued, where production is devalued, where entrepreneurial spirit is devalued," he said. But no more: "In capitalism of the 21st century, there is room for the state," he said.
Merkel I have few qualms about and I hold her in very high regard for obvious reasons. Meanwhile, Sarkozy makes the right noises--I'll give him that. We even sound alike, to some extent. However, before you buy the Sarkozy version hook, line, and sinker, I must warn you of another French diplomatic specialty: couching a self-serving agenda in altruistic rhetoric. After all, this is the same guy who wanted to make European SWFs to prevent Middle Eastern and Asian ones from buying into French companies. Are we all French national champions now? It wouldn't be a very congenial global political economy if it were so.

This has been an automated warning from the IPE Zone about the French siren song. Please don't be lulled and...have a nice day.