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Bad News from France & Germany. Good!
Friday May 27, 2005
From the Republican Governor's Association
Las Vegas, Nevada
First the good news on the US economy yesterday from the Wall Street Journal's Jon Hilsenrath:
The U.S. economy grew faster than previously believed during the first three months of the year, while corporate profits again rose at a double-digit percentage pace.
Reports said the increase was largely due to consumer spending which is ticking along at a healthy pace in spite of high gasoline prices.
Remember how the German and French governments fretted and strutted across the world stage in the run-up to the war in Iraq? German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder barely won re-election and then only after he went out of his way to bad-mouth President Bush in such harsh terms that the two have barely spoken since.
Jacques Chirac has carried on the fiction of believing anyone cares what a French President says or does. The Chirac government - whose hands may well be discovered to be covered with illegal Iraqi oil if the Senate ever gets around to confirming John Bolton to be Ambassador to the UN and we get to the bottom of the Oil-for-Palaces scandals - has been among our most vocal critic at the United Nations.
Compare and contrast the US economic data with a report in the International Herald Tribune by Brian Childs that the European economy is barely above water:
The Commerce Department said gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the output of goods and services, grew at a 3.5% annual rate in the first quarter.
Weak confidence and a lack of resilience has repeatedly stifled recoveries in core countries like Germany and Italy� On Tuesday, more evidence of weakness emerged as a survey showed that German investor confidence fell sharply in May to its lowest level since November 2004.
As if that weren't good enough, there is mounting conviction that German Chancellor Schroeder is about to be bounced out on his derri�re (however you say that in German) largely on the basis of an intractable 12 percent unemployment rate and a GDP growth rate of barely 1.25%.
But wait! There's more!
According to the Financial Times, the financial times in France are no better and your friend and mine, Jacques Chirac is paying the price:
Mr Chirac has seen his approval rating drop sharply over the past few months to 40 per cent as the economy has slowed and the unemployment rate has risen to 10.2 per cent. The president � has been unable to find a solution to mass joblessness.
As a benchmark, this morning's economic data show the US unemployment rate at about 5.2 percent. About half that of France and just over 40% of Germany.
In addition, the French are about to turn down a referendum this coming Sunday on approving a new constitution for the European Union as Reuters' European reporters Jon Boyle and Kerstin Gehmlich tell us:
A French "No" could kill the charter, undermine France's influence in Europe and weaken Chirac two years before the next presidential election� Two new surveys on Thursday showed French opposition to the treaty had risen to 55 percent.
Writing in the Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz, columnist Raanan Eliaz tells us:
Although many agree that France's status in the EU would be bolstered if the constitution is adopted, a large number of citizens intend to oppose it, if only to express their disgust at the country's current leadership.
Gotta love it. Jacques Chirac and Gerhardt Schroeder both in big, big political trouble.
Meanwhile, a bit to the south of Old Europe, Egyptian voters went to the polls to vote on whether opposition parties would be allowed in Presidential elections there. According to the AP's Susan Sevareid, "Voters overwhelmingly cleared the way for Egypt's first contested presidential election, according to referendum returns released Thursday."
That's pretty much good news on all fronts.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to many articles about the US and European economies; a thrilling Mullfoto and a rare reprise of a Catchy Caption of the Day.
Copyright © 2005 Richard A. Galen
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