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Home gas prices up in France April 1, up 20% in past year

According to this article published in French magazine Le Point, the Commission de régulation de l’énergie (CRE), the French Energy Regulatory Commission, has approved a request for a price hike in natural gas used for home heating.

The energy company GDF Suez, in which the French government has a 35% stake, requested the increase, which will take effect April 1. The increases have been steady, and this last measure will make rates 20% higher than a year ago, and 60% since 2005.

Consumer organizations, notably association de consommateurs UFC Que Choisir, have voiced discontent with this measure, as the increases over the past year have meant an additional 200€ on average spent by families.

The article specifies that most of the natural gas that GDF Suez imports is based on 20-year supply contrats with countries such as Norway, Algeria and Russia. Pricing for gas prices takes into account the evolution of the euro-dollar exchange rate, the price of heating oil and crude oil and the price of natural gas listed in Amsterdam (or the APX-ENDEX).

Read more in the original article, “Les prix du gaz augmentent de 5,2% le 1er avril, de plus de 20% depuis un an.”

US states population and GDP compared to countries

As is often the case, The Economist has a very interesting feature with an interactive map that illustrates the states of the US and their population and GDP (I believe nominal here, not purchasing parity), compared to similar statistics of other countries.

For instance, the population of California (37.5 million) brings it close to Poland (38.11 million), and the GDP of Texas ($1.114 trillion) is roughly the same as that of Russia ($1.231 trillion).

How does France fare? Its GDP is estimated at around $2.5 trillion, making its economy about the size of a California-Florida combination, and its population of about 65 million translates into the combined populations of California and Texas.

For those of you interested in China, the magazine has a similar feature comparing Chinese provinces to countries (for instance, Guangdong’s GDP is similar to that of Indonesia). It also gives GDP per person and Exports stats.

For the US feature, you can click on each state for an in-depth analysis. I have pasted images below to give an idea of the feature (1st one is GDP, 2nd one is population). Enjoy.

France among the most secular countries

August 10th, 2010 1 comment

According to this piece in The Economist, over 50% of French never go to religious services (except for special occasions like weddings and christenings). See chart below. What is even more interesting is the variety of results across Europe. The poll includes Russia and Israel but not Ireland, very curious, since Ireland is one of the most religious countries in Europe. No surprise for France, where secularism is a strong notion and part of the country’s cultural fabric, after centuries of domination by the Church in state affairs and wars of religion.

This is not to say there are not opportunities to participate in religious services in France (I know of English-speaking churches in Paris, for expats, for example). Au contraire. But it’s important to take into account cultural differences to understand a country’s collective mindset.

from the Economist, Aug. 9, 2010

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