La Gloire which is Froggieland

Yet French public spending accounts for 56 percent of gross domestic product, the highest level in the euro zone, and public debt reached 90 percent of GDP this year. Hollande\’s deficit-cutting strategy is based on two-thirds tax increases, much of it on businesses, and one-third spending cuts.

Ouch.

Rather brings home the fact that the last Frog* to understand economics was Frederic Bastiat.

And he died in 1850.

NB, Debreau got the Nobel. And he trained at Chicago, lived and worked in the US and so that doesn\’t count.

8 comments on “La Gloire which is Froggieland

  1. I Constant – ly Say that Bastiat isn’t the only French economist worth his salt.

    And some modern Quantity Surveyors (“economistes”) know their onions too.

    But as for the rest… you’re right.

  2. “Rather brings home the fact that the last Frog* to understand economics was Frederic Bastiat.”

    Has that had a demonstrably bad effect?

    I don’t mean individual policies you (probably rightly) pillory, but on the overall wealth of France compared to comparable countries with better economists. Are economists any more use than diversity outreach officers? How would one test this in a rigorous manner?

  3. Oxonymous – “Luke, maybe we should ask how good France could have been if they’d had competent economists.”

    The real question is how f**ked up France should be and why it isn’t. Given they lack competent economists. I assume that having the Germans give you a hell of a lot of money to make up for WW2 ever since the Steel and Coal “community” helped. I guess that tourism is not bad either. Apart from that? Snobbery? Why do people like French fashion goods except that the French have convinced us, somehow, that they have taste – despite their personal hygiene and Johnny Halliday?

    So apart from over priced perfume, hand bags, the odd bottle of really nice wine, and truck loads of German dosh, what is keeping France out of the same basket case category as, say, Argentina or Brazil?

  4. That’s the interesting thing about France. Conventional wisdom says it should be a basket case, but it clearly isn’t. On an awful lot of measures, quality of life there outstrips the UK, and it’s not all down to climate. I think it even baffles the French.

  5. So apart from over priced perfume, hand bags, the odd bottle of really nice wine, and truck loads of German dosh, what is keeping France out of the same basket case category as, say, Argentina or Brazil?

    I expect it’s the fact that, despite the jokes about France being full of workshy fops, there are still an awful lot of well-educated French working hard in meaningful jobs who are keeping the economy going. They don’t get the publicity their German counterparts get, for instance, mainly because they are overshadowed by the antics of the fonctionnaires in SNCF and other state-run companies, plus the subsidy-sucking farmers. But I think it would be wrong to assume the whole, or even most of, the country is like this. We’re making the mistake of applying national characteristics to the whole population. Sure, the French don’t work stupidly long hours, but in my experience (having worked in American and French companies), the American practice of spending 12 hours per day in the office just to be seen to be present produces no better results than the French who might only do 5 hours work per day, but at least it is 5 hours work (provided they can stay out of meetings, which turn into lengthy philosophical discussions when Frenchmen are involved). From what I’ve seen, the French work smart, not hard.

    Also, the civil service…it might be a laughing stock amongst French and foreigners alike, but by and large it does seem to do a pretty good job. Governments come and go, but France doesn’t miss a beat.

    So I suspect what is stopping France being another Argentina is a very capable but unrecognised workforce, and civil institutions which are a lot stronger than elsewhere.

  6. @ Tim Newman,

    A very interesting point of view as, having once been a reader of your blog, you usually take no prisoners.

    If they really do “work smart, not hard”, I should brush up on my French and get myself over there. That phrase has always been one of my mantras.

    I could go on about my experiences in the UK and other countries but will allow any reader to correctly assume that “work smart, not hard” is very rare.

    Thanks for the insight Tim.

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