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Enarque delenda est!

Nothing like a nice bit of Frog-bashing to fire up the commentariat and get the weekend off to a good start.

Alstom, builder of high speed trains (TGV), nuclear plants and cruise liners, was the showcase of French technology. It is now the showcase of French bankruptcy.

Like France, Alstom is badly managed, unable to balance its accounts, and encumbered with debt. Alstom illustrates the failure of French “social-capitalism,” a state driven capitalism that is actually closer to socialism.

Hmm. State-driven capitalism. Where have we heard of that before?

The socialo-gaullist elites, who control French media groups, buy their support by distributing money to Communist (CGT) and Trotskyite (FO) unions, to 7 million public servants (often useless), to 12 million retirees (often pre-retired), plus millions of immigrants living on welfare. But French politicians are so “generous” that even with the highest taxes of any OECD country, they chronically accumulate huge debts in all public entities: state, regions, cities, social programs, public companies. Having been unable to balance any French budget for more than 30 years, they are driving France to a financial crisis that will shake all of Europe.

A very satisfying rant against the enarquist elite ensues, bringing on a moment of nostalgia for past French contributions to the cause of liberty.

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29 comments to Enarque delenda est!

  • Sage

    “…badly managed, unable to balance its accounts, and encumbered with debt.”

    That stings. But only because it describes perfectly my own country’s state of affairs (that of the U.S.). Depressing to consider.

  • G Cooper

    No doubt some joker will be along in a moment to tell us that France has the highest productivity in Europe.

    It’s almost a mantra among Europhiles, who wish we in the UK would adopt their ways.

  • A_t

    🙂 not even gonna try that, though I’m glad it’s an American & not a Brit poking fun at that particular issue; they may manage things badly, but hey! at least they still make a few things, some of them decent quality. What the hell do we still make? The service economy may do us fine for decades to come, but it’s much easier to feel proud of your country when you see exceptional physical products sitting in front of you or hurtling past at 350km/h.

  • R. C. Dean

    it’s much easier to feel proud of your country when you see exceptional physical products sitting in front of you or hurtling past at 350km/h

    You mean like Boeing aircraft and Harley-Davidson motorbikes?

  • Alfred E. Neuman

    Bye bye, France. Your implosion is going to be a doozy. Couldn’t happen to a nicer people, though.

    Hopefully, this very nasty example of how socialism is an abysmal failure (haven’t we already had a few of these examples?) will change some minds about socialist policies in the US, and if soon enough, in Britain as well.

  • Marcus Lindroos

    Depends on what mode of transporation you want to look at, I guess.

    As far as space transportation is concerned, the French “state capitalist” model *has* so far proved more successful than either the NASA model or the U.S. free enterprise format. The problem is how to justify high development costs, with no clearly demonstrated market demand. The Space Shuttle failed because NASA behaved like a monopolist landlord whereas American entrepreneurs so far have been unable to prove spending hundreds of millions on launch vehicle DDT&E is economically worthwhile. But the French managed to develop a good government-financed expendable rocket custom-made for launching commercial satellites, and they were intelligent enough to allow a quasi-commercial profit-driven organization (=Arianespace) to make the important operational decisions. That is how they defeated the U.S. Space Shuttle. They have also held their own against the likes of Andy Beal since developing an Ariane-5 class booster will cost hundreds of millions and the market is relatively small.

    I don’t know if the glass is half full or half empty, but it is an impressive achievement nonetheless. You can add Airbus and Concorde to the same category, BTW.

    MARCU$

  • R. C. Dean

    Depends on what mode of transporation you want to look at, I guess.

    While we are indulging in patriotic chauvinism, I believe the Americans have more basis for feeling patriotic pride based on their transportation industries.

    Planes – check. France and the US both make ’em. Call this one a tossup – I understand that the Airbus planes are quite creditable.

    Trains – check. Believe it or not, the US has a domestic rolling stock industry. To be nice, we will give this one to the French, since their passenger trains are so flashy and well-publicized.

    Automobiles – check again. I don’t think anyone would argue that the Americans regain the lead here. Peugeot? I think not.

    Spacecraft (earth orbit variety) – check yet again. ArianeSpace does not have a recoverable launch vehicle that I know of, so while you may not like the shuttle (and who does), we got it and you don’t. As for expendable rockets, the US has quite the variety of these. I will leave it to more knowledgable aerospace types to call a winner on this one.

    Spacecraft (all others). Much as the NASA model blows, they do get stuff out of earth orbit. Does ArianeSpace? Regardless, I have to believe NASA has crashed more interplanetary probes than the French have launched.

    Just to be extra nice, I am leaving off all variety of military vessels, where the US truly (and literally) flattens the competition.

    And on that jingoistic note, I bid you a fond, err, adieu! 😉

  • “Fire up the commentariat”?

    I’d feel better firing on the French, myself…

    But enough of the frivolity. They’re going to collapse, and drag a whole bunch of people with them.

    Comparison of the French space program and NASA is a classic case of winning an argument by lowering expectations. I note, in passing, that the much-praised Arianespace was not used to ferry astronauts to the space station, but somehow NASA managed to use the shuttle to do just that.

    If the American space program was only lifting sats into orbit, companies like Lockheed would be doing it from their parking lots.

    Incidentally, Ariane boosters have failed in their mission five times over the past six years. NASA fails about once in ten, on missions far more complex.

    Is NASA perfect? By no means. But it’s a hip-pocket expenditure item in the U.S. — which is NOT the case in France with Arianespace.

  • G Cooper

    R.C. Dean writes:

    “And on that jingoistic note, I bid you a fond, err, adieu! ;-)”

    If you *don’t* mind! I’d remind you that the UK has more than a small part to play in the Airbus and (just for the record) the UK is also home to what is, still, arguably the world’s premier aircraft engine manufacturer.

    Airbus a French achievement indeed (mutter…grumble)

  • Kodiak

    R. C. Dean: encore mille mercis for this pompous outbreak of Francophobia.

    Why just mention Alstom in your introduction? Air France too is relevant instance of a French public-owned company which was on the verge of bankruptcy (3-billion-euro loss financed by Frog taxpayers around 1995) and that has nonetheless recently succeeded in becoming n°1 (KLM absorption + Alitalia desperately begging for their turn as they are kept in the waiting room).

    A quote by you: Like France, Alstom is badly managed, unable to balance its accounts, and encumbered with debt.
    Bigrement astucieux!
    Annual change in production unitary cost in % (over 1990-2002): France – 0,8 – USA + 0,2 – UK + 2,3. Reducing production cost is no doubt another French counterperformance.
    Cumulative trade deficits or excedents in billion dollars (over 1990-2002): France + 100 – USA – 3.103 (8 times UK deficit) – UK – 398. French trade management is really bad.
    Share of world exports in % (2002): France 5,1 (5th) – USA 10,8 (1st) – UK 4,3 (6th). NB: France is 4 ½ less populous than the USA & French GDP is 15 % of US GDP, but French exports are 50 % of US exports.
    Share of world imports in % (2002): France 4,9 (5th) – USA 18,0 (1st) – UK 5,1 (3rd). France = 50 % of US imports, but 27 % of US imports. Poor trade performance indeed.
    Oh I forgot to mention the 2002 504-billion-dollar account deficit greatly financed by French & European sparing capacity. Maybe the popcorns you’re eating while watching FoxNews were financed by French money !
    Need I continue with Enron, TWA & the list of US astounding economic failures? Or shall I point out that it’s French Sodexho Alliance who are feeding the demoralised US soldiers in Iraq ?

    Salut Frédo (Alfred): anything more elaborate about French communism? Or were you just being trollish? HA HA HA HA !!!

  • A_t,

    I wish people would stop perpetuating this myth that British companies don’t ‘make’ things. I believe we have several high quality engineering and hi-tech companies which export globally. Further a lot of the components for car manufacturers such as Fiat, Volvo and Renault are made here.

    There are also countless small and medium scale manufacturers making everything from clothes to food products to defence equipment.

    Just because the landscape is not covered with billowing smokestacks (and I bet you would be the loudest of complainants if it was) does not mean that there is no manufacturing in this country.

  • Kodiak

    G Cooper: I’d remind you that the UK has more than a small part to play in the Airbus.

    Bbbbbbbwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhrrrrrrrrrffff !!!

    Oops sorry. Yes, it’s more than small. Certainly mediocre.

  • Kodiak

    David: at least have the decency not to mention Renault when digressing about British economic “performance”.
    There must be some FOREIGN car manufacturers left in the UK (although UK car output is ridiculous for European standards: less than Spain). They choose the UK as they would choose Bengladesh: poor working class exploited to the core, no social rights, striking is a crime etc etc etc.

    G Cooper: and yes UK productivity is a huge stain on West European economic achievements. Close some pubs & learn to work efficiently.

  • Kodiak

    Sorry for overposting but I can’t let that by Kim du Toit one unnoticed: I note, in passing, that the much-praised Arianespace was not used to ferry astronauts to the space station, but somehow NASA managed to use the shuttle to do just that.

    Yep NASA is great to throw people in the atmosphere. But what about getting them back on Earth in one piece (Columbia, Challenger…)? Something that China does pretty well. At least better than the USA.

    Maybe Arianespace should reorient its collaboration programme towards Pékin.

  • Kodiak’

    “at least have the decency not to mention Renault when digressing about British economic “performance”.

    I didn’t say anything about performance, you dolt.

    And I think France is the more appropriate comparison to Bangladesh as it is likely to be a Islamic Republic in ten years time. (But, in fairness, Bangladesh is probably much less corrupt).

  • David: And I think France is the more appropriate comparison to Bangladesh as it is likely to be a Islamic Republic in ten years time.

    That was the best one !!!

    Look at your “country” first, or at least the remainings of it. YOU are invaded by defiant, rampant Islamofascism. They spit on your faces & you don’t even have the guts to make what used to be the British law respected. Terrorists hold public & televised press conferences to threaten you with chemical attacks or suicide bombings without any reaction of yourselves. What a shame !

    The euro is thrashing the pound in Northern Ireland; Londonistan is now the biggest European place for religious fanatism; 95 % of US people can’t even spot their “stalwart ally” on a map; chariah is now a serious rival of common law (see “honour” murders perpetrated on your soil !); you backstabbed your European partners & now you come crying for closer integration; even Rumsfeld despise you & your help.

    You never knew what or if you wanted anything. Now you even don’t know who you are.

    And I maintain what I said previously: the Islamic Kingdom is gangrened by hesitation regarding its own identity & political future.

    And for corruption, I wouldn’t open my mouth that big when I’d think about the cheater-in-thief that deliberately lied to you all (Iraq) & destroyed the ruins of your already dismantled welfare (NHS).

  • Abby

    Kodiak,

    The French economy is swirling the bowl. I can’t imagine how you could have convinced yourself otherwise.

    I wonder if this delusion is shared by the rest of the French collective — much like its belief that France has the best healthcare in the world (which it maintains in spite of the fact that dead old people are stacked up like cordwood outside its morgues).

    If so, this would explain why little has been done about the problem. One can only hope that the US recovery will be strong enough to rescue France from this self-inflicted defeat.

  • Lorenzo

    I must say that I’m becoming quite fond of Kodiak. Samizdata frog-bashing just would not be the same without him!

  • Alan Massey

    G Cooper: I’d remind you that the UK has more than a small part to play in the Airbus.

    Kodiak: Bbbbbbbwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhrrrrrrrrrffff !!! Oops sorry. Yes, it’s more than small. Certainly mediocre.

    BAES own 20% of Airbus, they have also designed the wings for (i believe) all the airbus products. Wing design is one of the most critial elements in any aircraft, and contributes significantly to the success of airbus – not something to be sneered at.

  • Cydonia

    Kodiak

    “Cumulative trade deficits or excedents in billion dollars (over 1990-2002): France + 100 – USA – 3.103 (8 times UK deficit) – UK – 398. French trade management is really bad.”

    I’m no economist, but I thought that a country has a trade deficit because of an inflow of investment. Why do you say that a lack of inward investment is a bad thing? Is being a borrower worse than being a lender? And what’s it got to do with “management” anyway?

  • Rob Read

    I wonder how much of the French economy is being sustained by the inward flows of Money from it’s English neighbour buying up the land because the weather is nice?

    What’s the betting when the UK housing economy collapses it will kill the french economy as well…

  • Kodiak:

    Yep NASA is great to throw people in the atmosphere. But what about getting them back on Earth in one piece (Columbia, Challenger…)? Something that China does pretty well. At least better than the USA.

    China has done that once. Again, an attempt to win an argument by lowering of expectations. When the Chinese have sent up over five hundred astronauts with a 98% success rate (ie. NASA’s), including Moon orbits and / or landings, we can revisit the discussion. Until then, your argument just reveals your naivete and chauvinism.

  • Kodiak

    Abby,

    You see, only epsilon % of the French waste their time with their heads glued on US-like FoxNews-vomiting TV-sets. Hence your surprise at discovering unbrainwashed people & arguments. What’s more astonishing is your own blindness as you fail to realise that your indebted, jobless, low-exporting, bubbled economy is financed by Europe & by cautiously sparing, increasingly productive France in particular. Please be kind enough to yourself and bear in mind we could decide the party is over.

    Alan Massey,

    BAES looks funny with its 20-% share compared to the 80 % remaining that are owned by EADS (ie: France’s Aérospatiale Matra + DASA of Germany + Spanish CASA). To be checked, but EADS capital is partially public-owned (that is 40 %, listed in both in Paris & Frankfurt), the rest (60 %) is divided between French funding (27 %: Lagardère SCA, the French State & some zinzins = investisseurs institutionnels, read: French financial institutions), Daimler Chrysler (27 %) & SEPI (6 %: Spanish State company owning CASA).
    The Brits are doing the wings? Fine. Nantes is performing chemical machining & is handling carbon operations. Madrid works on composites. Cabins’ air-conditioning is processed in Laupheim. Saint-Nazaire deals with sections’ pre-assembly & system-fitting. Buxtehude is fitting cabins with electronic equipmentry. The cockpit & the heart of the fuselage are done in Meaulte. The front & the back are done in Hamburg & Bremen. Horizontal tail group = Spain. Vertical = Germany. As for Toulouse, the head of Airbus, they’re monitoring the whole production chain & performing terminal assemblage. Something like 1.500 companies are orbiting around Airbus to get planes made: 40 % are in Toulouse, 30 % in Hamburg & 15 % in the whole UK.
    And let’s drop the technical aspects of this industrial odyssey. Both political & financial impulse to make Airbus a real winner were French. Airbus would still be a toy manufacturer if the French had waited for the Brits to float any idea or implement any commencement of a shadow of a project. The Germans were far more reliable & audacious.

    Cydonia,

    The US elephantesque trade deficit means that your country needs being financed in order to sustain its vulnerable economy that’s transfused by countries like France. US domestic spending was $ 503 billion higher than national revenues in 2002. Henceforward your country is not only a net importer of goods & services; it’s also a net importer of money provided by cash-fat counties like France.
    The financial patrimony of French households was 145 % of their available income in 1978; it was 380 % in 2001. Non-financial patrimony (basically housing) was 360 % in 1978 & 340 % in 2001. Pension funds are not sought after in France. Still financiarisation has a distinct flavour: life-insurance for instance. The result: French households’ savings are amounting to more than 5 % of the GDP. In parallel, French companies -traditional household cash absorbers- were near unindebted in 2002. Hence the powerful trend to export saved cash in billions, since the deficits caused by the French State are not big enough to pump up all the cash available (contrary to what the neocons myth-making factory wants people to believe through “think-tanks” or more pedestrian FoxNews) . And so does Germany.
    The difference is that the US deficit a) is 50 % higher than the French with respect to GDP size & b) can’t be made up by cash spared (US households & companies alike are immensely indebted).
    Productivity gains are of no help to the US: French hour productivity grew by 62 % between 1980 & 2002 whereas the US one grew by 39 % only.
    Basically France & Germany have a small growth because their economic agents find it more desirable to spare than to spend; their spending finally ends in the USA thus fuelling the jobless “recovery”. So you see neither France nor Germany are in decline; the USA would explode at once should France & Germany be bankrupt.
    All in all, France should compute its savings exports to the USA like foreign aid to needy countries. Her aiding ratio (already 0,50 % of her GDP, compared to the tiny 0,06 % as far as the USA is concerned…) would soar.

    Rob Read:

    The inflow of British money into France ??? You probably mean the inflow of British patients into French hospitals… I suggest both countries launch a bilateral scheme to win some scale savings, like sending some French doctors to cure & feed the 30 % of the British who are starving to death & absolutely deprived of any form of social protection. HA HA HA HA HA HA !!!

    Kim du Toit: who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Certainly not France: we managed to deal with the USA -now a story of the past, we’ll certainly succeed with China too. What about you?

  • Assuredly a one man festival of wishful thinking. The ubiquitously irrelevant Kodiak’s frenetic commenting activity reminds me of one of P.J. O’Rourke’s Parliament of Whores’ quotes, who recently resurfaced on some belligerent bunny blog:

    “How come,” I asked Andy, “whenever something upsets the Left, you see immediate marches and parades and rallies with signs already printed and rhyming slogans already composed, whereas whenever something upsets the Right, you see two members of the Young Americans for Freedom waving a six-inch American flag?”

    “We have jobs,” said Andy.

    Drop the F5 button on this URL and the 56 others Kodiak, and get a job. Or do the one you’re supposedly being paid for.

    Now wait a second… Okay, I take that back: keep posting Kodiak, keep posting your unending mantras.

    You’re the ultimate counter argument of your own preaches on the Industrious World of France.

  • Harry

    And for God’s Kodiak take the plastic bag from over your head it’s cutting off your air, you bonehead. Hey, by the way aren’t the French the world leaders in the production of head cheese?

  • A_t

    David,
    “I wish people would stop perpetuating this myth that British companies don’t ‘make’ things. I believe we have several high quality engineering and hi-tech companies which export globally. Further a lot of the components for car manufacturers such as Fiat, Volvo and Renault are made here.”

    Wouldn’t deny that, but in terms of things you can look at, which make the people proud, which inspire them & make them feel that the country’s productive & doing well… umm… “hey! we mad a bit of a Volvo” doesn’t quite compare to a Swede looking at a Volvo & going “yeah, we can really make things here”. It may be a superficial PR-type difference, but in terms of inspiring younger generations, & just general good feelings of pride within the country, the difference is quite major in my opinion.

    It’s like the difference between the now-defunct shipbuilding industry in the North-East & the current call-centre industry; the call-centre stuff pays the bills all right, but it’s remote working; seen as mainly for the benefit of people elsewhere, & it’s much harder for those involved to take pride in. That’s just the way people work, i’m afraid.

  • Kodiak

    Although A-t focus on subjective self-perception only, he’s 100 % right. In addition to numerous objective & hopeless stigmats of profound decadence tracing back to no later than the XIXth century, the typical Brit can’t find any reason to cheer up & form the thought that one day things could change. Saying that “socialism” or conservatism have failed in the UK prove totally undecisive as both couldn’t tackle the historic degradation. It’s not a question of ideology or policy. It’s just derelictive self-abasement leading to US-poodling, loss of national self-ownership & islamicisation of course.

    Maybe Europe is the only way out left for the Islamic Sultanate of Koranic Britain & Palestinised Ireland ?

  • LOL.

    Yeah, where would frog-bashing be without Kodiak ?

    To be honest, the guy and his drivel have become such a caricature I am starting to think he has been made up. I mean, here he is, always present and ready to prove the point that is being made by behaving like an ignorant, stupid, frothing-at-the-mouth chauvinistic ass, an obvious stereotype of the very kind of French people the rest of the world loves to hate even more than Bill Gates or W.

    OK, so who’s Kodiak ? Step forward to claim your award.

    Come to think of it, it could be a piece of software.

    I mean, garbage in, garbage out.