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In a show of solidarity with French strikers protesting the raising of the national retirement age from 60 to 62, I won't be posting today on WSO. Not my solidarity with them, mind you, but that of my already piss poor Internet Service Provider (Numericable, for those interested). I feel like I'm back in high school writing a term paper on a Commodore 64 with 8kbps dial-up.

I can sympathize with the French workers, however. I mean, you have to draw a line in the sand somewhere. If you let them get away with raising what is already the developed world's lowest retirement age, what's next? A 40-hour work week? The expectation of punctuality? Restrictions against selling cigarettes to kids under 10? Daily bathing requirements? (okay, now I'm getting a little out of hand)

I'm reminded of all the times I've screwed with the Socialists and Communists around town who set up little kiosks to hand out their propaganda. You can tell by the look of them that they're spoiled rich kids whose grandparents were probably collaborators back in the day. When they approach me to hand me their flyers and explain their nonsensical beliefs, I just look at them and say in my sweetest most polite voice, "Non, merci. Je suis un Fasciste." My wife gets pissed, but it's fun to watch the color drain out of their faces.

Power to the people!

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Comments (30)

  • CompBanker's picture

    It really is insanity. The french don't know how good they have it. Every other week is a damn bank holiday.


  • Tier2Sta's picture

    This is funny. But the irony is that Paris still runs far more efficiently than London. We don't have strikes, just congenital idleness in the public sector....

    From the ghetto....

  • happypantsmcgee's picture

    I'm really glad you decided to write about this. Listening to radio on the way in today and this was all they were talking about. I can't imagine how impossibly frustrating it is to be so inconvenienced by people bitching about what is essentially catching up with the rest of the developed world. You can't retire until 62? Gee, I sure can't think of anything better to be upset about right now.

    If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

  • sleeplessinlondon's picture

    tier2sta has it right. at least stuff appears to work sometimes in Paris. London is a joke with regards to all infrastructure/services/utilities/and transportation. It its really dragging down the first world with regards to these things. When tube workers arent on strike, the tube is closed for "planned" maintenance. As if that makes it better that the inability to get from point a-b in a city where cabs require a mortgage is acceptable because its planned. When I moved to london it took BT 5weeks to turn on my internet...yeah 5 weeks without the internet, just like the Congo.

    Also, not sure what taxes are like in France, but the UK really kicks you in the nuts. I'm 24 my income wouldn't raise any eyebrows amongst this crowd, yet already I am paying 68.5% on the last PS's I earn. Sound high? Yeah, sounds high to me too. In reality I only lose about 51% of my last PS earned when it hits my bank account...but as soon as I try to do my part and stimulate the economy by buying something I am mushroom-printed with the sky high 17.5 VAT.

    Then again...someone has to pay for the free health-care/subsidized education/museums/and mandatory cosmetic surgery for the female population at birth. All of these things are nice to see my tax PS go toward. However, Pareto would almost certainly be pulling his hair out nonetheless.

    Also, not really complaining about the 25days vacation.....now if only I could make it to the airport.

  • Gekko21's picture

    Edmundo Braverman:

    When they approach me to hand me their flyers and explain their nonsensical beliefs, I just look at them and say in my sweetest most polite voice, "Non, merci. Je suis un Fasciste." My wife gets pissed, but it's fun to watch the color drain out of their faces.

    Power to the people!

    That gets a SB.

    "Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA."

  • TNA's picture

    I would love to make some flippant Euro bashing statement, but this is just to ridiculous to even comment on. Do French people read newspapers? Do they think this is making them more or less competitive with the rest of the world?

    The French should deploy the military to reestablish all services and anyone protesting in a violent or destructive matter should be arrested.

  • In The Flesh's picture

    These people are ridiculous. How is it these extremists are allowed to burn and pillage with impunity?

    The same people who decry "capitalist greed" show the same greed by recklessly demanding more and more government benefits. And the governments always cave just to shut them up. It's the modern-day equivalent of Bread and Circuses.

    Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

  • Zona82's picture

    I would to hear from the French citizens about their feelings on the future generation.

    From reading this thread, it sounds as if the people protesting are in the age range of high school to late 20's. I would like to believe the people posting on this message board are the top flight of their generation, no matter what country they are posting from; there must be some conflicting views on how the Generation X & Y are progressing. If you wouldnt mind, I would love to hear from some posters about how they feel about the upcoming generations and where they see the country of France moving as a whole.

  • LIBOR's picture

    French government should have pushed for 70 instead of 62. The marginal increase in violence would have been negligible, and then they would have had some room for negotiating.

  • Midas Mulligan Magoo's picture

    This pic says it all about the French.

    The more shit like this happens, the more I think we need to abolish NATO. Europe would get it's collectivist act together pretty quickly if they had to police their own borders in the case of a serious crisis breaking out from this sort of woosy shenanigans.

  • TNA's picture

    Yeah, this is what happens when you have an entitlement society. Imagine is we cut welfare payments, told people you are not going to be paid more for every kid you have and scaled back government to a more reasonable level. We would have mayhem like this garbage.

  • Edmundo Braverman's picture

    I know I joke about it, but it's actually pretty serious. I've heard reports that strikers have blockaded oil imports, and all but one of the oil depots have been shut down. Gas stations in Paris have started running out, and the fuel supply to Charles de Gaulle airport had to be turned on in the middle of the night by management who broke the picket line to turn the fuel flow back on.

    Now the workers are saying that management didn't know what they were doing, and that the fuel CDG has been using to fill the aircraft might be contaminated. Let one of those birds fall out of the sky and this shit goes to a whole other level. (I personally don't believe the workers, so don't sweat it if you're traveling.)

  • GoodBread's picture

    French citizen here. The current situation definitely has me concerned. While this seems like the latest in a very long history of social unrest, never have the claims of the protesters been so ridiculous or their anger so unjustified. I received a letter from a Communist congresswoman, urging me to protest against these reforms as the obligation to work longer would supposedly increase youth unemployment. How anyone can actually believe such a preposterous claim is puzzling but I can think of a few different reasons people want to protest.

    For the high school students, its quite easy. Not going to school and causing mayhem seems awesome for teenagers and any sign that authorities condone this is picked up by French youth with wild abandon. For the larger population though, these protests are in large part due to how weak the French left has been for the past 8 years. Ever since former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin failed to make the second round in the presidential elections of 2002, the left has been scrambling to find a charismatic leader and provide a coherent platform from a policy-perspective. That's why Segolene Royal's presidential bid was doomed for failure. French people are surprisingly literate from a political standpoint and it doesn't take much to know that someone promising a lower retirement age and lower taxes is lying through their teeth. As the Socialist party has slumbered into irrelevance, more marginal groups have token over and tend to resort to less legitimate means of being heard, such as the present protests.

    France needs a strong, moderate Left. If the Socialist party were able to regroup and concede to a few basic economic realities such as the importance of free trade and the need to fund France's social safety net through a higher retirement age and looser labor laws, they were be a credible threat to Sarkozy. France needs this threat because unchecked, Sarkozy is pushing rather esoteric policies which seek to fight the symptoms of civil unrest rather than the causes (systematically harrassing Romanian refugees, etc..).

    I don't think France is doomed but I'm definitely concerned. Worst case scenario, France turns into Greece, except with full-out revolts due to local culture and the police's laziness (in reply to 3Ms assertion, France is more than capable of policing itself and fending off others, they just chose to sit by and watch). However, if a party manages to move to the center and promote the integration of France's disaffected immigrants all the while liberalizing the labor market and increasing the retirement age, things might not be so bad. But I'm not counting on it.

    P.S. Numericable?!? You need an Orange Livebox Edmundo. DSL in France is blazing fast.

  • FabulousFab's picture

    Im' glad you talked about this Braverman. I'm french living in Paris and this strike starts to piss me off! I can't wait to finish my education and go work abroad. I can't stand lazy people who are always crying for something they do not deserve. Marre!

    Silver banana, gold banana, diamond banana, you deserve them all.

  • down on the upside's picture

    seems a lot like May 1968 all over again. Here's hoping the unions can qwell this nonsense otherwise we might just get another republic

  • San Franciscan's picture

    "If you can count your money, you don't have a billion dollars." - J. Paul Getty

  • 16rl's picture

    Let's do a WSO revolution !!!

    On a bit more serious note, I am happy to relate to my fellow frenchmen, this situation is spinning out of hand and reminds me of the CPE nightmare we had back in 2006.

    In class today my teacher spoke about how it would be much easier to implement a pension reform by setting a long term goal. How ? By slowly increasing the retirement age year per year in a monthly increase until the target is reached. Unfortunately now this method is not possible anymore as its a bit too late, pension reforms should have been done around the 80's, when governments started realizing there was a problem with the current pension system.

  • buenretiro1688's picture

    I think we can all agree that mass riots is not a good reaction to the change in the retirement age but here is my question: is there a trade here and if there is what is it? Are there French companies that could be negatively affected by the damages from the riots such as insurance giant AXA or maybe a (God forbid) one of those planes falls out the sky you could short Air France. If there is not a trade with the current situation could it worsen ala Greece and then do new strategies emerge. This is just my crude initial thoughts but I am curious what the WSO community thinks.

  • GoodBread's picture

    As far as trades go, I don't think we're in worsening credit spreads territory quite yet. That being said, give it a couple weeks and this could start having a significant impact on Q4 GDP. Easiest move would probably be option plays, whether it be on France as a whole through ETFs or on specific stocks, think energy and education. Depending on how long the turmoil lasts, expect some subpar earnings next quarter.

    Also, if Sarkozy pusses out (unlikely) and the reform doesn't become effective, short EUR/GBP, short French OATs (not sure there's anyway to put that on currently), big boy stuff because finding the political capital to save France's social safety net will be become exceedingly difficult.

  • Machine's picture

    Cool Video!, used to live near "Place Bellecourt" too...

  • Edmundo Braverman's picture


    As always, your insights into the French side of things are most welcome. I agree that Sarkozy won't back down, and the left doesn't have the power to force him to back down any more. I find it ironic that he's considered a "right wing" president here in Europe when he'd be a center-left Democrat (at best) in the States.

    I'll give your recommendation of Orange some serious thought. I hesitate to sign up with any AT&T entity (I think Orange is owned by AT&T, no?), but I'm so fed up with Numericable that I'm willing to try anything.

    @SanFran - Awesome video dude. Riots are so much fun when you're in your early 20's.

  • GoodBread's picture

    In spite of the color scheme, Orange is actually the mobile phone/internet brand of France Telecom. I had Neuf Cegetel's Neuf Box for a while but switched to Orange. All the DSL providers are pretty solid, especially if you're on one of the high-speed networks.

  • GoodBread's picture

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  • koske's picture

    - Only time will tell....

  • Buyside CFA's picture