Johnny, Please Come Home


Lest his early successes be overshadowed by fits at Lake Winnipesaukee and a disconcerting relationship with Bulgarian nurse-snatcher Muammar Gaddafi, Bloomberg points out that Nicolas Sarkozy is actually making good on some election promises:

Nicolas Sarkozy is rolling out the welcome mat for thousands of rich French people who fled one of Europe's most onerous tax regimes. Few may heed his call.

In his first economic act as president, Sarkozy is pushing a tax law to lure back exiles such as rock star Johnny Hallyday, 64, and members of the Mulliez clan, who control the French retailer Groupe Auchan SA. The measure will increase exemptions on the "fortune" tax–the bete noire of rich expatriates–and cap the total individual tax rate at 50 percent of income.

London and the U.S. are preferred refuges for younger people. Switzerland, with about 200,000 French residents, attracts the retired and stars like Hallyday.

Angry at paying more than 72 percent of his income in taxes, he moved to the ski resort of Gstaad last December in a storm of publicity. After Sarkozy's May election, Hallyday hinted he might come back. His press attache Catherine Battner says he has yet to make up his mind.

A few years back, French model Laetitia Casta was chosen to be the newest "Marianne," the symbol of French libertié—though she quickly outraged her fellow countrymen by picking up sticks and moving to London, where her piles of cash would be treated with more dignité. Sweden, a country synonymous with high taxes, recently abolished its 1.5 percent tax on personal "fortunes" totalling more than $200,000, after realizing that one needn't hire Inspector Art Laffer to locate the country's uber-rich in Monaco.

Full story here.

Hilarious picture of Sarkozy and Gaddafi, looking like Edward James Olmos, here. And yes, he is wearing an enormous Flavor Flav-ish Africa broach.