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Tag Archives: France

Germany Stalls and Europe Craters, by Alastair Crooke

Will Europe lead the world into an economic depression? From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

The influential economic commentator on Europe, Ambrose Pritchard Evans, writes:

“German industry is in the deepest slump since the global financial crisis, and threatens to push Europe’s powerhouse economy into full-blown recession. The darkening outlook is forcing the European Central Bank to contemplate ever more perilous measures.

“The influential Ifo Institute in Munich said its business climate indicator for manufacturing went into “free fall” in July, as the delayed damage from global trade conflict takes its toll and confidence wilts. It goes far beyond the woes of the car industry. More than 80pc of Germany’s factories are in outright contraction.”

Why? What is going on here? It seems that, though other European member-states used to be Germany’s largest market, Germany’s first and third largest export destinations are now the US and China, respectively. Together, they account for more than 15% of all outbound German trade activity. More than 18% of Germany’s export goods ended up somewhere in Asia. Therefore, Germany’s industrial struggles in 2019 point the finger in the direction of its external focus, which means the US, China, and Asia – i.e. its largest marginal trade partners. And the principal assailants in today’s trade and tech wars.

Clemens Fuest, the Ifo president, says: “All the problems are coming together: It’s China, it’s increasing protectionism across the board, it’s disruption to global supply chains”.

But if Germany’s manufacturing woes were not sufficient in and of themselves, then combined with the threat of trade war with Trump, the prospect indeed is bleak for Europe: And the likelihood is that any of that ECB stimulus – promised for this autumn, as Mario Draghi warns that the European picture is getting “worse and worse” – will be very likely to meet with an angry response from Trump – castigated as blatant currency manipulation by the EU and its ECB. EU Relations with Washington seem set to sour (in more ways than one).

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Killing Free Speech in France, Germany and on the Internet, by Judith Bergman

France and Germany are even farther along killing free speech than the US. From Judith Bergman at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • In early July, France’s National Assembly adopted a draft bill designed to curtail online hate speech. The draft bill gives social media platforms 24 hours to remove “hateful content” or risk fines of up to 4% percent of their global revenue. The bill has gone to the French Senate and could become law after parliament’s summer recess. If it does, France will be the second country in Europe after Germany to pass a law that directly makes a social media company censor its users on behalf of the state.
  • Knowing that a mere Facebook post could end you up in front of a judge in court is very likely to put a decisive damper on anyone’s desire to speak freely.
  • If Facebook’s agreement with France is replicated by other European countries, whatever is left of free speech in Europe, especially on the internet, is likely to dry up fast.
  • While Facebook eagerly claims to be fighting hate speech online, including claiming to have removed millions of pieces of terrorist content from its platform, according to a recent report from the Daily Beast, 105 posts of some of Al Qaeda’s most notorious terrorists are still up on Facebook, as well as YouTube.
  • When will Facebook — and YouTube — make it a priority to remove material featuring the terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, whose incitement has inspired actual terrorists to kill people?

In May, France called for increasing government oversight over Facebook. Now Facebook has agreed to hand over to French judges the identification data of French users suspected of hate speech on its platform, according to France’s Secretary of State for the Digital Sector, Cédric O.

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France Slowly Sinking into Chaos, by Guy Millière

Even if France’s current leader wasn’t an elitist idiot, the country would probably be irretrievable. From Guy Millière at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • President Macron never says he is sorry for those who have lost an eye or a hand… from extreme police brutality. Instead, he asked the French parliament to pass a law that almost completely abolishes the right to protest and the presumption of innocence, and that allows the arrest of anyone, anywhere, even without cause. The law was passed.
  • In June, the French parliament passed another law, severely punishing anyone who says or writes something that might contain “hate speech”. The law is so vague that an American legal scholar, Jonathan Turley, felt compelled to react. “France”, he wrote, “has now become one of the biggest international threats to freedom of speech”.
  • The main concern of Macron and the French government seems not to be the risk of riots, the public’s discontent, the disappearance of Christianity, the disastrous economic situation, or Islamization and its consequences. Instead, it is climate change.
  • “The West no longer knows what it is, because it does not know and does not want to know what shaped it, what constituted it, what it was and what it is. (…) This self-asphyxiation leads naturally to a decadence that opens the way to new barbaric civilizations.” — Cardinal Robert Sarah, in Le soir approche et déjà le jour baisse (“The Evening Comes, and already the Light Darkens”).

French President Emmanuel Macron never says he is sorry for those who have lost an eye or a hand from extreme police brutality. Instead, he asked the French parliament to pass a law that almost completely abolishes the right to protest and the presumption of innocence, and that allows the arrest of anyone, anywhere, even without cause. The law was passed. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota – Pool/Getty Images)

Paris, Champs-Élysées. July 14. Bastille Day. Just before the military parade begins, President Emmanuel Macron comes down the avenue in an official car to greet the crowd. Thousands of people gathered along the avenue shout “Macron resign”, boo and hurl insults.

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Macron’s Security Service Threatens French Journalists With Prison And Fines, by Tyler Durden

France vies with the US and Great Britain to see who can discard their formerly robust protections of civil liberties the quickest. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

France has been turning up the heat on journalists who expose government wrongdoing, according to AFP.

The latest, Le Monde journalist Ariane Chemin, said was questioned by French security services for 45 minutes after she refused to reveal her sources for a report exposing alleged corruption and cronyism within President Emmanuel Macron’s inner circle.

“They asked me many questions on the manner in which I checked my information, which was an indirect way of asking me about my sources,” said Chemin – who wrote a series of articles on Macron’s former bodyguard Alexandre Benalla, who was fired after video emerged of Benalla roughing up a protester. The incident, and Chemin’s ongoing reporting, resulted in a spate of resignations by government officials.

A file photo of Le Monde journalist Ariane Chemin. Photo: Eric Feferberg / AFP

According to AFPLe Monde‘s managing director, Louis Dreyfus, was also questioned by the General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI) on Wednesday. “Everything is done to make it intimidating,” Dreyfus wrote in an editorial describing his own DGSI interrogation.

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‘The yellow vests are saying “enough is enough”’, an interview with Édouard Husson

The Yellow Vests keep protesting because their prospects are bleak and they’ve seen the rules of the game rigged against them by people pretending to be their betters. An interview with Édouard Husson from spiked-online.com:

After 22 weekends of protest, the gilets jaunes show no signs of slowing down. The movement has rocked the French government. The government has made major concessions but has also launched a brutal crackdown. After weeks of repression, police violence and mainstream-media smears, how have these protests lasted so long? spiked spoke to Édouard Husson, dean of the Institut Franco-Allemand at the Université de Cergy-Pontoise, to find out more.

spiked: What is driving the gilets jaunes in your view?

Édouard Husson: The immediate cause was the government’s hike in fuel taxes, but there are much deeper roots. It is really the result of decades of a totally counterproductive economic policy. In 1992, France had a referendum on the Maastricht treaty, which led to the creation of the Euro. I voted against it. I would like to have been proven wrong but I was extremely sceptical of the benefits for France. Every country has its own economic model and you need to have a flexible currency in a changing world. You are left with other mechanisms of flexibility but no government since the 1990s has had the courage to introduce either more flexibility into the labour market or more trade protections, for instance towards China. They haven’t even asked for that within the EU.

The ‘easy’ solution for France was to increase public expenditure and create public-sector jobs. This went smoothly from 1999 to 2008, but then came the economic crisis and the state had to tighten its budget. The result was that living standards have decreased, life has become more expensive, and taxes can’t go down because France has to meet the Maastricht criteria. The upper half of French society is thriving – they have the right skills and right education for a globalised market. But there are real problems for the other half.

It is very striking to see how many older people are committed to the yellow-vest movement. These are people who are recently retired and have had the time to reflect on their own lives, the lives of their children and the futures of their grandchildren. They are now saying, ‘enough is enough’. They cannot accept that their children will have more difficult lives than their own.

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Decentralize the French State, by José Niño

The real solution to the Yellow Vests’ woes can only come when the French government is dramatically downsized and decentralized. From José Niño at mises.org:

With the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protests raging for more than three months, the European Union’s viability as a political entity has come into question.

Indeed, the EU has gone through a whirlwind of economic and political upheavals since the eurozone crisis of 2009. In 2016, the EU experienced a political earthquake when the Brexit referendum occurred, and British voters decided that it was time for the UK to leave the EU.

To a certain extent, the Brexit vote was a manifestation of British populism. Now, the French populists have made themselves known in the form of the yellow vest movement.

But what are the implications of this?

France’s Out-of-Control Leviathan

France is not exactly in the best economic shape. The unemployment rate has hovered around nine to ten percent during the past decade. The cost of living has risen considerably thanks to government regulations. So, Macron’s failed gas tax proposal, which would have hurt the working class pretty hard, only exacerbates France’s sub-optimal economic situation.

And this is only the tip iceberg as far as France’s over-burdened economy goes.

Research from the Institut Économique Molinari found that the tax burden “typical workers” in France face is higher than any of its European counterparts. Fiscal restraint has not been France’s strong suit with government spending accounting for 56 percent of GDP. On the regulatory front, France is a mess. Its Code du Travail, a 1,600 page, 10,000-article legislative monstrosity, has greatly hamstrung its labor market. According to the Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Index of Economic Freedom, France’s Labor Freedom score places it very close to the “repressed” category.

In a cruel twist of irony, France has reverted back to its monarchical political economy, dominated by an interventionist state that heavily regulates, subsidizes, and controls certain sectors of the economy.

Sadly, many of the yellow vest protestors have not comprehended the 800-pound elephant in the room that is French statism.

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Algeria: The Iceberg That Could Sink Emmanuel Macron, by Scott McConnell

Algeria may be sending a new wave of migrants to France. From Scott McConnell at theamericanconservative.com:

After surviving several assassination attempts by French partisans of Algérie Française, Charles de Gaulle in March 1962 signed a peace agreement ending French sovereignty over Algeria. The war for Algerian independence had been long and vicious, marked by terrorism and torture. Everyone who mattered in French politics believed in 1954 that Algeria was an integral part of France, to be defended at all cost. But by 1962, their view had changed. With cold realism, de Gaulle remarked of the conflict, now in its seventh year, “As for France, it will be necessary for her now to interest herself in something else.”

France did fine after granting independence to Algeria. Algeria less so. The Algerians who had taken the side of France, fought in its army, or served as administrators of the Algerian government fared terribly—many suffered appalling deaths at the hands of the vengeful victors. According to Alistair Horne’s Savage War of Peace, 15,000 were killed in the summer after the March armistice.

An important reason de Gaulle broke with his conservative army supporters and became determined to negotiate Algerian independence was that he thought the French and Algerians were fundamentally different peoples. For him, Algérie Française, the “France of a hundred million” supplemented by Algeria’s population and vast reserves of oil and gas, was total fantasy. His colleague Alain Peyrefitte quoted him as saying privately in 1959 that you could mix Arabs and French together, but like oil and vinegar in a bottle, after a while they would inevitably separate. He worried that an Algérie Française would lead inevitably to his home village of Colombey-les-Deux-Églises being transformed into Colombey-Les-Deux-Mosquées.

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