Two Economic showdowns

In both America and France, two economic showdowns are about to happen. Admittedly they are fairly different, one a tax cut, debt raising, aid receiving debacle, and the other an attempt at reforms for a struggling economy, but still. Showdowns! (heh)

Anyway, the Americans (mainly the GOP) are trying to pass a raise to the debt ceiling, Conservatives naturally gunning for as many cuts as they can get, but the leadership knowing that they will need Democrat votes to pass it in the Senate after September 30, making a clean hike an option. Additionally they need to get Texas aid after Harvey (Mnunchin tried to link that to the Debt Ceiling, though it didn’t seem to go down well). Oh and they still need to pass a budget, defense spending, and a short term spending bill while they work on the former two. So, messy day over there.

France, meanwhile, is trying to reform its economic and business strategies fairly fundamentally. Naturally this is going to piss off every union and Melanchon, so expect protests. Anyway the five major shifts are

  • a shift from sector discussions for employment to in house discussions, which is arguably better for the employee and definitely better for employers,
  • a change in the power of judges to prevent layoffs
  • a set scale for wrongful dismissal (which will piss of unions but the Government is offering to increase minimal damages in case of dismissal)
  • a big cut to regs for companies with over 50 employees
  • and changes to the Short term contracts common in France and the introduction of a new, middle term contract which concludes once a project is complete and with some protections for employees (employers have to try and find them a new role before dismissing them).

So very different from each other, but also big deals for them both. While its likely that Macrons bill will pass and could indeed have a positive impact on the economy in the long term, it needs to be fairly useful in the current time frame for people to accept it. Also negotiations with the Unions. Fun. And Americans of course have their own problems, which I will most likely poke my head into as they develop.

Never though I’d enjoy economic policy as much but, hey it’s interesting.


Election thoughts and rambles

In the aftermath of Britain’s election, with Mays fall from a majority and Labors rise as a credible party once more, with Corbyn proving a surprisingly good campaigner, another election was held beneath many peoples notice. That is, the French Parliamentary election. 

Similar to the Presidential election there are two rounds, with Macrons Republique en Marche earning 31.5 percent of the vote in the first, potentially earning his party up to 400 seats within Parliament, an massive majority. While it should be noted that voters typically provide majorities to newly elected presidents to ensure their ability to lead and enact reforms, there were questions regarding French voters willingness to support a new party and an untested president. This is an impressive lead, though it bears repeating that two round system does mean that number could change, potentially in either direction. SO no massive response from me just yet.

In regards to Labors surprise growth, that of a 10% increase in parliament, in the end I can only wonder at Corbyns ability as both opposition leader and legislator. While the latter is unlikely to be seen in a Tory government, proposals and effective opposition and leadership could provide further strength to Labor given his new national profile (regardless of what much of the media and political establishment might want). As it is, I truly know little of his actual ability to do either so as above, I’m gonna wait and see.

It’s annoying this ambivalence I have right now. I like Macron, but until he begins making reforms I have no understanding of the impact or changes he can credibly make, or how that will affect French people and economy. I’m open to Corbyns success, but I know very little of the man and I’m hesitant to latch onto any British politician at this stage.

At this stage I’m just waiting for some new leaders to step up, and hopefully prove themselves nationally and internationally. Hopefully Macrons a signal of that change, but I feel that he’ll need to succeed for that to be worth focusing on.


Bloomberg: Macron Tightens Grip on Parliamentary Seats

Macron Wins French Presidential Election (oh thank f*ck)

In what has been referred to as a stinging rebuke of far-right nationalistic politics and an emphatic centrist victory, Emmanuel Macron has won the French Presidency at 66% to 34% besting even the best polls in his favor.

Europe breathed a sigh of relief, and so did I, for reasons I’ve mentioned before. 

Regardless this doesn’t suddenly mean that everything in French politics and economically will just work out. The Parliamentary elections are next month, and though he currently holds no seats with his En Marche movement, he has pledged to nominate a representative to all 577 seats in the house, potentially providing him significant leverage with the other leading parties in the aftermath.

Further, Le Pen has announced her intention to reform the party significantly, perhaps even taking a new name, to advance and grow her party for future elections. There’s no denying she has a voice in French politics now, and with her niece currently a rising star in the National Front and France these changes could be significant. Or amount to nothing, we’ll see.

Still, at least the EU’s likely to stick around for another few years at least. Merkel ain’t about to lose after all (and I don’t care what anyone says, Merkels too damn good to lose just yet).


The Atlantic: Macron wins French Presidency
Reuters: Macron Wins French Presidency

French Election Continues

The French Election has is currently undergoing is second round, between the two contrasting figures of Le Pen and Macron. while both represent a departure from the traditional left-right dichotomy, the two of theme represent such startling different visions for the future of France, and in turn the EU, that they couldn’t be farther apart.

And yet, in regards to that final note, the EU, there is a shared concern. Both sides acknowledge the flaws inherent in the system, even if the choose to respond in differing ways. Le Pen is demanding a referendum on leaving the EU, believing that the globalist construct is detrimental to Frances economic and cultural future, and not necessarily without reason. There is no question that France is struggling with an unacceptably high level of unemployment of 9.6%, with the youth rate currently around 25%. Culturally, while there is no question the xenophobia involved in Le Pens targeting of Muslims and Arabs, it should be acknowledged that the influx of refugees from the middle-eastern region has not come without cost to individuals and life style and should be responded to.

But this is all stuff that”s commonly known. Whats interesting’is what Macron said today. 

Confirming the concerns many have regarding the EU, Macron has announced a need for reform within the EU, or that it will face a Frexit. And make no mistake this is a far more significant threat than any Brexit could hope to be.

France is one of the chief economic partners of the EU project, the other being Germany. If either of these nations decided that they should leave, it is almost a certainty that the EU would collapse. In turn this means that the EU for it’s own survival is far more likely to listen and respond to such a threat. Assuming arrogance doesn’t somehow impede any discussions, though given the current struggles with Brexit it is unlikely (to me) that any of the leadership would invite further strife.

Now, certainly there are issues with the EU. An economic focus on the norther nations has often left many other states involved, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and other Southern states are struggling due to the lack of trade focus and economic involvement which such and imbalance encourages and impacts France as well. Coupled with the bureaucratic nature of the EU, and the difficulty individual nation states have impacting and shifting the priorities of the economic construct to better serve the whole and not the most immediately present and it’s no surprise there is discontent regarding the EU.

Understand I have little knowledge regarding the intricacies of the EU, and admittedly little motivation to investigate. What I do know is this is a major shift in politics for the such a central part of the EU, and if Macron maintains this stance, and wins the election, there is every chance this could result in legitimate change for the institution.

I like the EU, and I trust in its mission, that by binding Europe together economically there is a far lesser chance of conflict between the historically fractious states. That doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.

My Teeny Tine French Election obsession (also hey! a title)

So, I’m a little obsessed with the French election. I say little, because I’m not watching and listening to every single event and rally I can get my hands on, such as I was with the American election. It is however very prominently on my mind, especially in light of the recent conclusion of the first round of votes, with predictably Macron and Le Pen heading to the second round (with a good showing from Melachon, the socialist candidate. So hey, good for him).

I’ve said this before, but this is a big deal, a big European election in much the same way as the German Election is a big deal, as these two are the only nations really able to tear down the EU if they exited themselves. Some might consider this a good thing, I disagree. ignoring the economic fallout, where the sudden decentralization with no actual plan for how that would work, no trade deals really in place,

(these things take years of effort and negotiation to build, case in point my own country, New Zealand, has become rather good at negotiating deals as a matter of economic survival, and it still takes us quite a few years to establish any real deal between nations. And we’re good at this shit.)

And the assumption that somehow there wouldn’t be a global backlash and recession from the biggest market in the world dissolving. It always irritates me when people ignore that.

The second thing is, of course, my concerns regarding conflict and war. I do not trust volatile, aggressive personalities which politically thrive of attacks on a nebulous other, be it opponents or minorities rather than providing plans for handling whatever problem has occurred. Erdogan and Putin (and the Hungarian guy but I don’t remember his name) are good examples of this, currently economically all of them are struggling, which is significant for nations like Russia and Turkey which could be very viable trading and resource hubs, if they were managed better, but if anything both have thrived politically by blaming much of the nations problems of other people, Kurds or Americans, or whatever.

Which is what makes the French election very important. Firstly there is another would be autocrat, secondly the threat of a dissolving EU, and whatever could come after that. If this goes the way of right wing populist, bold words with little thoughts and planning behind them, especially in the aftermath of some of Le Pens plans? This could end very badly.

And I know what the polls say. But I know better than to trust them blindly.


Politico: Macron and Le Pen headed to Runoff

Elections for days, nightmares for us

There are currently two elections occurring concurrently that could have major ramifications for the future of much of the world. The French election, with Macron, Le Pen and the surprising late surge of support for the socialist Jean-Luc Melachon, the hard-left candidate proposing major renegotiation’s with the EU. The other is occurring in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world and concerns its largest city, Jakarta. The battle is between the pluralist Christian candidate and a right wing conservative Muslim, the latter advocating that a Christian cannot lead a Muslim nation, the former that the scripture his opponent is using to justify this position has been misinterpreted a dis misleading the people.

Both of these elections can have major ramifications regarding the nature of continents and political structures in major countries, at least in their zones. France is vital to the EU and if Melachon or Le Pen do become president, they could either pull out of the EU or reshape it in a direction that could have devastating consequences, resulting either way in its dissolution. Melachon could provide the change necessary to move France forward, currently in an economic status with little to no growth and unemployment remaining unpleasantly high. Meanwhile in Jakarta, a major economic and cultural center of Indonesia with prominent connections to Saudi Arabia, a shift towards more conservative, orthodox Islam could spell further danger for the pluralist government currently in place.

However, neither of these elections are close, for any side. Assuming a dire loss or an easy victory, as far too many commentators are, is a fool’s gambit. We simply don’t know how the people are going to vote in the end, and if they consider one option worse or acceptable if it serves their interest. Neither of these countries are America, the system is not run by an electoral college given far too much weight to the rural areas, and both have economies an systems that while currently are not in the best shape, are still considered some of the best in the regions they are in.

I have no interest in making assumptions, it will end as it will. But as I’ve mentioned, another autocrat in Europe or in control of a large sector of a Muslim nation known for a rigorous conservative interpretation is not an outcome I see as ending well.