22 November 2008

A presidential visit

The President was in Saint-Aignan yesterday. Apparently. There wasn't much publicity preceding his visit. I just read about it in the local newspaper. Actually, the article was written before he came to town. I can't find one in this morning's online edition.

The official purpose of Nicolas Sarkozy's visit was to announce that the French government is going to lend a local company called Daher 85M euros — that's more than $100 million. The banks aren't making loans available right now, in France as in the U.S., so the government is stepping in to act as a lender. Daher is a family-owned aeronautics components manufacturing company (équipementier aéronautique in French) with a plant over in Montrichard. The company just signed a deal of some kind with EADS, the European company that owns Airbus.

But official trips are nearly always accompanied by a little politicking. This is the second time Sarkozy has visited the Loir-et-Cher since he became President of the Republic a couple of years ago. UMP "militants" — card-carrying members of the President's party — planned to turn out to meet and greet the president in Saint-Aignan, according to one article I read.

The political event was a lunch for the local faithful over at the new hotel complex operated in connection with the ZooParc de Beauval, just a couple of miles from here. I don't know what the menu was (but wish I did). We haven't yet tried the new restaurant over there.

In his remarks at Daher, Sarkozy explained that the French government has decided to make loans to private companies because of the current financial crisis and credit squeeze. He seemed a little embarrassed, because he was elected as strong advocate of free-market policies and an opponent of government intervention in the private sector. Now he has set up a "strategic investment fund" to make loans (or "investments") available to selected companies, saying he wants to take advantage of the current economic crisis to encourage change in France.

Looking chastened (to me), Sarkozy even made mention of the fact that some analysts might accuse him of adopting "socialist" policies by propping up private companies. He said the government is targeting "successful" companies and its "investments" would be a short-term fix. Sarkozy said he hoped the government would actually make a profit on the loans handed out — pour vous, he said, referring to taxpayers, I assume.

Free-market, hands-off policies as regards the private sector are called libéralisme in French. The meaning of the term is just the opposite of what "liberalism" means in American English. Under the French definition, the political authorities leave private companies libres — free to do what they judge best, without government interference. Or help, in theory.

I guess all that is out the window at this point.

Here's a quote from an article in the French paper La Croix:
Selon M. Sarkozy, qui a insisté sur sa volonté d'accomplir le programme sur lequel il avait été élu en 2007, il s'agit de "mettre l'argent public dans le travail".

"La meilleure politique sociale, c'est celle qui permet de continuer à investir dans l'industrie. On met de l'argent au service du développement plutôt que dans dans des politiques dites sociales qui ne font que retarder le drame" des conséquences sociale de la crise, a-t-il dit.

In English, that is:
According to Mr. Sarkozy, who insisted that he fully intends to deliver on the [free-market] policies he advocated during the 2007 election campaign, it's a matter of "putting public money into the work economy."

"The best social programs are ones that allow continuing investment in industry. We use tax monies to encourage private-sector development rather than pay for classic welfare programs that only postpone the negative effects" on employment and public well-being in times of economic crisis, he said.


  1. EADS is an EU company not US, though it owns a few US companies and does a lot of business there.

  2. Oops, Andy Marshall, thanks. I've revised my posting. For some reason, I confused EADS with Ross Perot's company called EDS. I think all the talk these days about General Motors, which bought EDS from Perot more than 20 years ago, got me confused.

  3. Mobile Alabama almost got an EADS deal to make airbuses, but now it's held up because Boeing messed up their bid. Boeing is supposed to resubmit a bid, but they are having or are close to striking. Mobile was quite happy about the EADS deal since it would bring lots of jobs and money into their economy.

    I don't agree with Sarkozy's policies toward welfare. I probably don't agree with much of what Sarkozy stands for, but time will tell.

    He does seem energetic and that is a good thing.

  4. Evelyn

    It would have been a modified A330 plane built as an airborne refuelling tanker. 179 tankers ( labelled as K-30) would have been built by EADS and Northrop Grumman in Alabama over the next 10-15 yrs.

  5. Thanks for the clarification, Beaver. I know nothing about plane construction, but do remember now that the plane was going to be HUGE.

    I wonder if these planes will ever be built now that the economy is so weak?


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