Friday, August 12, 2005

The Young Fleeing Institutional Malaise

Susan Bell in Paris writing for The Scotsman reports a phenomenon that closely matches the experience my generation had in Germany. There seemed to be nothing real to do and there was more nihilism that anyone could do anything about, or that some people could bear.

It’s also a sign that a new liberalism might emerge from the young both in the country and eventually from those who bring back renewed values from abroad.

France's young set off on 'bon voyage' to better life

«FRANCE is facing an unprecedented new-generation exodus as many of its disillusioned younger people leave in search of a better life abroad.

Fed up with a country they describe as rigid, racist and old-fashioned, French youngsters are opting for a new start in Britain, Canada, America or New Zealand where they can find housing and jobs more easily than in France.

Unemployment among the under-25s in France stands at 23.3 per cent, and 40 per cent of 18-30 year-olds describe their financial state as "difficult".

Many cite French employment practices as being at the root of the problem.

The French tradition of offering university graduates low- paid short-term work experience, rather than full-time employment, is also blamed for the precarious financial situation in which many young French people find themselves. A massive 36 per cent of the working population aged from 25-29 say they have no job security, and 43 per cent say they have changed companies at least three times since starting work.

[One interviewee] sent off five CVs to Canadian companies as an experiment and receive five job offers - a far cry from France where a mailing of 22 CVs resulted in only one offer. "I have trouble selling the quality of my work here," he said. "In France, they prefer to stress how many years experience you have." »
There are also social problems. Bell point to ‘image’ being an issue, but oftentimes people’s suspicions originate in experience.

«Sociologist Olivier Galland believes a cultural gap is opening up between the young and the rest of French society.

"Eighteen- to 30-year-olds have an image of a rigid, authoritarian country lacking flexibility," he said. "They are looking for a more flexible hiring system... and they head for those countries where the culture of little jobs is more developed."

Young French people are also drawn to move by a climate of tolerance and dynamism which they can miss in French society.

"I feel I'm living in an ageing country which sinks further every day, where people are worn out," said Valerie, 34, a nursery school teacher who plans to emigrate to Quebec.»
If their government really cared about people as much as they’d like to think they do, they should try something different. A life on the dole isn’t just a difficult social complex and a problem, but a disservice to the hopes young people could otherwise have, and the possibilities that they could look forward to. How else could their creative energy permit itself to be expressed? Yes, further institutional management?

Clearly there is a growth problem. The data for this quarter (as well as the past decade) shows that given all the same inputs, the results are being hampered by theories which have to change to mitigate the growth of not just social malaise, but poverty.

French Growth Slowed in Second Quarter on Consumer Spending
«Gross domestic product increased 0.1 percent from the first quarter, when it rose 0.4 percent, statistics office Insee said in Paris today. Economists had expected a 0.2 percent gain, according to the median of 29 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.

Economic growth in the dozen nations sharing the euro slowed to 0.3 percent in the second quarter from 0.5 percent in the first, the European Union's statistics office said yesterday. The German economy, Europe's largest, stagnated in the second quarter from the first, when it grew 0.8 percent.

Growth in the euro region will probably accelerate to the fastest pace in almost two years at the end of 2005, the European Commission said yesterday.

To help underpin a recovery from a second-quarter slowdown, the European Central Bank in Frankfurt on Aug. 4 held its benchmark interest rate at a six-decade low of 2 percent. The Frankfurt-based central bank hasn't moved rates since June 2003. »
I’d like to be hopeful too, but once rates are at 2 percent, what other meaningful stimuli are there to be used?
To use a corny old joke, when a guy goes to the Doctor and says “It hurts when I do that”, the first thing the doctor says is “So don’t do that!”

The comparison is to what we know is possible in another populous post-industrial economy which also has technological depth.
«The world's largest economy will grow at a 4.1 percent annual rate this quarter, the most since the first three months of 2004 and up from the 3.5 percent estimated last month, based on the median forecast in the monthly survey. Growth for October through December is predicted to reach a 3.5 percent pace, up from last month's prediction of 3.4 percent.

Central bankers will raise the rate to 3.5 percent today, the 10th straight quarter-point increase, according to the unanimous opinion of 70 economists in a separate Bloomberg poll.

The Fed is trying to stem inflation as growth accelerates even as oil prices rise to a record. Consumer prices are projected to rise 2.9 percent this year, 0.2 percentage point faster than estimated last month, the monthly survey showed.»

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