Thursday, August 09, 2007

Appointing the Fox to the Henhouse

French president Nicolas Sarkozy recently appointed pinko Jacques Attali to a special economic advisory commission. The problem of his predilections is inherent problem number one. Number two is that he’s already done a number on the economy under Mitterand, and is an unreconstructed fantasy-communist skeptic of even the concept or growth. The free market advocacy group Liberté Chérie lays the problem out:

Whereas Philippe Séguin was first nominated to chair a commission on growth, it’s finally been entrusted to Jacques Attali. A quick look as the past gives us fear of what this commission will come up with:

- Jacques Attali advised Mitterrand in 1981 on economic questions, which has unanimously been recognized as a disaster.

- Jacques Attali’s economic projections have always proved wrong. In 1990 he wrote that “to pass the economic reforms before political reforms, China will experience slower development. One can even expect to see a long period of crisis and recession”. Reality bore out quite differently: in the 1990s the Chinese economic growth record was unbeatable reaching 9% to 11% annually. This is only one example of many.

- Jacques Attali was always skeptical of the virtues of the economic growth itself. In a work republished in 1990, he put forward that “economic growth of rich countries creates the conditions of increasing dependence in poor countries”.

- His short term as the head of the European Bank for the Reconstruction and Development (BERD) was a catastrophe: remembered only for especially extravagant expenditures and innumerable wastes of money which forced him to resign.

If Jacques Attali is put to the task of removing barriers to economic growth, it is only because his own ideas are major barriers to economic growth. Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Fillon are making a serious mistake.
And therein lies the problem: it’s cultural. The desire to impress, surprise, and try to make oneself look particularly bright by inverting the obvious is just a sort of attention-seeking pathology held by people who think anyone can be impressed, surprised, and made to seem bright this way.

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