Tag Archives: France

A Magic Wand for France?

By Anders Åslund – In the early days of his presidency, the French public is behind him; recent polling puts his approval rating at 62%. Yet goodwill can dissipate quickly, which is why Emmanuel Macron must move to capitalize on his early mandate by implementing reforms of fiscal policy, taxation, the labor market, and education, to name but a few areas where change is long overdue.

France’s most immediate problems are anemic growth and inadequate job creation. For the last 12 years, France’s GDP has increased by barely 1% a year, less than the mediocre uptick in the European Union as a whole, while unemployment currently hovers just above 10%.

Only five EU countries – Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Spain, and Greece – have higher unemployment rates.

Part of the unemployment challenge is tied to hidden costs. France has some of the highest labor costs for hourly employees in the EU, and a natural consequence is tepid hiring. With inequality also growing, many French are rightly upset that labor is taxed much more than capital gains. Indeed, France’s payroll taxes amount to 19% of GDP – far exceeding the EU average of 13%.

Likewise, government spending, at 57% of GDP – is the highest in the EU, where the average is 47%. This burden is excessive, and significantly hinders economic growth. more> https://goo.gl/jxchXt

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NSA surveillance creeps onto tech’s lobbying agenda

(POLITICO.com)By Tony Romm – The companies’ aim with the new D.C. effort isn’t entirely clear. Silicon Valley to date hasn’t pushed to restrict the NSA’s ability to reach into the Internet’s backbone for foreign suspects’ communications. Instead, the tech companies mostly have made the case for more transparency €” the need for better numbers and clearer documents that show how often the government seeks data from them and when.

But continued revelations about U.S. surveillance have raised the potential for new regulation of Internet companies in Europe and beyond. That’s causing headaches for tech companies that store and swap data overseas. Any changes to U.S. surveillance law consequently could have broad impact on business, and Silicon Valley is closely monitoring the congressional action. more> http://tinyurl.com/kwn6vkx

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Reining in the snoops

Washington Times – The Obama administration is doing all it can, short of dispatching a squad of park rangers to barricade the justices’ parking spaces, to prevent the Supreme Court from reviewing the National Security Agency‘s domestic spying enterprise. The administration‘s lawyers insist that lower courts can deal with the spy program, since the issue is too new to bother the high court with it. This is an argument too clever by half, since the administration further argues that lower courts have no jurisdiction in the first place.

At issue is the government collusion with telephone companies in gathering the “metadata” for every telephone call placed in the United States. more> http://tinyurl.com/l4c4z8y

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France wants EU, US trade talks mandate published

neurope.eu – “The first week of discussions on a transatlantic partnership agreement closed in a climate of doubt,” Trade Minister Nicole Bricq wrote in French newspaper Liberation.

“The US once again showed its splendid ambivalence. It is a country where everything seems possible and whose dynamism and energy we French envy. At the same time it is a prickly power incapable of resisting the temptations its supremacy gives it.” more> http://tinyurl.com/q2tkhse

Paris tackles rudeness to tourists with new manual

Reuters – One of the world’s most visited cities but also famous for its rudeness, Paris has embarked on a campaign to improve its reputation and better cater to the needs of tourists.

France is the world’s top destination for foreign tourists, with Paris visited by 29 million people last year. The business tourists bring to hotels, restaurants and museums accounts for one in 10 jobs in the region and is a welcome boost to the economy at a time of depressed domestic consumption. more> http://tinyurl.com/o6jvggg

France Approves Major Labor Reform Package

By Sarah DiLorenzo – France’s parliament has passed a package of significant labor reforms Tuesday (may 14) that the government hopes will help halt rising unemployment and jumpstart the country’s stagnant economy.

One of the main measures of the bill allows companies to temporarily cut workers’ salaries or hours during times of economic difficulty. This measure takes its inspiration from Germany, where furloughs have been credited with allowing companies to weather difficult times without resorting to massive layoffs.

Several measures are also aimed at making it less daunting for employees to change jobs. French contracts are known for the tremendous protections they afford workers and as those benefits increase, the longer an employee stays with a company. While it is frequently noted that these contracts make employers reluctant to hire, they can also make employees more likely to stay put in stable jobs. When no one moves, it becomes harder for the unemployed to find work. more> http://tinyurl.com/a2r6w5d

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Views from the Solar System (124)

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Springtime in the Bay of Biscay
NASA – Springtime in the Bay of Biscay, off the coast of France, as in most places, is a season of abundant growth. On April 20, 2013, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of the dynamic growth of a springtime phytoplankton bloom.

The swirling colors indicate the presence of vast numbers of phytoplankton – tiny plant-like microorganisms that live in both fresh and salt water. Although these organisms live year-round in the Bay of Biscay, it is only when conditions are right that explosive blooms occur. In spring, the lengthening sunlight, the increased nutrient load swept into the Bay from ocean currents and from snowmelt carried by freshwater rivers, combined with warming waters create the perfect conditions to spur phytoplankton in to tremendous growth. The result is a swirling, multi-hued discoloration that can be easily seen from space.

Each year, typically from March through April, such blooms occur in the Bay of Biscay. By May, however, conditions are not as favorable and the blooms fade, then disappear Image Credit: NASA GSFC

Europe finance tax to net tens of billions of euros: France

Reuters – France plans to implement a tax on financial transactions at the end of 2014 and believes the levy to be rolled out by 11 European countries will raise “tens of billions of euros” a year, its finance minister said.

The 27-member European Union gave the go-ahead on Tuesday to 11 countries pledging to impose a tax that was proposed 40 years ago by American economist James Tobin but never got off the ground internationally. more> http://tinyurl.com/ajb93tq

France delays move to make Web giants pay for networks

By Leila Abboud – France backed away from legislation to make Internet companies including Google pay for the burden they place on telecommunications networks, opting instead to ask a commission to study the controversial issue.

France’s Socialist government is concerned that Web giants weigh down networks with traffic without contributing to telecom companies’ investments in high-speed systems, echoing a position held by European telecom operators.

Big Web companies like Facebook, Google and Netflix reject the idea of paying telecom operators to have their content reach customers. more> http://tinyurl.com/bf2d4x6

In France, Nothing Says ‘Happy New Year’ Like a Burning Car

By Bruce Crumley – France celebrated the onset of 2013 in its uniquely pyromaniac fashion, with officials reporting that 1,193 cars were torched overnight from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1 — 209 of them in the Paris area alone.

Indeed, the rest of the world first took notice of France’s distinctive car-burning penchant during the three weeks of nationwide rioting in French housing projects in 2005, when 8,810 automobiles were incinerated by enraged youths. Yet, despite that riot-driven surge of car arson, year-end figures of around 43,000 for 2005 came in at around normal levels. Normal, that is, for flame-happy France. more> http://tinyurl.com/bdusys4