Wednesday, June 05, 2013

France and Its International Image: A nation for whom richness is more of a scandal than poverty

France has to deal with an international image little interested in the creation of riches and reputed for making life difficult for entrepreneurs and companies, writes Marion Van Renterghem in a two-page spread in Le Monde, and symbolized in foreign business circles by the red flag nicknamed 75%.
It's an old story: the economy does not play a part in France's founding myths. Go see the list of great men — including two women — who have lain in the Pantheon: they include writers, politicians, scientists, resistants, doctors, navigators, soldiers. Never a businessman, never an entrepreneur.

 … The gold rush, lionized in America, is not a French dream and those few Frenchmen who do so dream don't dare tell anybody about it. Rather than winning the West and dreams of success, we prefer arts, weapons, and laws.
 … It is the old story of a nation built by Catholicism and for whom, by contrast with Anglo-Saxon Protestants, richness is more of a scandal than poverty.

 … Says Philippe Lentschener … friend of Arnaud Montebourg and McCann group CEO: … "We are the developed country with the weakest economic personality. We glorify research and intellectual activities, but we drop the link with the money-oriented department. We invent the Minitel, the smart card, 50% of the electronics on the Curiosity robot, but it is the Americans who build Apple, the Koreans who build Samsung. The question is: where is it that our creativity gets lost?"

 … Abroad, France is described as an over-regulated country practicing the heaviest tax rates in the European Union, surtaxing success, where administrative procedures are Kafkaesque, where labor, productive but expensive, is linked to deference for its 35-hour rule, where the social climate is tense and where bosses are sequestered.

 … "When they speak of France, foreign buinessmen bring it down to two numbers," quips Alexis Karklins-Marchay of the Ernst ESPERLUETTE Young audit cabinet: "75 and 35."

 … Adds external commerce minister Nicole Bricq: "In Koweit, I was told: 'I will tell you who you Frenchmen are — you are excellent engineers and awful entrepreneurs."
More excerpts at Le Monde Watch