With Europe in the spotlight here in Europe, and on the back-burner there in the US, I’ve been thinking about how differently Europe confronts its economic problems. There’s another lovely summit taking place in Brussels today and tomorrow.
It has a broad agenda:
- How is Europe going to manage banking supervision? Lets talk.
- How are France and Germany going to deal with those dicey issues of national sovereignty?
As most things European, what’s NOT on the agenda, is what’s being most talked about. In this case Greece, though sidelined for a few more months, it’s the elephant in the room, and standing next to the elephant is Spain, the wooly mammoth. Every effort is being made to portray a sense of calm or a lack of urgency. My favorite headline: Pour la première fois depuis trois ans ce n’est plus le sommet de la dernière chance. (For the first time in 3 years it’s not a last-chance summit.)
Knowing the French and their inborn ability to say everything while saying nothing, this pre-summit – summit is an opportunity to shine. Why? Because it’s Holland’s chance to sit down next to Merkle and say, “‘The wine is good isn’t it? It came from a vineyard in Bordeaux. The owner is a friend of mine and the guy who financed the business is an old school chum running our biggest bank. I’ll ask him to send you a few cases, but lets keep that between us.” Translation. “Don’t even think of putting rules around who my friends can (or can’t) finance.”
While the two of them are discussing high finance and the merits of a good Bordeaux an elephant and wooly mammoth are wandering aimlessly around the room.
Meanwhile back at the French Ranch (Dressing) – where did they come up with that? – some interesting laws are getting debated, ultimately the fundamental question socialist lawmakers are asking themselves, how do we take away any and all tax/fiscal advantage we’ve given in the past, starting with anything Sarkozy touched, and where can we oblige others?
- 75% tax on the rich – you’ve all heard about this. Think luxury Parisian apartments, this is funny. (here)
- The Pigeons, don’t touch my capital gains. (here) Think Grass Roots.
- Doctors won’t be able to practice where they want to. (here) Think Teachers. Imagine Brain Drain.
- Tightening of the reductions for home workers, and tutors. (here) Lets shoot ourselves in the foot.
- And Google which is at this very minute undergoing some pain… Might be obliged to block french media sites. (here)
The French have always been special, an elite family of good eaters, but seeing them fight for power in Europe while ignoring the elephant and the wooly mammoth while sacrificing the talented, and entrepreneurial talent at home is embarrassing.