French President Francois Hollande’s predicament is, oddly enough, akin to one Alice faced in Lewis Carroll’s 19th century classic.
A year after taking power, Hollande is buffeted by the lowest popularity of any modern Gallic leader, a record number of jobless, a recession and shriveled business investment – while still needing to cut his budget deficit to hit European targets.
The protagonist of Alice in Wonderland, meanwhile, confused by her strange encounters down a rabbit hole, meets the Queen of Hearts, who tells her: “My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere, you must run twice as fast as that.”
The Socialist leader, says AXA Group Chief Economist Eric Chaney, is in a rabbit hole.
“The situation is much worse in France in the past year,” Chaney told me from Paris, where AXA, Europe’s No. 2 insurer, is based. “Italy and Spain are implementing reforms. France is doing nothing. So it is getting closer to the periphery [of weaker European nations]. What the queen said to Alice applies to France.”