Oui Monsieur La Difference
From Mark Grant, author of Out Of the Box,
No, I will not be speaking of THAT difference but of the difference between the two contenders for the French presidential elections. If I spoke of the other difference I would send my compliance people into cardiac arrest and I am not that unkind on a Friday morning in the spring. In all of the polls for the last six months the socialist, Francois Hollande, is ahead in the run-off election between 6 and 16 points. The first bout is April 22 and the Concours d’Elegance is May 6. Now no one that is not French can understand the French well. The psychology of this nation is singular and lies somewhere between the puffed out chest when uncorking a Chateau Petrus and an air of casual indifference when sitting at Café Lipp in Paris and regarding the citizens of the various arrondissments parading along with that certain disdain which can only be worn by the people of Gaulle; Charles and otherwise.
“Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I will find an excuse in them to hang him.”
What Mr. Hollande’s win will mean for France is something to be carefully considered. A tax rate on the wealthy at 75%, renegotiate the EU fiscal pact, raise the minimum wage, impose more governmental spending, a decrease in the retirement age and a hostility directed at the banks and other financial institutions that may be described as combative or perhaps virulent and a complete change in attitude and direction from Napoleon’s strutting reincarnation also known as Sarkozy. If Hollande wins then what France was will not be what it is going to be and it is not a marked shift but a violent upheaval not only for France but for the European Union. There is no love lost between Hollande and Merkel and policies of the two nations will not be countries but worlds apart. In fact, in the EU-17, Germany will be quite isolated and the rancor that will increase will strain the political construct past what they are experiencing at present.
"Is it to be thought unreasonable that the people, in atonement for wrongs of a century, demand the vengeance of a single day?"
On the Horizon
The G-20 meets this weekend as Ms. Lagarde tries to raise more money for the war chest at the IMF. Some will be forthcoming though there is notable pushback to determine its use by Canada, the United States and some other nations. The outcome of this meeting will be interesting and probably determine the open on Monday. One other interesting note is the upcoming EU meeting where France and Germany will propose the reintroduction of border controls which flies squarely in the face of stated European Union policies for the past decade. No one is paying particular attention to this announcement but it is a clear sign of Federalism on the wane and of Nationalism coming to the fore. If no one on the Continent is going to be European then the price of this game of chance seems rather extreme. It would have been much easier for the Germans to take up “Strip/Risk.” They could have just said, “I have taken over Greece, Portugal and Ireland and now give me your blouse.”