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Portfolio > Economy & Markets > Economic Trends

What's French for crazy?

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“Geithner, French Officials Discuss Stimulus.” Zut alors! Haven’t read a scarier headline to a major news story in quite a while. When experiencing periods of economic uncertainty, we should look to … the French? I usually limit my advice from Paris to old-timey wooden bikes with large front wheels. From the Wall Street Journal:

“U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and French officials discussed economic stimulus, bank oversight and financial-sector compensation in talks that highlighted some conflicts on bank regulation and also touched on the question of sanctions against Iran.”

For the past 20 years, unemployment in France has averaged between 8.5 percent and 12.5 percent. For individuals age 26 and under, it’s hit as high as 40 percent. Unemployment for immigrants in outlying Paris suburbs? We won’t even go there. The Socialist Party in power decided the solution to high unemployment was to limit (by law) to 35 the number of hours any one individual could work in a week. Thereby, the reasoning goes, they’ll be more jobs for more people. That was their solution; to restrict production in the hope that somehow their economy would rebound. It didn’t, and they eventually abandoned the plan. Nonetheless, powerful public unions ensure almost the entire country has the month of August off.

This is who Geithner is looking to for advice on stimulus and unemployment. How are we all feeling right about now?


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