French CEO About Ratings Agencies: ‘We Have To Shoot All These Guys’

Wolf Richter's picture

Wolf Richter

"We’re experiencing the beginning of the repercussions of the financial crisis,” said Michel-Edouard Leclerc on Wednesday during an interview on Europe 1, France’s largest radio network. He is the CEO of the second largest retailer in France, E. Leclerc, a privately owned cooperative association with 555 stores—mostly hypermarkets—in France and 117 stores in other countries.

Sounding like a CEO one minute and like a populist presidential candidate the next, he emphasized that his company has done relatively well in 2011, sales being up 5%. Strategy: offer deals and cut prices. The whole industry, he said, “ate up inflation” with their margins, but his stores were particularly aggressive as shoppers have become less spontaneous and much more concerned about price. In his 30 years in the industry, he has never seen so much “rational behavior among consumers” and so much “fear of getting screwed.”

Until now, the financial crisis of 2008 has touched mostly the financial world, he said, but in 2012, it would impact the real economy. “I’m very worried,” he said. All the "stupidities" going on before the financial crisis, the speculative building bubble in the suburbs of Madrid or in Florida, or the "Madoffs" all over the place, there was so much waste, but... “It’s always the people who end up paying.”

How? “Higher VAT, higher taxes on drinks, on garbage collection, all that will go up. And then there is inflation. This year, we haven't seen too much of it, but it’s still about 3%.” Yet salary increases haven’t kept up with it, so it hit household purchasing power.

“Inflation in 2012 is arriving ominously,” he said. “Suppliers, who couldn't pass on their price increases because we opposed them, are coming back to us” and demand higher prices because their costs have gone up, in some cases by 20%.

“Companies have been bled dry,” he said. “Banks are making them pay more for their loans. Price pressures have built up in the supply chain. And everybody will try to unload price increases on the French.” The loss of purchasing power would be a major threat in 2012 and could push consumer spending into a recession, he said.

And what would he tell the next government after the election in May? “Stop listening to this financial world, these ratings agencies.” The government has to keep control of its strategy, he said. “According to the ratings agencies, it would be necessary to put France on a diet. But if there is no growth, we'll never be able to pay back our debt.”

“We have to shoot all these guys that come to give us lessons,” he said. “I believe that’s the real combat of our society. We, the actors in the real economy, must regroup so that we won’t be eaten up by these guys.”

"It wasn't the Italians that threw out Berlusconi, it was the ratings agencies. That's not normal. And it's not normal either that Monti was ‘non-elected’ by the ratings agencies. We have to master our own destiny once again. That’s the job of all of us.”

On the other side of the Rhine, the solution to the crisis is focused on reducing debt and repairing budgets—the dictate of M. Leclerc’s beloved ratings agencies. Amidst these tensions, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, member of Germany’s Sachverständigenrat—a council of economic experts for the government—was asked if the euro would break apart in 2012. "That would be bad for all involved,” she said, “but it cannot be excluded."

Oops. And in Germany, companies are getting ready for the end of the euro. Theoretical exercises for a hypothetical scenario, they call it. The latest was Herbert Hainer, CEO of Adidas, second largest sportswear maker in the world. Adidas, he said, “will be prepared to go back to local currencies if necessary." But now the public is told to prepare for the demise of the euro, too.... When the Previously Unthinkable Becomes a Planned Event.

Belgium is already teetering. To bail out its banks, it guaranteed €138 billion in debt—35% of its GDP! For that whole debacle, and why finally someone is getting sued, read.... CEO of Dexia: ‘Not A Bank But A Hedge Fund’.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
tony bonn's picture

"but in 2012, it would impact the real economy. “I’m very worried,” "

what cone of silence has he been living in for the past 3 years?

Clifhanger's picture

Hey Pepe Le Pew, funny how it appears that just now you are speaking up.  Where the hell were you during '08?? I must have missed your comments back then..

blueridgeviews's picture

We all saw the wisdom of the ratings agencies (sarcasm) after the financial meltdown in 08-09'. I wouldn't trust a single thing they say except if I were paying them to help me out financially. Hmmmm.

Freddie's picture

The ratings agencies - S&P, Moodys, Fitch = the Kenyan muslim's bully boys.

Georgesblog's picture

Yes, shoot the messenger. Like that has ever worked, right? The historical fact is that Corporatism always does the big crash and burn. People just don't get it. There are two very divergent realities to choose from. One is genuine, the other is deception. We see it in our expectations. The American Way is truth, justice, compassion, industry, ingenuity, honesty ..... etc. The United States Way is about eliminating competition, by whatever means necessary. In 2012, we have to wake up and smell the coffee, before the price goes up.

besnook's picture

of course he is right. the ratings agencies are part of the con game the banks are running. aren't they the lynchpin of the ponzi scheme? junk mbs securities rated triple aaa told everyone to buy. bogus downgrades tell everyone to sell. it is like the old protection racket the mob used to run. you better buy fire insurance because you might have a fire if you don't. that is exactly what they are threatening in europe and now japan(which they will do because of the china yuan/yen swap deal) they even do it to you with the bogus fico system.  only guillotines correct this behavior. dispense with the basket and let the heads roll.

The Reich's picture


Happiness is a warm gun...


nathan1234's picture



Agree- The tense used is wrong - to shoot

These guys should have been shot a long long time ago

And France anyway should have been a B rating only



TheAkashicRecord's picture

Wait until Chinese labor realizes they are being played (maybe they have already but cannot dissent), there will be an awakening there within the next 15 years or so I think.  

I would actually be in favor of helping to seed labor revolutions in other countries that do the bulk of manufacturing (such as China), it would help bring back jobs here as labor tends towards parity and the cost of shipping overrides the previous differential in labor cost.


TheAkashicRecord's picture

Sure, the TPTB there can double bonuses, but can they clean a toxic water table?  I hope they become aware sooner than later what their role is in the Ponzi, and I hope they adamently refuse it.

Outsourcing the excrament and poisons of capitalism to China, while the workers reap very little, it is an extremely poor risk/reward trade-off 

Capital flees to where labor is most exploitable

Race to the bottom bitchez, and China I think is winning

Sandmann's picture

Until now, the financial crisis of 2008 has touched mostly the financial world, he said,


He is undoubtedly cracked. Does he think that people holding Equities or Savings Accounts waited until 2012 to find their Interest Income had collapsed; Credit Interest exploded; and Bank Shares in Lloyds had lost 90% value ? Being French is no excuse for blatant stupidity !

hannah's picture

also he says inflation isnt going up..only 3% yet the suppliers have 20% ..ok i dont care who eats it but the REAL inflation is 20%....the end consumer may never see the 20% but if the company goes under..isnt it the same? no merchandise or massive inflation and no one can afford to buy...?

radfish's picture

Wait, He is saying that taxes will hurt the economy (a product of government spending) and inflation will hurt the economy (a product of central banking helping the government to spend) yet he says if the government spends less that will hurt the economy? How can he get it so backwards?

dcb's picture

funny IO sy that about ce3o's and bankers. Just shows how egocentric ceo's are. if you give out his contact info I'll behhappy to suggest he should kill himself for the benefit of mankind.

Manthong's picture

"We have to shoot all these guys that come to give us lessons,”

Bullets cost money.. rope and falling blades are reusable.

TSA gropee's picture

But much more quick and efficient. Line em' up two or three deep, then shoot.

w15dom525's picture

Did you get groped "gropee"?

DaBernank's picture

Shoot all the French... Wait... Did I miss something?

AnAnonymous's picture

The pipedream of US citizenish solutions.

Private demand, public demand. Cutting down on public demand, what about private demand?

US citizenism has set the world on an unsustainable path, public, private, it does not matter.

Convenient diverting. Nothing more.

US citizens cant end favouring consumption, their all system is based on consumption.

nickt1y's picture

Consumption encouaged, nay forced upon the public through public policy. Cheap money,cheap housing, cheap goods from jobs that were encouraged to go to China (by gummint tax policy). Public policy crafted by the crony capitalists and their handmaidens in DC. Do not blame the sheeple they just grazed where the grass was green, blame the shepherds. 

Ghordius's picture

you might want to polish this pet theory a bit - are you talking about a cultural bias?

even though I do think is funny how the US political discourse has focused on consumption, at the end people get up in the morning so that they can have their needs satisfied later, this is the primary basis of consumption

Norma Lacy's picture

Detail:    Standard & Poors headquarters is in Princeton NJ.     That Princeton.    That Standard & Poors.    Coincidence?

FunkyOldGeezer's picture

The ratings agencies are being manipulated politically, of that there is no doubt, in my mind. Just who are the bond vigilantes and do they really have THAT amount of money when all is said and done. Why should they hold the whole world to ransom, in order to make some money from money, even they don't actually have???????????

This French guy has it about right. Inflation can only be contained for so long. Even a friend of mine commented that 'the price of shopping has really gone up' over the past year. I held off retorting with 'you ain't seen nothing yet'.


AnAnonymous's picture

No. Unnecessary hypothesis.

Credit rating agencies are peopled by US citizens.

Credit rating agencies have certain powers.

Conclusion: US citizens peopling the credit rating agencies are going to use that power to shape their environment in a way that is favourable to them.

US citizenism, once again.

No orders being given, no political manipulation, nothing like that.

Just US citizens and their doctrine, US citizenism.

Expect US citizens to claim that it is human nature, not US citizenism though.

hugovanderbubble's picture

France d/g

EFSF d/g

Germany d/g


End this farce please.

sethstorm's picture

Perhaps that Frenchman is on to something.  That is, the rating agencies have crossed from the economic role to a political one, thus rendering them open season for political attack.

Austerity is only being used as a political weapon in Europe, and likely to be so in other parts of the world.

Ghordius's picture

the sovereign bonds market always had a political component in it - this since Rothschild financed the Tsar with 20% yield bonds.

during currency wars you just see better the political component of currencies - that's all

Austerity is not being used as a political weapon - it's just that if you share a currency you can't have too much differences in deficit spending

if they could, they would agree on forced lower limits - let's say 10% as in the USA - but how to explain this to those pesky voters?

Right-on Left-off's picture

“We have to shoot all these guys that come to give us lessons,” he said. “I believe that’s the real combat of our society. We, the actors in the real economy, must regroup so that we won’t be eaten up by these guys.”

My take is, he is talking about Geitner and then those freaking control beaurocrats in Brussels, Merkel and the Technocrats in the south.  The key words are "... that come to give us lessons".

I got the Bull by The Horns - HELP's picture

Europe, USA, Australia, Canada, UK (Western Civilised World) will go on.

Every country has its elite, and they all aspire to live in the West.

Open borders will attract the 1% from each country. Laws are being changed to attract wealthy immigrants. Australia was the test bed. It worked. Positive GDP for 20 years.

The poor can't afford to have children. Birth control is easily available now. Women hate their baby stretch marks. Vanity is more important for attracting that "hot" Boyfriend, than a child to tie him down. Because of this the West needs demand. From the worlds elite.

I am long US dollar and the USA Multinationals (CAT, Microsoft, Coka Cola, GE, Apple)

DFCtomm's picture

Am I living in an alternate universe? I'm wondering because I constantly hear statements at ZH about facts on the ground that simply are not true. The poor can, CAN, afford children and are having them because they get paid to, and paid fairly well. You get welfare for each child, food stamps, and also the earned income tax credit, which has turned our tax system into an entitlement. We do plenty to entice the poor to have kids, don't worry about that, but I am a bit concerned that you don't know this. I hope you're cloistered in wealth and thus isolated from all the ugliness of the real world, as opposed to just being a big fat liar who is making false statements in support of open borders.

Popo's picture

> "Every country has its elite, and they all aspire to live in the West."


Wow.  That's just completely untrue.   It's certainly not true where I live, but I'll give you this:   Every country's elite wants their kids to have at least some education in the West.

I'll tell you why most countries' elites are happy where they are:  There's a reality of being rich that's not politically-correct to talk about in America:   It's not just about how rich you are.  It's about how poor everyone else is.   ie: it's really not that fun to be rich when there's a relatively-wealthy middle class in your country.  They detract from the whole 'contrast effect' of being stinking rich.

In other words:   The elites in most countries like being there because it's really, really fun to be rich when everyone else is dirt poor.    

And furthermore, the elites in most other countries are very close to the government (as are the American elite) and continue to pass laws in their favor -- thereby staying permanently rich.   Why on earth would they want to give that up?

Most of the world's rich are *extremely* content to live in their countries where they have something closer to absolute-power, rather than watch their power drained by an uppity middle-class.    

It's also important to note that a very large portion of America's rich would like to see that kind of 'contrast effect' between rich and poor take hold in the USA as well.   If "they' can just break the middle-class, they'll be rich in a far bigger way.


DFCtomm's picture

Amen. Sorry, but that seems to be the only thing worth adding.

Urban Redneck's picture

that steps beyond "political incorrectness" and into the realm of "heretical truth"

AnAnonymous's picture

That is indeed the result of Smithian economics.

Dont forget though the reverse migration. US citizen middle class from the West pouring into third world countries to start a new wave of colonization, to help those countries to progress on the path of GDP increase etc...

hugovanderbubble's picture

Uk will be downgraded too.

so dont think UK will be fine in 2012-2013....

 * Barclays is a zombie bank

* RBS is a scam

* All Hybrids products quoting inside their balance sheet is just junk

*Lloyds/TSB must dissapear

Canada and Australia are overexhausted (in real estate and commodities valuation)

World must prepare for recession and in many places for depression.


Sandmann's picture

Lloyds Banking Group will disappear with Goldman Sachs, JP MorganChase, Citibank and Deutsche Bank - currently it has 33% Market Share in UK Checking Accounts which makes it reasonably big.

BigJim's picture

The UK and the US are the citadels of the global ponzi. They will be the last to go.... and he who falls last falls hardest.

Ghordius's picture

this reminds me how not long ago Brazil was having hyperinflation and now it suffers from a too "hard" currency while the British tabloids are having some chest-thumping moments on having been surpassed in GDP

I still don't buy the "catastrophic" downfall - big things degrade slowly

GeneMarchbanks's picture

Read Hyman Minsky.

How did Hemingway go bankrupt?

Ghordius's picture

"How did Hemingway go bankrupt?"

no, I don't get it - too much booze and travel? what "kills" so many financially, i.e. too many marriages? hon. no clue

Ghordius's picture

funny you mentioning Minsky, I was/am planning to

no - what I mean is that some systems look more fragile than what they are and then, even in a disaster event, can get up their feet quite quickly

jeff montanye's picture

interesting concept of open borders.  also not sure the 1% can support those multinationals if the 99% are too poor to have children.  but the non-human inhabitants of the planet will probably appreciate it.

e-recep's picture

it' s good news that the global rich are fighting among themselves. globalization will come to a fucking end.

Urban Redneck's picture

But they are not actually fighting, there whining, in traditional gay French surrender-moneky high fashion.  If they were fighting- they wouldn't simply be moving money from the local banks to the ECB where is gets immediately recycled back to the banks and bankers that they decry.  In the US- if Walmart were to pull its funds from BAC or JPM or wherever they park their excess liquidity and move it to the FED, the FED just sends it right back to BAC or JPM to keep the system propped up.  As much as I detest Walmart- it would make more sense for them and the rest of the non-banking TBTFs to form a "TBTF credit union", then there would at least be a sizeable alternative structure in place to make the failure of the banking TBTFs more manageable.  If I have to fight Walmart anyway, I would rather it be after they are softened up from taking down JPM and BAC and saving me from that fight.

dizzyfingers's picture

Isn't Walmart its own bank, or doesn't it have its own bank? It's the most capitalistic of businesses. And if people don't want to shop there or work there they don't have to.

Urban Redneck's picture

Walmart tried to get a banking license a little over 10 years ago and got turned down (thank god) because TBTF didn't want to compete with Walmart.  In the end they wound up brokering a deal where TBTF set up shops inside of WalMart.  There could have been some changes to this in the intervening years since I left the banks, but times change, and now I think it would be the lesser of two evils, but it doesn't have to be Walmart, it could be Exxon or some new US keiretsu, but it would have to have a huge amount of cash to enable settlement of US imports and exports on the business side, and a huge branch/store/office base on the concumer side so people could access their money while TBTF goes through its death thows.  Otherwise, if TBTF freezes- they could stop loading oil tankers or running grain elevators, and all hell would break loose for the broader and unprepared population after a couple days.   

XitSam's picture

Ha ha. He wants to shoot the rating agencies (now that the ratings are bad.)

Just like the school district that sues its broker. Ask yourself, would they be suing for securities fraud if they had made money?

jeff montanye's picture

would one sue the drunk driver of the car that didn't hit one?  the doctor who made a harmless mistake?

XitSam's picture

Not the same thing at all.  If their broker had made them a profit from illegal actions it is very unlikely they would have sued. But since he lost their money, they do.