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French press review, 8 June 2010

A veiled woman, a luxury hotel, a rogue and the Germans. This morning’s French papers sound like the makings of a very good film.


The rogue: Humanité leads with Kerviel, a Société Générale trader who lost 4.9 billion euros and is appearing in court this morning. A mad trader in a mad system, says communist Humanité. It quotes the communist economist Paul Boccara who says that speculation has invaded finance like a cancer. Kerviel, who was branded nothing more than a terrorist by the chief executive of Société Générale, could face five years in prison and a fine of 375,000 euros if convicted. But says Humanité remember that the bank itself lost 300 billion in sub-prime mortgage exposures; when's the court case against the system?

La Croix agrees. The Kerviel affair symbolises the breeze of folly that took hold of the financial world (yes, that is how it’s written – a breeze taking hold). It says the arrogance of the financial world should go on trial. Sounding rather like a sermon, the Catholic paper decries the traders who have an unhealthy fascination with money, which it says is immaterial and without real value except when you lose it.

The woman: Le Figaro runs Laurence Ferrari a television journalist who appeared on television for an interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wearing a veil. The interview was in the presidential palace in Tehran and Ferrari says she respects the rules of wherever she is. France has a complicated relationship with the veil, which goes against the secular values of the republic. She wore a white veil, which is the colour of liberty, so at least she scored one point for liberté, fraternité, egalité.

The hotel: Libération reports that Rama Yade, the secretary of state in charge of sport, has criticised the luxuriousness of the French football team's hotel in South Africa. Roslyne Bachelot, the minister of sports, says now is not the time for polemic. L'Equipe says the French football federation will give each member of the team 390,000 euros each if they win. Bachelot said the Spanish players get 550,000 (the Spanish press says it's 600,000 euros).

Le Monde has a comment entitled Our Daily Bread. It asks why the French aren't more interested in the World Cup. Only 56 per cent of the French care about it. Patriotism for the Bleus came last in a poll of 14 countries. This says Le Monde was predictable. The papers should have been legally obliged to consecrate sufficient space to Raymond Domenech's lack of charisma, Franck Ribery's sexual habits, to 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formations, to technical commentaries, and so on and on. Tell us about football, for goodness's sake, says Le Monde, decrying Yade’s polemic.
The Germans: Figaro leads with 80-billion-euro German austerity measures announced yesterday. Chancellor Angela Merkel even had to postpone her dinner with French president Nicolas Sarkozy while she was putting the finishing touches to her plan. It’s setting a good example, says Le Figaro in its editorial, adding that cancelling dinner with Sarkozy was not in itself dramatic but it illustrates the difficulties in communication between Germany and France. This point is not really explained.

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