The Great Debate

NATO allies must work closely together, but do their missile defense systems?

By Francis Mahon
October 2, 2014

Patriot_missile_launch_b 

Since few nations can go it alone militarily, alliances are now crucial for ensuring security. To mount a common defense, allies need weapon systems that can operate together. In military parlance, the ability to work with other systems and  share data with them as if they were one system is known as “interoperability.”

In France, where unions rule, a challenge from Hollande

By Peter Gumbel
January 29, 2014

In France, taking a person hostage or sequestering them against their will is a crime punishable by up to 20 years in jail. It also happens to be a very effective weapon in French labor disputes. Since 2009, there have been 15 incidents of “boss-napping” and only one resulted in sanctions: 11 postal workers who were fined $2,000 apiece for locking up their managers during a dispute over a change in how the mail is delivered.

To boost entrepreneurship, France tries to change its attitude toward failure

By Peter Gumbel
January 23, 2014

When entrepreneur-turned-venture capitalist Mark Bivens first moved to Paris in 2001, he regularly introduced himself as someone who had started three software companies in the U.S., two of which had flopped. That’s a badge of honor in Silicon Valley, where failure is viewed as a rite of passage. Not in France. One day, a French colleague took Bivens aside and gave him some friendly advice: if you want to reassure people, stop talking about the companies that didn’t work out. “I soon realized that failure carries a stigma,” Bivens says.

France says ‘Non’ to the digital age

By Peter Gumbel
January 10, 2014

France has kicked off 2014 with an array of skirmishes against Amazon, Google and other U.S. Internet companies, in what is shaping up as a classic battle between comfortable Gallic tradition and disruptive modernity.

Too many cooks in the Iran nuclear kitchen

By Yousaf Butt
November 14, 2013

Last weekend, after years of failed negotiations, the “P5+1” nations — the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China) plus Germany — finally appeared to be on the verge of a deal with Iran regarding curbs on its nuclear program.

Foreign investment in France thrives despite gripes — for now

By Peter Gumbel
October 17, 2013

In France these days, every new industrial investment is welcomed with open arms, so when the Japanese machine-tools manufacturer Amada announced in mid-September that it was putting an additional $50 million into its existing production facilities, no fewer than two government ministers showed up for the signing ceremony. Much to their embarrassment, however, the chief executive officer of Amada, Mitsuo Okamoto, gave an interview that morning to a national French daily in which he castigated the national business climate, and said that if the company hadn’t already been in France for 40 years, “we would think twice about investing here for the first time.”

With unemployment high, France forces stores to close early

By Peter Gumbel
September 25, 2013

The French like to refer to the Champs Elysées in Paris as “the most beautiful avenue in the world,” and 300,000 people stroll up and down it every day to see for themselves, many of them tourists looking to shop. No surprise, then, to find that retailers from Nike to LVMH are willing to pay premium rents for space on the avenue, which runs in a straight line from the Place de la Concorde up to the triumphal arch at Etoile.

The minister who dreams of a reindustrialized France

By Peter Gumbel
September 23, 2013

The body of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV’s wily finance minister, is encased in a marble tomb in the Church of Saint Eustache in central Paris. But if you believe Arnaud Montebourg, the enfant terrible of French politics, his spirit is still very much alive, 330 years after his death, and about to spark a new, digital-age industrial revolution in France.

How debt-laden French cities avoid Detroit’s fate: sue the banks

By Peter Gumbel
July 22, 2013

Within hours of Detroit filing the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history on July 18, French TV and other media followed up with the reassuring message that, in France at least, such a turn of events would be impossible. Under French law, municipalities are required to balance their budgets, and the national government can — and occasionally does — intervene to force them to comply.

What Hollande can learn from Queen of Hearts

By Gary Regenstreif
May 21, 2013

French President Francois Hollande’s predicament is, oddly enough, akin to one Alice faced in Lewis Carroll’s 19th century classic.