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You can always count on self-defeating French nationalism

As I suggested yesterday on the immigration issue, a danger during harsh economic times is that political leaders play the nationalist card, not just on the immigration – or emigration issue – but also on the purchase of so-called national “champions” by foreigners. It was the protectionism of the early 1930s in America, copied by many other nations, that helped transform would have been a relatively short, if unpleasant, recession into a global slump.

It appears that Nicolas Sarkozy, French president, has learned very little about this episode. He wants France (ie, the benighted French taxpayer) to create a national fund to prevent French firms from being taken over. So if cash-rich Middle East, Asian or other businesses want to invest in say, an under-capitalised French firm, then Sarko would rather the French state owned it instead. Quite how this squares with the European Union’s single market rules is unclear. But then, ever since the credit crunch, whatever “free market” credentials the EU project ever had would appear to be totally dead.

There are times when, in one of my less admirable moments, I pray that certain politicians suffer a grisly end. It is not big of me, I know, but boy it is hard sometimes.

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