Apres Le Non


In France, Raffarin is out as PM, and Dominique "Veto" de Villepin is in. His mission: fix French unemployment while protecting the French economy from "Anglo-Saxon" ideas about markets.

"This struggle requires national mobilization," President Chirac told the French in a televised address. "It will be enacted resolutely in accordance with the French model and not the Anglo-Saxon type of model . . ." The French model, as David Ignatius has pointed out, is to strive to "maintain inflexible management and labor unions, six-week vacations, a 35-hour workweek," etc. The nation's unemployment rate has been about 10 percent for some 15 years.

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  1. Boy it is fun to watch the Euros self-destruct. They have both ends chewing up the middle and some unfortunate Eurocrats may actually have to get real jobs. Mon Dieu!

    My enjoyment brought this:

    Non! Bravo Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys


    Uncle J

  2. The fact that the French regard Britain as some sort of ultra free market (which it isn’t) shows just how regulated and inflexible their economy must be. No wonder their unemployment is so high.

    I’m glad they’ve voted no as this may actually start a process of actually sorting out what the EU is and isn’t for. If the constitution had been blocked by us British voting no (as I’m sure we would have done) it would probably just have been dismissed as Britain being awkward again and ignored as much as possible.

    (British Reason reader)

  3. “Anglo-Saxon Economics”?

    Is that anything like “Jewish Physics”?

  4. 1. the 35hr workweek canard
    2. french multi-factor productivity has actually been comparatively higher than in the US
    3. US unemployment on an ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison is closer to 12% (not including incarceration rates)
    4. balance of payments

  5. 1. the 35hr workweek canard

    The only reference I can find in that entire article you’ve linked is:

    “France has all but abandoned its 35-hour workweek”

  6. 3. US unemployment on an ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison is closer to 12% (not including incarceration rates)

    The only thing I’m seeing in these links is that basically the US doesn’t count those who aren’t actively looking for a job in the unemployment rate. I fail to see any proof that measures of France’s unemployment rate is figured differently, which would be what you need to prove that current comparisons aren’t “apples-to-apples.”
    Let’s take a rather well-regarded source for international data, the CIA World Factbook. Granted, American institution, so on, but it tends to be quite reliable, and it uses constant methodology to acquire data.
    Unemployment in France, 2004 (est.) – 10.1% (http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/fr.html)
    Unemployment in the United States, 2004 (est.) – 5.5% http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/us.html

    Hell, I like France, but don’t try to claim “apples-to-apples” and then try to compare the US work force participation rate and the French unemployment rate.

  7. For the sake of fairness (and the greater goal of avoiding real work) I thought I’d try to dig up a non-US source of unemployment rates by countries.

    Internationally comparable Labor Force Participation Rate is a bit hard to find, but ye olde trusty UN (who says they’re good for nothing?) does have labor force profiles for all the UN countries. Included in this profile is a Total Economic Activity Rate, which is a measure of labor force participation by the whole population.
    According to the UN, the US has a Total Economic Activity Rate of 50 (I assume percent).
    That seems mighty low, maybe it’s that high incarceration rate you referred to earlier.
    Now to France, which boasts a Total Economic Activity Rate of…44

    This should not be construed to infer a complete picture, you’d need to factor in age distribution (France is weighted a bit more towards prime working ages than the US), Unreported jobs (black market, under the table, etc., search me how the two compare), median wage, etc.
    But, a cursory look at the data seems to show what many would guess, the labor force participation rate is relatively comparable (though by no means close), but those without jobs are less likely to be looking for a new one.
    Oh Economics, master of proving what everyone already knew.

  8. Well, TheRev, call me stupid, but the diff between the unemployment rates is about 6% and the diff between those activity rates is also about 6%.


  9. The 35 hr work week has actually been somewhat diluted, though perhaps not to the point of canardship.

    While employees can agree to work above the 35 hrs, they must be paid extra on the time and the general limit (for non-upper management and collective bargaining agreements) is 180 hrs/yr. This means that if the average Frenchman allows it, they may end up working nearly 39 hrs/week/yr (excluding vacation). Sacre Bleu, how do they survive?

  10. “It will be enacted resolutely in accordance with the French model and not the Anglo-Saxon type of model . . .”

    Bastiat got this covered again, 150+ years ago:

    So here I am, discredited forever; and it is now an accepted fact that I am a heartless, pitiless man, a dry philosopher, an individualist, a bourgeois – in a word, an economist of the English or American school.


  11. I’m not sure that the “apples-to-apples” argument is a vindication of the French system. It seems more likely an indication of how “euro” the American system has become.

  12. kwais, the answer to GM’s problems is socialized medicine, not the free market.

    Just read their press releases. This is their new campaign to save the company – by offloading their medical insurance expense onto the taxpayers.

    Good riddance to GM, I say.

  13. “This is their new campaign to save the company -”

    That’s unfortunately 100% true. Also, GM is not alone in that pursuit. I’d love to ask Mr. Wagoner if he thinks that the medical industry could get a boost by nationalizing automotive industry so that hospitals don’t have to pay for ambulances.

  14. kwais: Baistiat was a french 18th century economist, very much of the free market bent. He was also farily amusing, considering hes an economist, french and of course was from at least 100 odd years ago.

  15. kwais

    Frederic Bastiat (1801-50)

    A short biography here:


  16. R C Dean, While the two numbers are likely related, the data there doesn’t really prove that. Correlation does not infer causation and all that jazz.

  17. Those sneaky, diabloical labor unions! Always slipping their crazy “pension plans” and “medical benefits” into contracts without management noticing!

    Maybe if companies like GM and the old-guard airlines should have adequately funded the medical and retirement pensions that they contractually agreed to with the unions all these years, instead of paying out huge bonuses and stock option plans — which incidentally were predicated on company financial results that were inflated by that very pension underfunding.

    If there were stricter enforcement of contracts (Hey! Hsn’t that the foundation of Libertarian Society?) and adequate consequences for artificial persons who breach them, instead of an easy route to a government-funded corporate safety net, maybe we’d see more personal responsibility from the artificial persons among us.

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