mercredi 9 mai 2012

François Hollande attendu à Athènes (de toute urgence)





MAROUN LABAKI (Le Soir)

Pendant que les Français élisaient François Hollande, les Grecs disaient massivement « non », dimanche, à l’austérité imposée à leur pays par l’Union européenne et le FMI. Toute personne normalement constituée peut approuver la remise en ordre des finances publiques de son pays, rationnellement, et en même temps refuser de voir son salaire ou sa pension raboté de 20 %. C’est humain.

Cette cure d’austérité était-elle juste ? Touchait-elle les vrais responsables des magouilles grecques, du désastre grec, ou seulement le « menu fretin » ? Ces questions, qui plus est, étaient légitimes. Enfin, nombreux sont ceux qui proclamaient, en Grèce et ailleurs, que le remède tuait le malade « à feu doux », précipitant l’économie grecque dans une spirale sans nul espoir.

Les Grecs, cependant, n’ont dit « non » ni à l’euro ni à l’Europe.

Il faut prendre acte du résultat de leurs législatives, le respecter comme chaque expression de la démocratie, et se garder de toute stigmatisation de la Grèce ou des Grecs – ce dernier conseil valant essentiellement pour les Allemands et les autres « Triple A » de la zone euro…

Il faut surtout s’atteler à la recherche d’une issue ! Depuis deux ans, on nous répète que la Grèce doit rester dans la zone euro, dans l’intérêt de la Grèce, tout autant que dans celui de la zone euro. Tenons-le pour acquis. Il n’est d’autre issue, dès lors, que la renégociation des termes de l’austérité imposée à la Grèce, du « mix » discipline-solidarité voulu par Angela Merkel et Nicolas Sarkozy, son junior partner maintenant congédié. Il faut être deux pour danser le tango : chaque partie devra y mettre du sien.

François Hollande candidat a abondamment critiqué l’austérité à tout crin. Il a souvent aussi évoqué le cas grec comme un contre-exemple de solution.

Que le nouveau président français s’empare à présent du problème grec ! Qu’il nous montre, au-delà des formules qui flattent l’oreille, ce qu’il a dans le ventre ! La Grèce et l’Union lui sauraient évidemment gré de toute initiative. Et il pourrait ainsi, dans l’hypothèse d’un succès, asseoir très rapidement l’autorité internationale qui lui fait encore défaut.

COMMENTAIRE DE DEIVERITY

LES LIGNES VONT BOUGER

Pas de doute, les lignes vont bouger en Europe et sans doute beaucoup plus rapidement qu'on ne l'avait imaginé.

L'élection de Hollande à la présidence française devrait entraîner très rapidement un changement de cap politique au niveau européen.

On aimerait entendre la voix de Verhofstadt, de Cohn Bendit et celle du Parlement européen; celle de Van Rompuy sur ce sujet. Le chef des sociaux démocrates allemands Sigmar Gabriel," leader of the opposition Social Democrats, said on Monday that the result in France showed that “the politics of Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy led Europe deeper into crisis.” The victory for Mr. Hollande will “not only change France, but finally help Europe to go in another direction,” Mr. Gabriel said.

Il aurait fallu l'autorité internationale de DSK pour réussir la transformation spectaculaire de cet essai magistral. Mais le Mendes France providentiel s'est mis hors jeu en se sabordant tout seul.

Pour le tout nouveau président français c'est un défi rooseveltien qui s'annonce à la vitesse de la lumière.

On le sent, Merkel cèdera et bien plus vite que prévu. Hollande a tout intérêt à s'entourer de grande pointures économiques et financières pour réussir là où l'échec entraineraitun désastre européen.

Surtout il lui faudra une majorité forte à l'assemblée. L'appui d'Obama lui est dès à présent assuré (cf article du NYT)

Gagner le troisième tour devient donc son premier objectif.

CHANGE IN PARIS MAY BETTER FIT U.S. ECONOMIC POSITIONS

By ANNIE LOWREY (NYT)

WASHINGTON — With the victory of the Socialist candidate, François Hollande, in the French presidential election, the White House has lost one of its closest allies on the Continent, but perhaps gained one with economic policy beliefs more closely aligned with its own.

Mr. Hollande is virtually unknown in Washington, and his policy positions on both domestic and international affairs remain only lightly sketched out. That is in stark contrast to the departing president, Nicolas Sarkozy, whose frequent discussions with and ardent defense of the White House earned him the nickname “Sarko the American” back home.

But in the past few months, Mr. Sarkozy has parted from the White House in his support of the German-led austerity project in the debt-soaked euro zone, a project that the White House objects to on the grounds that cutting budgets too soon will lead to sluggish growth and high unemployment across Europe without satisfying the demands of skittish bond investors.

Mr. Hollande, in contrast, ran on a promise of rebalancing Europe away from austerity and toward growth, and his narrow victory is seen in Washington as a public rejection of governments imposing strict cuts on battered economies.

Austerity need not be Europe’s fate,” Mr. Hollande said shortly after his victory. To that end, he has said he plans to renegotiate the fiscal pact Europe struck this winter to allow for more budgetary breathing room for countries that can still borrow money to support themselves at reasonable rates on the debt markets. He also supports measures to support growth by, for instance, bolstering infrastructure spending.

The Obama administration had pushed for such pro-growth policy changes even as Mr. Sarkozy joined Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany in calling for deep spending cuts.

If every time economic growth disappoints, governments are forced to cut spending or raise taxes immediately to make up for the impact of weaker growth on deficits, this would risk a self-reinforcing negative spiral of growth-killing austerity,” Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner told a Congressional committee in March, comments echoed since then in his statements at many international forums.

The administration hopes, in broad terms, that this election will change the conversation “

(...)Mr. Hollande seems “naturally more palatable to the administration,” said Justin Vaïsse, the director of research for the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution. The administration seems to reason that “Europe probably has a better chance of avoiding a breakup or another renewed sovereign debt crisis by focusing on growth, rather than just sticking to austerity,” he said.

(...)The Obama administration looks forward to working with Mr. Hollande, and doesn't believe that making changes to the fiscal compact would spook markets or threaten the validity of the overall agreement, which helped bring down sovereign debt yields this winter.

(...) Mr. Hollande has a reputation as conciliatory and consensus-driven, and Obama administration officials stressed that they expected a close ally in his government.

(...)President Obama called Mr. Hollande after his victory and invited him to meet with him in Washington in advance of international meetings there and in Chicago this month. (NYT)

AFTER ELECTIONS, EUROPE FOCUSES ON GROWTH

Benoit Tessier/Reuters

François Hollande, France’s president-elect, leaving his campaign headquarters in Paris on Monday. He has found favor with those who support stimulus spending.

By NICHOLAS KULISH

Published: May 7, 2012

BERLIN — In the volatile aftermath of raucous elections, which nearly destroyed the political establishment in Greece and ended 17 years of conservative reign in France, the emphasis across Europe, even in the austerity heartland of Germany, has shifted to the very real problem of growth for the stagnant Continent.

John Macdougall/Agence France-Presse

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who backs austerity policies, said a pact on deficit reduction “is not negotiable.”

But there are few ready answers for how to turn around recessionary economies during a major sovereign debt crisis, and it will take weeks of contentious wrangling to determine whether the Germans can be pressed to make more than cosmetic changes to their focus on fiscal discipline for all.

At the ascetic end are modest concessions by Germany to repackage existing initiatives to be more supportive of growth. At the opposite extreme, particularly in countries plagued by soaring unemployment, are calls to unleash the European Central Bank to intervene more aggressively in bond markets and for governments to use the credit of the strongest European countries to support growth in the weaker ones through common “euro bonds.”

François Hollande, who defeated President Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday’s runoff election in France, has provided a rallying point for those across Europe who support stimulus spending to promote short-term growth as the way out of the crisis. But he will face a difficult path if he cannot budge Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany away from her insistence on austerity.

By himself, Hollande cannot change the world,” said Peter Bofinger, a prominent economist on Ms. Merkel’s independent council of economic experts. “There are laws of economic gravity, and if he alone says, ‘I’m willing to accept higher deficits,’ the risk is high that the markets will force him to give in.”

Mr. Bofinger said that what was needed was to slow down spending cuts for countries in the midst of recession and “a transfer of fiscal sovereignty to the euro-area level” as a step toward euro bonds. But he said that such an approach was still extremely unpopular in Germany.

Ms. Merkel left no doubt about whether she was ready to embrace the most radical measures, strongly rejecting Mr. Hollande’s suggestion that European leaders reopen a compact on deficit reduction that they adopted in March.

(...)Mr. Hollande’s victory is a significant moment in Europe’s continuing efforts to manage the crisis, ejecting Ms. Merkel’s closest collaborator, Mr. Sarkozy, from office. But it remains to be seen whether Mr. Hollande’s election is a real turning point or Ms. Merkel is able to stick to austerity while making only symbolic gestures toward flexibility on the margins.

Everyone’s talking about some kind of space between structural reforms, like liberalizing labor markets, and the kind of direct stimulus Germans call crude Keynesian measures on the other hand,” said Hans Kundnani, a Germany expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations in London. “I’m not sure what space there is between those two.”

German intransigence also reflects a shift in recent years toward greater self-assurance and a willingness to pursue the country’s own interests more overtly than it had in the postwar era. “Germans have become in a sense much more confident about saying, ‘This is what we think, and we don’t care if you agree with us,’ ” said Mr. Kundnani. “Economists who disagree with them are perceived as being anti-German.”

But discontent has soared in Europe, evident in the high number of voters supporting radical parties both in the first round of voting in the French presidential election and in Sunday’s vote in Greece, which brought an extreme-right party, the ultranationalist Golden Dawn party, into Parliament in Athens for the first time.

In the meantime, the number of prominent politicians demanding new stimulus measures has grown. In Rome, Prime Minister Mario Monti, a technocrat appointed in November as the euro crisis deepened, said the outcome of the French vote was a “call for a reflection on European policies.”

Responsible public finances are a necessary condition, but certainly not sufficient for the key objective: sustainable growth that creates employment and is orientated toward social equality,” Mr. Monti said. “For this reason it is fundamentally important that Europe urgently adopts concrete policies for growth.”

Ms. Merkel’s political opponents at home also said a shift was necessary. Sigmar Gabriel, leader of the opposition Social Democrats, said on Monday that the result in France showed that “the politics of Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy led Europe deeper into crisis.” The victory for Mr. Hollande will “not only change France, but finally help Europe to go in another direction,” Mr. Gabriel said.

Alan Cowell contributed reporting from Paris, Elisabetta Povoledo from Rome, and Raphael Minder from Madrid. NYT

COMMENTAIRE

AUSTERITY NEED NOT BE EUROPE’S FATE,(F.H.)


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