Archive for March, 2010

American University Clubs (AUC) of France events this week

AUC has announced the following events for this week, put on by different organizations listed below.

Lundi 29 Mars 19h (limited places)
Organized by : France-Amériques Jeunes en partenariat avec Amcham et l’ESSEC International
Subject : HAPPY HOUR OPEN BAR (Pour les moins de 35 ans)
Location : AmCham France, 156 bd Haussmann, 75008 Paris
Membre FAJ:20€ and Non-membre :25€ and Sur place** : 30 euros
*Inscription en ligne :
Pour toutes informations complémentaires :
Invitation :

Mardi 30 mars 2010 de 19h00 à 21h00
Organized by : French-American Foundation
Subject : Les rencontres du réseau Obliques
Speaker : Fatine Layt, Président – ODDO Corporate Finance
Location : au Le Cardinal (1er étage), 1 Boulevard des Italiens, 75002 (station: Richelieu Drouot)
Membre : 20 euros et Non Membre : 30 euros
Merci de vous inscrire auprès de

Mercredi 31 mars
1) 8h15 à 10 heures – Organized by : France Ameriques
Subject : Petit déjeuner – débat – « Le role du Médiateur de la République et son regard sur la Société française »
Speaker : Monsieur Jean-Paul DELEVOYE Médiateur de la République
Location : France Ameriques – 9 avenue Franklin D. Roosevelt – 75008 PARIS

2)18 heures à 20 heures – Organized by : France Ameriques
Subject : Le médecin est-il toujours responsable ? Regards croisés franco-américains
Speaker : see link below
Location : France Ameriques – 9 avenue Franklin D. Roosevelt – 75008 PARIS

3) 19h00-22h30 – Organized by : Am Cham
Subject : Headhunting Networking Cocktail
Location : salons d’honneur de la Mairie of the 7e arrondissement 116 rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris

Jeudi 1 Avril 18:30-20:30
Organized by : Am Cham
Subject : HR Task Force Conference sur le Management Interculturel

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Euro strengthens against dollar after EU Greece deal

If you are new to Europe and regret the exchange rate that makes the dollar much weaker, the situation dates back to 2002, when the euro first broke the $1 barrier

Today, you can see growth and decline of the euro against the dollar at this interactive graph on BBC. You can choose viewing for one month, three months, twelve months or intra-day to compare the exchange rate changes.

According to XE, the euro is at 1.34000 USD today. It has also risen against the British pound. That comes after the European Union (EU) came to an agreement to put together a financial aid package for Greece, which is facing a debt crisis. More from the BBC:

The euro has strengthened against the dollar and the pound after eurozone leaders agreed a financial aid package to help debt-laden Greece.The leaders agreed to provide 22bn euros (£20bn) should Greece run into difficulties borrowing money to service its high debt levels. On Friday the euro rose by more than one cent to to $1.3393 before falling back slightly. The euro has weakened in recent weeks because of the Greek debt crisis. Against the pound, the euro rose by two-fifths of a cent to around £0.90.

There have also been concerns about high levels of government borrowing in other eurozone countries, such as Portugal. These forced the euro to a fresh 10-month low against the dollar on Thursday, before the eurozone loan package was agreed….

….The real test, analysts said, would come at the next sale of government bonds. “The Greek debt office will almost certainly have to announce another bond sale in the coming weeks,” said’s Jane Foley.
“Not only will this sale be a crucial test for Greece, but it will set the scene as to what happens next in [the eurozone]”….

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Paris Happy Hour for France-Amériques Jeunes

France-Amériques Jeunes will be holding a happy hour for those younger than 35 years old:

(Pour les moins de 35 ans)
vous invite à fêter le retour du printemps autour d’un Happy Hour
le lundi 29 mars de 19h à 22h
Membre FAJ:20€
Non-membre :25€

*Inscription en ligne :

Sur place** : 30 euros

En partenariat avec Amcham et l’ESSEC International

Pour toutes informations complémentaires :

*dans la limite des places disponibles (environ 50 personnes)

** dans la limite de places disponibles

Invitation :

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French transport disrupted by a SNCF specialty: strikes

March 23rd, 2010 1 comment

Normally I will not share political views on this blog, but encore une fois? BBC reports:

French public sector workers are holding a day-long, nationwide strike to protest against the government’s social and economic policies. The strike was causing some transport disruption, French media reports said….Hundreds of train workers were expected to walk during the strike out over planned reforms to the pension service, prompting travel problems across the country’s rail network.
About half the trains were running on Paris commuter lines on Tuesday morning, while nearly two-thirds of national high-speed TGV services were operating, according to French news agency AFP…

This time is not as bad as previous instances, but my personal opinion is that a strike here and there for standing up for worker rights, I understand. But they never end. The main reason why SNCF is striking, for example, is so that they can keep their privileged early retirement (in general they must work a few years less than the general population). But this is an old law that dates from when being a “cheminot” (employee of train services) was actually a physically grueling job (loading coal for power during the ride, etc.).

Now it seems to be an exaggeration, a selfish act that takes people like me who commute hostage. The magazine Capital had a special report on SNCF last April that was quite enlightening. Average SNCF workers do about 25 hours of real work per week. La Tribune most recently published a scathing article about the SNCF head, Guillaume Pepy.

The French government has a ballooning national debt, in particular in pensions for the aging baby-boomer generation now starting to take their retirement. People will have to work more years, but people are also living longer. The retirement age in France is 60, quite low by Europe standards. If SNCF workers want a healthy French economy, they will have to do their part to contribute to growth instead of hamper efforts to cut debt while disrupting the commutes of people who go to their jobs without going on strike. They think they are striking for everyone, but it’s only themselves who they have in mind instead of their fellow countrymen.

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the Left takes French regional elections, PM Fillon expected to offer resignation

I will soon be writing more on this subject, but for now I just wanted to update you on the French regional elections, which just had the 2nd and final round today, with Socialists and other left parties taking the majority of the vote. Despite Prime Minister François Fillon’s popularity relative to President Nicolas Sarkozy, he is expected to offer his resignation. But Sarkozy will probably not be “d’accord” with that move. BBC states:

With over 97% of votes counted, the Socialist-led opposition alliance took 52% of the vote with the UMP on 35%. Prime Minister Francois Fillon acknowledged the defeat, admitting the the left’s “success” and is expected to offer his resignation.

The results leave the UMP in control of only one of France’s 22 regions, the Alsace region in the east.
These elections are the last major electoral test in France before the presidential election in 2012.
“I assume my share of the responsibility”, Mr Fillon added.He is expected to offer his resignation in a meeting with Mr Sarkozy Monday, the BBC’s Emma Jane Kirby in Paris says. However, Mr Sarkozy is unlikely to accept Mr Fillon’s resignation as the president’s own approval ratings are at an all-time low, our correspondent says.

For full results, check out these guides on Figaro:
by département
by région

One thing I’ve noticed living here is that on the local and regional levels, the tendency has often been to vote Socialist or on the left, because those decisions affect the everyday life of people (transport, education, health, social safety net….), and the Left is more generous in this regard, whereas the Right (such as UMP) is more prone to cut expenses. I personally believe in a balance between the two, since expenses certainly do need to be cut, but responsibly. But France is a country of contrasts and political wars.

For analysis in French of how Sarkozy may respond to this, check this video out.
And to be balanced, as Figaro is center-right conservative, you can find leftist Libération analysis in French here and here.

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Calais, France cashing in on London 2012 Olympics

The BBC reported that the Calais region of France, just south of London and reachable by 1 hour Eurostar train by way of the English Channel Tunnel, is encouraging Olympic teams to come train there for lower costs, not to mention the French language for Francophone athletes and quality facilities. Interesting concept that could reap benefits for the region.

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Sarkozy’s UMP to lose in regional elections

This past Sunday March 14 featured the 1st round in voting in French regional elections. The second round is March 21 and should be tight.

According to BBC News, French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s center-right party UMP is headed for a defeat in these elections. While this does not in theory have a negative consequence on national representation at the central government level, it will likely have an effect on some of Sarkozy’s appointees and certainly undermine a part of the influence of his party in the regions:

Exit polls from the French regional elections indicate that President Nicolas Sarkozy’s centre-right UMP party is heading for a defeat.

The polls gave the Socialists up to 30% of the vote against 26.5% for the UMP. However, turnout appeared to be low. It is the last nationwide vote before presidential and parliamentary elections due in 2012.

The far-right National Front looks to have done better than expected, with up to 12% of the vote.

President Sarkozy’s poll ratings have plunged in opinion polls as unemployment has risen to 10%.
The BBC’s Emma Jane-Kirby, in Paris, says that although the election is meant to be about regional issues, voters are bound to use this opportunity to punish the central government.
However, the abstention rate of Sunday’s first round was put at some 52%, a record for a regional election.

May-June 2007: Presidential and parliamentary elections see Sarkozy elected president and UMP victory
March 2010: Regional elections provide key half-term test
May-June 2012: Next presidential and parliamentary elections

Sarkozy’s party faces drubbing
Mr Sarkozy has sought to play down the importance of the vote, saying it would have no impact on his reform drive.
But the socialists are expected to forge alliances with Green and other left-wing parties ahead of next Sunday’s second round.

The leading parties will then go forward to a conclusive vote which will decide who runs France’s 26 regions.
The Socialist Party is deeply divided at national level, but remains strong in regions.
Analysts say party leader Martine Aubry, who has been criticised by rivals, is hoping a good result in the current polls will boost her chances to become the socialist candidate in the 2012 presidential election.

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American University Clubs (AUC) France – March events in Paris, Lyon, Aix en Provence

AUC France has announced its events (PDF format) for this month up until April 1. They are expanding, and it is evident with events not only in Paris, but also in Lyon and Aix en Provence.

Some of the items on the diverse and packed agenda (with some in French, others in English):
-an event with the Argentine Ambassador to Paris
-a piano recital, and a classical music concert
-a conference about rebuilding countries after natural disasters
-a debate about the health system in France as well as reform in the US
-Legal English Training Program with American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Paris
-Headhunting Networking Cocktail with AmCham Paris….etc.

The list goes on, and each event presents an opportunity to network with fellow expats. Enjoy!

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Paris InterFrench expat networking meeting March 11

Although I’m in the Grenoble region, I wanted to share this info for those in Paris. InterFrench is a group on LinkedIn, and they announced this recently about an event this Wednesday March 11:

Group: InterFrench
Subject: Interfrench Paris Business Meeting this wednesday March 10th at Haagen Dazs, Champs Elysées
You are invited this wednesday March 10th to our monthly gathering at Haagen Dazs in Paris from 7:30pm to 11pm. (entrance 41 rue Marbeuf)
After a speech on how to succeed in networking, the speed meeting will start until 9:30pm.
After the speed meeting we will have free networking and dinner for those who ordered a dinner plate.
Two formulas: 17€ with one drink, 23€ with two drinks and a dinner plate.
Register on

Interfrench is not only a networking organisation between French and Francophile professionals. We were created in Silcon Valley in September 2000 and we developed from there a method for succeeding in Business with French people. We believe in building Business bridges and Exchanges between the French and Francophiles in each region and internationally.
register for free on

Pierre-Jean CHARRA, cofounder Interfrench

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France’s Sarkozy hints at bigger state role in business, encourages bank lending

The Associated Press published a piece talking about French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plans to convince bank leaders to lend more to businesses:

Sarkozy signals bigger role for state in business
By EMMA VANDORE (AP) – 2 days ago
PARIS — French President Nicolas Sarkozy is bent on taking a bigger role in the running of French companies, summoning bank leaders to his Elysee palace on Friday to order them to boost lending to the economy and smaller companies.
Sarkozy — whose conservative party faces regional elections later this month that polls show favor the opposition Socialists — “asked banks to remain fully mobilized to finance the economy in the recovery that is starting,” a statement issued by his office said.
“He particularly insisted that small and very small companies have access to credit,” it said.
France has also been setting the rules over how banks operating in France award bonuses, justifying the intervention by saying it pumped billions of euros in state aid into banks at the height of the global financial crisis.
When he came to power in 2007, Sarkozy was meant to shake up the stagnant, interventionist French traditions and bring back the French bankers who had jumped across the English Channel for lucrative jobs in London. He embraced the American entrepreneurial spirit and pledged to free up mortgage lending and hiring and firing.
Now, he’s reverted to France’s traditional state-central tendencies and has become one of the foremost cheerleaders for a new global economic order that will rein in the perceived excesses of the free market.
On Thursday, he announced a revamp of his industrial policy, saying that he wants board members in state-owned companies to represent government interests.
The government is the majority shareholder in Electricite de France, nuclear engineering giant Areva, and Aeroports de Paris. It also has stakes in France Telecom, Air France-KLM, GDF Suez, and Renault among other companies.
Earlier this year Sarkozy summoned Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn for an assurance that he wouldn’t switch production of the popular new generation Clio cars from France to Turkey. He complained about carmakers who produce abroad, saying they “no longer have a nationality.”
On Thursday, he said the government will “completely overhaul its shareholders’ role” and be represented by two administrators in companies where it owns shares. He said he wants twice-yearly exchanges with these companies on their strategy, investments and results.

Associated Press writers Thibault Leroux contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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