The Great Debate

from Anatole Kaletsky:

An ‘atomic bomb’ is hovering over France’s economy

By Anatole Kaletsky
October 10, 2014

France's President Hollande and German Chancellor Merkel talk during a conference on jobs in Milan

An “atomic bomb” is about to blow up in “the confrontation between Paris and Brussels.”

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.

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.”

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.

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.

Is France closing for business?

By Peter Gumbel
May 23, 2012

Arnaud Montebourg, a member of the French parliament, has a problem with the iPhone. He thinks consumers in France should pay more for it than they already do. Why? Because, he says, the iPhone is made by “exploited” laborers in China who are taking away the jobs of French workers and the best way to redress that is by putting in place trade barriers and taxes that will stop “excessive imports.”

What happens if Hollande wins?

By Peter Gumbel
May 3, 2012

His political allies wrote him off as a lightweight, “a pedal-boat captain in a storm” as one memorably put it. European leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, have gone out of their way to avoid him, and the markets have been unimpressed by his declaration, to the City of London, that “I am not dangerous.”