What do French Socialists want anyway? (Arnaud Montebourg interview) — Volkswagen Fox-EU

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What do French Socialists anyway? (Arnaud Montebourg

French Socialist Arnaud with his partner (and Audrey Pulvar.

“French economics” may seem like a in terms. But even the more in the Socialist Party are promoting a concrete mix of Krugmanite Keynesianism and mercantilism that practically people’s concerns about offshoring, the banksters and cuts to services. Whether or not one agrees it, it deserves to be taken seriously.

is a translation of an in-depth interview on themes with Arnaud the Socialists’ “most successful proponent of “deglobalization” and now a minister in Hollande’s government.

French is now something that has to be understood and with because, if nothing a self-styled Socialist now works in the and France, along with co-leads the flawed currency whose contradictions could drag the entire global into crisis.

But, Socialism,” the very words up, especially in English, images of impracticality and incompetence.  Indeed, has been abandoned by the mainstream in the Kingdom and is a swear-word in the United (see the recent uncomfortable of liberal arch-pundit Jon Stewart away his profession of being a to current Fox News chief Ailes in 2000…).

Much of is exaggerated and misplaced. In French the “Socialist” in most contexts has the neutral connotation as any party e.g. “Democrat.” French certainly have a radical and noble tradition with the Commune of 1871, Jean opposition to the Great War in 1914, Blum’s 1936 Popular and François Mitterrand’s failed economic experiment. But since at 1983 the French Socialists been a perfectly normal of government, trading places the conservatives every few years, no particular hint of radicalism. after declaring “war on the of finance” as his “greatest enemy,” François Hollande was roundly for going on to tell the Financial that “I’m not dangerous”. He the Socialist’s previous bout in under Lionel Jospin, had engaged in significant privatization.

government is definitely, far and away, the moderate end of the spectrum. However is also a radical edge to the Party.

Jean Jaurès, a general and international strike World War I, being assassinated by old virgin Raoul Villain.

In there is Arnaud Montebourg. He is of for many reasons. For one because he third in the Socialist primaries year, achieving this a position of relative obscurity, finalists François Hollande and Aubry were aided by fame and big party machines. succeeded thanks to more rhetoric including a bestselling entitled Vote for Deglobalization! Socialist, against globalization? All the bells of the Anglosphere’s commentariat are

Montebourg also turned for accusing Angela Merkel of a “ politique à la Bismarck ” (e.g. and nationalist) for which he was in turn of being anti-German. Though the may have been risqué . he was one of the first pols to reach is now the consensus position: that denial and brinkmanship are the principle for the continuing euro crisis (For example, in this the Socialist and the Anglo-liberal publication of are actually in agreement. The Economist wrote in a flagship piece: brinkmanship is corroding the belief the euro has a future, which the cost of a rescue and hastens the collapse she says she wants to

More recently, Montebourg to my attention for a debate with a from the center-right newspaper Allgemeine Zeitung (video, ). The most stunning thing was to him say what has long been in European circles in discussing the of the eurozone crisis and was very using many of the same as Paul Krugman (sometimes citing him).

Montebourg gave an detailed and fairly interview with the FAZ . apparently available in French. which I was so interesting it should be available in It expresses as clearly as you’ll anywhere the ambition of the more French Socialists for “another and to break with the current international consensus. To summarize:

and social limits mean will be less trade or movement (he might have “but more communication” IT). The place of production become closer to that of

Competition with China is (because it is a dictatorship, has no social or environmental constraints, is a mercantilist and currency manipulator…).

All countries are in protectionism, except the Europeans euro, low tariffs), and the European should respond in kind.

The needs fundamental reform to be notably by allowing the European Bank to stimulate growth and by that not all countries can be net exporters.

The are more moderate than the rhetoric might suggest better and for worse).

I do not agree everything that Montebourg here and some of it is clearly or hyperbolic (e.g. that a transactions tax could “have without any difficulty the repayment of the of the public debts of the eurozone in a few However, this is the rhetoric of a who is trying to get votes, build and govern, and as such should be not to Ivory Tower academics who can the luxury of dispassionate analyses, but to political actors.

In this sense, I think rhetoric is positively clear-headed and when compared to what is by the allegedly “Serious” people in the Council. the current Government of or the U.S. Republican Party. Socialist economic policy deserves to be taken seriously and not shunned or stigmatized out of hand.

Merkel is pursuing a selfish

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: You are “deglobalization”. What does mean?

Arnaud Montebourg: is first of all a moderation of globalization. is to say that we have to reach a of the world economy where the continental groupings continue to but are going to do so in a more reasonable

Because of the sharp rise of costs, transport costs, and taxation, such as the carbon the world is going to have to towards an economic model the place of consumption is going to be to the place of production.

We’re not to be able to have companies who go to countries in terms of labor in order to reimport into the where buying power high because of the good of wages and of social protection. model is not viable. The rise of protectionism in the world is then

Henry Ford with his T.

FAZ: And this is desirable for

AM: Yes, it is desirable and necessary. a model which uses a low cost of labor but no longer its employees cannot sell its Henry Ford used to say “I pay my well because I want to buy Ford cars”. The opposite today is leading to the crisis of because wages in the world are to consume what economies

Deglobalization is also desirable globalization is a factor for excess and The countries which are in surplus serve as springboards for growth [ de croissance ] for the countries that in and over-indebted. Otherwise the surplus will no longer be able to to anyone anymore because will have lost outlets.

FAZ: Do you want to the WTO?

AM: We above all need to the European Union’s trade We cannot reindustrialize the European if we do not have the ability to protect Presidents Kirchner in Argentina and in Brazil have decided to tax goods entering the country, Apple products. Apple decided to build factories in and Argentina. It’s also President Obama is doing.

What does this for China?

AM: Europeans’ first is to unite in order to restore to the terms of the trade deficit in surplus-China: France and Germany have 20 billion [euro] with China. China its 2 trillion dollar surplus not be able to continue taking our picking and choosing among companies, offshoring our means and taking our market shares by our prices thanks to an economic based on quasi-slavery and dictatorship.

“Suicide nets” outside of a factory.

FAZ: Perhaps like imports. This their choice and this prices.

AM: It’s not consumers who govern our countries. We have to first of all about our producers than our consumers. Like the do. It’s a compliment to the German model. We have savoir-faire to and to restore in Europe. Do we prefer the iPhone or our social protection, our and our way of life?

FAZ: Can’t we ourselves by becoming more

AM: You will never be as competitive as the or the countries which practice impunity social, environmental and dumping.

FAZ: And with Development and the production of high-end

AM: I am sorry, but we can’t all buy BMWs and We also need Clios and [successful small Renault We have to produce goods are attainable relative the wages we distribute.

FAZ: Today countries are strong because are open to competition, because forces them make an

AM: The European Union is a big market, within it is already very It’s as though you were me that American companies are because the American economy how to protect itself. This is not the They have 300 million and they are ultra-protectionist, like the the Indians, Canada, and the major of South America. All countries in protectionism – except the Europeans,

FAZ: Is not your scenario a bit

AM: Europe as entered recession. will follow soon, the recession in Europe will its natural market. If there is no one to buy its products in Europe, Germany begin to sag like the others.

What are the causes of the recession?

AM: The is caused by the austerity policy Europe. The governments and especially Merkel have the wrong They are not really treating the

FAZ: What is the real

AM: The differences in salary levels and of social protection between countries. Germany’s policy of disinflation over ten years has a problem for its partners. The German are linked to external deficits in all the countries. All the other countries of the have a deficit, except the

Currency [policy or devaluation] can no address the unbalances because it is a currency. And Germany’s policy of deflation has had as a consequence to put thousands of in a situation of loss of their rights and the levels of their

FAZ: But there are more

AM: But they are working for nothing. at the “1 euro jobs”. They work, but cannot get healthcare, cannot live normally.

Look at the high bonuses Volkswagen workers receive…

AM: It is Volkswagen has considerable profits.

But these are the benefits of globalization.

AM: You the example of Volkswagen. But I mentioned to you the 1.5 Germans who have been from the unemployment rolls benefits], people who are over 50, but who are not yet in I am talking to you of the victims of the Hartz IV These people are not benefiting globalization.

And this contributes to imbalances. We are financing German with our imports, but why couldn’t we ask to increase its salaries to develop its consumption and prevent the recession worsening in Europe?

Our social and our wages serve as outlets for the economy, even as the German level should be stimulating the of Europe and serve as a springboard for This is incidentally what we in the common text of the French Party] and the German [Social Party]. This means cooperation between surplus and countries.

FAZ: How do you want to the imbalances?

AM: We have an external of 70 billion [euros]. We are going to to consume less German We are going to try to replace them French products. At the same you will have to increase to consume more French Otherwise these imbalances end up breaking up the eurozone. Germany have a kind of prosperity is] to the detriment of its partners and neighbors are its primary customers. Otherwise it is off the branch that it is sitting on.

But you cannot force French to no longer buy German products?

AM: We are to ask Germany, in exchange for our cooperation and our to have another wage That is to say to share a part of the

FAZ: In Germany, it is not the government decrees wage policy.

AM: I but there is no minimum wage in It should be created as in other countries. It would be necessary. We need to guarantee social . This is present in the agreement the PS with the German SDP, on 21 2011.

FAZ: Merkel and Bismarck, you put in the same bag. Do you still this opinion?

AM: I believe Merkel’s policy is selfish and national. She is only interested in the of Germany and is contributing unfortunately to its and isolation.

FAZ: Germany is in all the actions, in the bailouts of Greece and countries. Since always has been contributing more and to the European budgets. Is that

AM: The German right is selfish in its strategy. That is to say that it its costs in a unilateral way. It nuclear power in a unilateral way to towards Russian gas and has imposed in a way the wrong answer to the crisis.

The government is not following a viable in the long term. Even Lagarde, who heads the IMF, so recently. And yet Germany has a European Because it is the leading European If Germany wants to conserve the it has no other choice than to a European policy.

The rise in value before and during the crisis.

FAZ: Many believe that Germany no has much influence in Europe.

AM: The Central Bank functions to exclusively German objectives, from the Bundesbank. The euro and its rate, which is overvalued, according to German interests. the conception of competitiveness is not our own. is a great deal.

We are asking for a on all the fundamental economic parameters: costs, currency, protectionism, policy. Either we make with reciprocal concessions, or the right has decided to impose its on all the others. But this will not

There are countries which stay in the eurozone at this The consequence will be that the will not be able to survive. The of European construction is the history of We are being asked to align on the interests of the German right. will not be possible.

The victory of Hollande, if it were to come on 27 March 2012], will be the that the French do not want to their policy dictated by the right which is putting in danger.

FAZ: A lot of Germans to abandon the euro.

AM: Some as well. But we Socialists want to the euro. We will only be to do so through reciprocal concessions. And which is in a position of strength, accept concessions. It’s up to it to them this time.

And if Germany does not make

AM: Then we will unfortunately the euro sooner or later. will start with a peripheral country which leave then public will realize that can recover quickly through devaluations. Germany will be by these countries and isolated in

FAZ: Germany has lived a strong Deutschmark in the past.

AM: would lose out with the end of the Germany too. I want us to for the common interest.

FAZ: How do you see the of the ECB?

AM: We want to change the of the ECB. That it not only against inflation but also growth, like the Federal does in the USA. And that the ECB talking with heads of and Government to find balance [ sic ].

FAZ: What should be against public deficits?

AM: The are not all poorly run, because of them are indebted because rescued the banking system. If we had put in the tax on financial transactions, this have funded without any the repayment of the entirety of the public of the eurozone in a few years.

FAZ: But the have for years lived their means and created before 2008. And now investors can financing these deficits, as in

AM: Greece is a separate case was not dealt with in time. not forget that Spain had a before the crisis. The Greek is a drop of water, a molecule in the of debt, compared to the 4.599 euros that have swallowed up by the bailouts of the financial

But for other countries, investors never stopped financing debt. The solution is to take the of the public debt due to the bailout of the to put it in a common pot and have it financed by the sector.

FAZ: But at the same you want the banks to finance the economy. How is this possible?

AM: It is the that put us in this situation. start by finding those where they are.

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