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French 'Campaign of Seduction' Falls Flat on Wall Street

Apparently, the recent ‘campaign of seduction ’ by France’s Finance Minister during a visit to New York failed to ‘soften the stony hearts’ of American financiers. But, according to this op-ed article from France’s L’Humanite, Mr. Thierry Bretton’s own rhetoric may have undermined his credibility.

By Jean-Pierre Léonardini

September 28, 2005

l'Humanite - Original Article (French)    

French Markets Confront Skeptical Wall Street Investors

Minister Thierry Breton

On his trip to New York for the eighth meeting of Paris Europlace (which promotes the Paris financial market to international investors), Mr. Thierry Breton, Minister for Economics and Finance, had to try and persuade recalcitrant American financiers that "France is one of the most attractive countries for foreign investors," and that "French companies have made significant efforts to reorganize in recent years, such as Vivendi and France Telecom, without either having to declare bankruptcy," and that "despite France’s rejection of the European referendum [the E.U. Constitution], it has not been immobilized, France continues to make reforms."

One can't tell if this campaign of seduction of top [U.S.] officials has succeeded in softening the stony hearts of these gentlemen, nor if Mr. Breton brought back in his briefcase anything more than polite assurances that they will voluntarily cough up the dollars for dear sweet France. If it's handled like Hewlett-Packard, they can keep them.

It's nothing more than a stilted come-on, with no hope of returned affection. The proof is that Mr. Breton has worked against himself by contrasting "French economic patriotism" with "American protectionism," such as the latest glaring example; the U.S. Congress preparing to vote in a tax of 27% on all Chinese products.  How to draw the especially subtle distinction between economic patriotism and protectionism no doubt rests in the hands of American investors, particularly since Mr. Breton suddenly looks like an apologist for China, which does of course buy from Airbus.

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