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The Economist’s France 14-page special report

The Economist this week has a 14-page special report this week in its print edition that focuses on France, from its economy to politics, under the central theme of how economic structural reform is necessary in order to avoid a “time bomb” going off at the heart of the Eurozone. You can access the Nov. 17, 2012 print edition contents here. The leader article introducing the special report is here, and the special report link can be found at the table of contents site under “Special report: France” (there are 8 articles).

I’m delving into all this right now and encourage you to do the same. Even if you don’t agree with the magazine’s analysis, it is a highly-regarded publication for a reason: for asking important questions.

This is the not the first time the British news magazine has waxed poetic about France’s economic woes and potential for growth. Indeed, French economic and business paper Les Echos puts past covers and stories into perspective (in French).

What do you think are France’s biggest problems and do you think Hollande and Ayrault’s government can solve them?


  1. JustMe
    November 19th, 2012 at 15:04 | #1

    Biggest problems: very large unassimilated minority population. Literally pushed to the edges of society and the cities. impossible to sustain welfare state with high wages, early retirement and fewer working hours. labor immobility has killed competition for talent. Red tape has killed innovation. Stagnant society with antedeluvian notions of class and “place”. Taking 2 hours for lunch. I could go on.

    I fear that this complacency by the Left for decade after decade is only fueling the disenchanted angry right which has been simmering since the mid 90’s or so. Look at the Generation Identitaire. If that movement gains any steam France is going to see upheaval that will shake the foundations.

    Hollande will do nothing to solve the social problems. He can’t. He’d be labeled a reactionary and a racist and blah blah blah. Nor can he solve the financial problems because he is a socialist and socialism simply doesn’t work. It is merely the long slow decline into irrelevance and bankrupcty and even collapse. There’s a reason France is on their 5th Republic. I think they’re long overdue for a revolution.

  2. Tony PERLA
    November 22nd, 2012 at 21:43 | #2

    { I think they’re long overdue for a revolution.}

    It’s evident, from this remark, that you don’t know France.

    There will be no revolution. There will be a painful and gradual change in its statist personality. The French are locked into the Euro. Governments of both the Left and Right have been kicking the debt-can down the road for decades – long before the euro arrived. That procrastination can no longer be tolerated. It is time to Pay The Piper.

    Largely brought about by France’s silly 35 hour work week paid 39.5 hours, its lack of competitiveness has diminished the economy seriously. Thus its tax-revenue base has retracted considerably – so even debt-maintenance borrowing is difficult. That the socialists, three months after having won the election on a fluke, have finally seen the proverbial writing-on-the-wall is a welcome sign. Unfortunately, their plans to reduce Unit Labor Costs and government expenditures are a palliative. They are too little and too far pushed out into the future to have any immediate impact.

    But the Social Entitlements, though greatly reduced, will not be dismantled and they make France a great place to live. Where you need not worry about a crushing illness that will bankrupt you (because you don’t have adequate Health Insurance). Or the fact that a thorough education (pre-, secondary- and tertiary-education) is consider a birthright and your children will not graduate from university with a debt-albatross hanging around their necks. It is greatly important in this Brave New World of globalization that our children have the skills and competencies with which to have a decent job at a decent salary.

    I could go on, but the above two examples are sufficient. Healthcare and Education are both sine-qua-non essentials of any well-functioning society. Maybe the Old World can teach the New World a few things about Social Democracy?

    But maybe the New World isn’t even listening … ?

  3. JustMe
    November 30th, 2012 at 15:20 | #3

    Sorry, “overdue comment’ was me being snarky. I meant merely that they are so entrenched in the Big Government mindset only a revolution would change the course of the ship of state. I’ll not go on and on about the virtue or market solutions for healthcare vs. state run care but I’ll just say I prefer the former.

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