May 11, 2017

President Emmanuel Macron, listen to me, this is what you should understand before you act.

Sir, Martin Wolf reduces France’s problems to “low employment; the low rate of economic growth; and the sheer scale of public spending” “The big challenges facing France” May 10.

For a starter Wolf recommends Macron to get down on his knees: “The first priority is to pray for a strong recovery” this since “The persistently high unemployment must be at least partly cyclical”

Nothing wrong with praying, but I would suggest Macron first tries to understand more the origin of these problems.

Low employment? It can surely have something to do with an incipient wave of structural unemployment caused by robots and automation, in which case Macron better starts looking for tools to create decent and worthy unemployments, immediately, before things get out of hand.

Wolf writes: “Mr Macron needs to legislate his labour market”, and for that “The most important priority with the former is to reduce protection for permanent workers: few will hire if they cannot hope to fire.” Absolutely, and so perhaps what is needed are some unions that represent the unemployed and those that work less than 50% in the gig economy… and to get a national debate on universal basic income going, taking care of course of not letting that debate fall in hands of threaten redistribution profiteers. 

Low rate of economic growth? With risk weighted capital requirements for banks that favor the refinancing of the safer past and present over the financing of the riskier future, what else can be expected? I would suggest Macron calls in his bank regulators and asks for instance the questions linked here, and, if he cannot get satisfactory answers then he might copycat Trump: “Your fired!”

The sheer scale of public spending? Back to the regulators again: If you risk weigh the Sovereign at 0%, and the SMEs and entrepreneurs at 100%, you are heading to fall off the cliff of excessive public debt… no way to stop that. What would be the interest rates on French sovereign debt if banks had to hold the same capital (equity) against these loans than what they are required to hold against loans o French SMEs or entrepreneurs?

PS. Wolf writes: “Fortune favours the bold. Emmanuel Macron took a huge gamble and won”. Just out of curiosity, what would have been his huge loss had he not won? As I see it his huge loss would result from not doing what France needs.