Vive la France! (and Greece, and Ireland, and Spain…)

photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Even Brazil is ecstatic over Francois Hollande’s election.

Brazil hopes to have an ally opposing austerity measures on the international stage.

In her congratulatory message sent to the newly elected French president, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff wrote, “I am certain we share positions that will allow us to work together in international forums, such as the G-20, to make changes to the recession-causing policies that prevail today and that were so unfortunate for Latin American countries in the past.”

Germany’s Angela Merkel sent a message, too, with an entirely different tone – lecturing Hollande that he assumes leadership “at a time full of challenges.” Duh.

Merkel, and the European Central Bank, want Hollande to ratify the German-proposed austerity package that protects the “eurozone” banks at the expense of social programs. Der Speigel is quoting many bankers and making a big deal over the slumping financial markets this week in order to put pressure on France. But all those quotes can’t drown out the voice of the people in France and Greece stating the obvious: the austerity doesn’t work.

Hollande goes to Berlin on May 15th. Perhaps he will remind Merkel that France never ratified the austerity program. And he was elected to do the opposite.

Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winner in economics, and the only good read in the New York Times, finds it amusing that mild-mannered Hollande was characterized as “dangerous” by the press in the run-up to France’s election on Sunday.

Krugman writes, “Europe’s voters, it turns out, are wiser than the Continent’s best and brightest. … [C]laims that slashing government spending would somehow encourage consumers and businesses to spend more have been overwhelmingly refuted by the experience of the past two years. So spending cuts in a depressed economy just make the depression deeper.”

Krugman goes on to describe the difference between Ireland’s pretend economic recovery, and Iceland’s actual one. The difference is that Iceland was free to devalue its currency and allowed its banks to fail. Iceland’s recovery is in full swing. Ireland’s people are suffering under Germany’s austerity programs, even though the press keeps pointing to Ireland as proof that austerity is working.

The Germans seem to be the last to admit that slashing the budgets of other countries isn’t helping the people or fixing these economies.


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