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Warning! December 2, 2008

Posted by A Texan In Grad School in Europe.
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I attend graduate school in California, so I see warning labels on everything.  Usually they are of the form “This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause [insert anything here, cancer, webbed feet, et.]”  But the French have outdone Californians in this ruling:

French President Nicolas Sarkozy voodoo dolls can still be sold by a publisher as long as they come with a warning that sticking pins in the toy is an affront to his dignity, a Paris court ruled today.

(HT: Best of The Web)

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The Credit Crunch in the European Theater November 24, 2008

Posted by A Texan In Grad School in Europe.
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The Financial Times has a great synopsis of the current state of financial affairs in Europe.  This paragraph is a great description of delays that are endemic to government action:

“It’s fair to say that the EU’s initial response was inadequate, but it is always through crisis that the EU becomes a little less inadequate further down the road,” says Mario Monti, a former EU commissioner.

Also, bailing out the US industry won’t help them to compete with their European counterparts since Europe is starting a loan and bail-out queue like the US;

European carmakers have already won a sympathetic response from Brussels for their request for €40bn in soft loans to match similar aid for their US competitors. With the precedent of government-directed bail-outs of European banks in mind, other industries may not wait long before putting in their own requests.

But most of all I wonder what the “characteristically” in this passage is refering to:

Characteristically, however, [French President Nicolas Sarkozy] has also exploited the crisis to promote French notions of state-guided capitalism at the expense of what he and a multitude of other continental Europeans see as the failed neo-liberalism of the US and UK. To tame these ambitions, Mr Brown may usefully recall what George Curzon, the early 20th-century British statesman, once said of the UK-French relationship: “We go about arm in arm with her, but with one of our hands on her collar.”

I would argue it’s characteristic not of Sarkozy, but of nearly all public officials to explout crisis to promote their own agenda.