Nelson Schwartz has a great piece in today's New York Times about the speed with which France implemented its stimulus package--and the outsize pride (bordering on cockiness) the French appear to be taking in that accomplishment:
“America is six months behind; it has wasted a lot of time,” said Patrick Devedjian, the minister in charge of the French relance, or stimulus. By the time Washington gets around to doling out most of its money, Mr. Devedjian sniffed, “the crisis could be over.” ...
The confidence evident in the words of Mr. Devedjian, a close adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy, echoes a broader pride among French business and political leaders that their government has done a better job dodging the worst of the economic turmoil than its European neighbors like Britain, Germany and Spain.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development expects France’s gross domestic product to drop 4 percent from the peak of the economic cycle, far less than the 7.4 percent plunge expected in Germany, the nation’s economic rival.
The economic decline and loss of jobs are also likely to be significantly milder than in Spain, Belgium and Britain, according to the group, a Paris-based intergovernmental research and policy advisory agency for the world’s industrialized countries. (By comparison, the American economy is expected to shrink by 3.5 percent before starting to grow again.) ...
“The country that is behind is the U.S.,” he said, “not France.”
Just one question: If you're a European country, does it make sense to boast about your economic successes while major economies all around you are plunging deep into recession? And I don't just mean for the sake of tactfulness. My sense is that the European economies are all pretty interconnected. If Spain, Belgium, Britain, and Germany are mired in a deep funk, it's hard to believe the French economy will defy that gravitational pull for too long. Either that or France will need to dole out enough stimulus to prop up the entire continent.