1/5/2012 7:23 PM ET|
A wild election that could cost us
Forget the Iowa results or the prospects for a drawn-out GOP primary season. For an imminent election that could really rattle your stocks and the market, look to France.
Ready for a really important (and raucous) election?
And, no, I don't mean Tuesday's Republican primary in New Hampshire.
I'm talking about a race in which one contender has compared his opponent to a sugar cube, another calls the incumbent "the Bonsai," and the incumbent thinks his best hope for re-election might be reversing his no-new-"generalized"-taxes pledge.
The results of that election could throw the eurozone into so much chaos it could lead to the end of the euro.
I'm talking about France, of course, where President Nicolas Sarkozy currently doesn't have a truffle's chance in Lyon of winning the April 22/May 6 double-elimination election.
There's a serious issue beneath the sheer entertainment value of an election where one candidate (Dominique de Villepin) calls his opponent (Sarkozy) an uncultured oaf.
Flirting with a euro fix
Sarkozy is committed to making the euro work, and he has developed a working relationship with Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel in crafting the current solution (such as it is) to the euro debt crisis. (For more on the "Merkozy" solution to the crisis and what it would mean for the eurozone if it is implemented, see my Dec. 22, 2011, column, "The euro 'fix' we have to live with.")
His main opponent and the current leader in the polls, the Socialist François Hollande, has made it clear that he thinks Sarkozy has given away too much to Merkel's Germany. Hollande has more than signaled his opposition to the treaty of fiscal discipline that Merkel and Sarkozy worked out at the last European summit, going so far as to say that if he is president, France will not sign.
Hollande's solution to the euro debt crisis is so radically different from Merkel's that it's hard to see how the two countries could bridge the gap.
And without the German-French partnership, it's hard to see the euro surviving, frankly.
Think the markets might freak out over this possibility if Hollande is still leading in the polls in, say, March?
OK, some new taxes
So just how cooked is Sarkozy's oie?
- He's trailing Hollande and barely beating extreme right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen in the polls. On the current polling, Sarkozy would get past Le Pen in the April 22 first round of voting but lose to Hollande in the second round by 10 percentage points.
- The results will be even worse if France loses its AAA credit rating before the April vote. That would be a huge blow to French pride, and Sarkozy would be blamed. You can tell the French president thinks the loss of the AAA rating is a real possibility because in recent days he has been saying that the rating is no big thing.
- Unemployment in France has climbed to near 10% and looks to go higher as the country heads toward recession.
- Did I mention a likely recession? The government is hoping for 1% growth in 2012; it is unlikely to get it.
- Sarkozy's plan for increasing the competitiveness of the French economy -- and thus of upping the country's growth rate -- is something called the "social VAT." This plan, which faces daunting odds of getting past French legislators during the narrow window for action open in January, would turn costs now paid by French companies to costs paid by French taxpayers in an effort to close the company tax gap with Germany and other eurozone exporters. Taxpayers would face a higher VAT (value-added tax, a kind of sales tax).
It's hard to see why taxpayers would decide this didn't violate Sarkozy's oft-repeated pledge of no new taxes. I doubt that the fine print, which reads "no new 'generalized' taxes," would be enough to get him off the hook. (And an increase in the VAT seems pretty generalized to me anyway.)
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Europe has been in the news so much---it is boring to say the least. Of course we are coupled with the whole world but we can't lose sight of what is still good in America.
2012 without a drought will be simply a stock pickers market to return 10+% with plenty of volatility. Pick a few solid stocks and sleep well at night.
Just two that fit the bill: DVN and FCX they will rtn the 10% will very little worry. Average in over the next two months 1/3 1/3 1/3 just sit back and let all the noise go in one ear and out the other. We've been to greedy Take the 10%
Are you sick of all the bull #$%# the presidential candidates are spewing? Well if you are, take a look at Buddy Roemer’ views. You may not even know he is a candidate, but he makes a lot of sense. I heard him this morning on Morning Joe and I finally heard a candidate that I would vote for.
I haven't really cared about politics since Reagan left office. But it seems to me When who wins an election decides our fate: you have to ask; How did we get here? and Why are we here?
There was a book written back in 1987, by Alfred L. Malabre, Jr.; I forget the title of the book. Probably something like "living beyond our means". At the time it was read and reviewed to not much attention, other than that the author worked for the Wall Street Journal. There was a lot of detail in the book of how we were living beyond our means; with huge federal government deficits of 3 or 4% of GDP, and a then considered huge trade deficit more or less $150 billion or so.
Maybe it is as simple as that; we just lived beyond our means, and we need our nanny aka government to protect us from our parent aka whoever was in charge when they left; and is going to be mad as hell at us when they get home. I got to tell you I'm not looking forward to that experience. And I don't think we have truly experienced it yet!
As dramatic as the Euro-politicians may like to be, I can't agree that the old rivalry between France and Germany could actually end the Euro with a French election, even given your fine points of desent. I liken the French gesturing to proud peacocks displaying their feathers for mating rights vs. the Germans who no longer mate. The old swaying of the masses tricks have lost a lot of ground in Europe this past century (I think there's a few hundred books written about why). This article is too easy a conclusion to a very complicated and very old politial-social culture that most Americans, myself included, don't fully understand or care to understand anymore as we don't have the confidence in the Euro anyway at this time (thanks Greece!) and it's already costed us heavily. However, I do find the French elections themselves to be much more interesting than our own primaries. Monty Python vs. Celebrity Apprentice.
zdoc1962: You have no idea what you are talking about. The electronic records piece of the legislation you referred to is not a mandate, it is a goal.
Yes, there are small doctor's offices that need to upgrade their systems, and some may choose not to implement them (most practices can afford it...just a matter of biting the bullet in that area of their budget). However, the Insurance Companies themselves are the people paying lobbyists to stop enforcement of this part of the legislation. The private insurance companies do not want to invest in upgrading their systems.
I have worked in the Health Care Industry for 15 years, in many different segments…including three private health insurance companies, two of which are very large, multi-billion dollar organizations (Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Tufts Health Plan). Even today, both of these companies store some of their data on MS DOS systems. Their member service departments need to toggle back and forth between newer systems, and older ones (think green fonts, black background…circa 1984, still being used now…I’m not joking). These organizations have figured out that it is cheaper to train workers to use old technology, rather than paying to upgrade their systems. They will have to eventually upgrade when it gets to the point that they cannot find, or it becomes too costly to hire, someone who is able to fix 30 year old technology.
This is a typical example of the vaunted “private sector,” refusing to invest in their own company now because of high short-term costs that will result in savings later. The longer they wait to upgrade, the more expensive the upgrade will be.
The Irony is, the legislation you cited was aimed at modernizing medical records so that they can be shared seamlessly with care providers. Unfortunately, what has happened, the private sector health insurers are up in arms about hitting their bottom line, with regard to systems used by insurance companies, when their bottom line would actually benefit from more efficient communications between providers, as well as more efficient practices at their own companies. They just refuse to pay for it now, so we ALL wind up paying for it in the end. Unfortunately, these companies are able to pay lobbyists, who are able to convince Politicians that their position is right (and most elected officials do not have much knowledge of how our health care system operates).
We could help tackle this problem by providing public funding for these initiatives (aiding smaller operations upgrade their systems, for example)….but that is not possible in today’s political climate.
European politicans have been watching American politicians. Copy cats. They place their individual political careers above country.
Greece is threatening to leave the Union? Lord. There is a reason that nobody drinks Ouzo. Look how nuts it's made Greeks.
Don't forget. Short EADS.
Believe me, we, europeans are in much better shape than you are ! Our unemployed includes people working part time and people that have quit looking for work. Your unemployement is more like 15 to 17%, people !
Also, we are in a much better shape because europeans do have SAVINGS in the bank.. We have safety nets, when you don't !
our infrastructures are maintained and fine when yours are falling down.
So now, who do you think is in most trouble ???
There is a lot you could learn from France !!
Dexter426 has the labels right. Only a nightmare can come out of this impossible marriage and it is Obama.
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