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French press review 13 September 2011

The health or otherwise of French banks is the main subject in all France's dailies today...


The main headline in today's Libération says it all: "The banks are sick of Greece". And so are most of the rest of us.

Still, the Libé editorial on the latest phase of the eurozone crisis is a thing of almost poetic beauty. "It's nearly midnight in Europe, and the streets are aflame . . ." is a classy way to start.

That's followed by a quote from Oscar Wilde to the effect that it's not your debts that do for you, it's when you run out of people to borrow from.

Well, it turns out that the Greeks have been borrowing, big time, from the French banks. As Greek bankruptcy becomes more and more likely, shareholders of said French banks are getting rid of their holdings faster than a robber's dog.

That explains the sensational tone of the front page of Catholic La Croix. "French banks in torment" is a hellishly catholic way of saying that there's a real danger a Greek collapse could bring some French banks down.

Since the head honcho of the Société Générale was on the radio yesterday, reassuring savers and investors that there was nothing to worry about, you can be sure there's lots to worry about.

And the front page of business daily Les Echos is in flaming red for the second day in succession. They've even got the tabloid expression "hellish spiral" in their headline! That's what the French banks are currently on, or in, and it's not going to get better any day soon.

Shares in BNP Paribas lost 12% yesterday. Société Générale, whose boss was making reassuring noises yesterday, lost 11% on the day, down 61% since the start of this year. Don't be supprised if that man is back on the radio today, to offer further reassurance.

Communist L'Humanité says it's time to take the banking sector out of the hands of the bankers! Basically, the communists want some kind of nationalisation.

If I understand the small print, they want the banks to pay their debts while the state picks up the profits. Let's cut the well-heeled shareholder out of the picture, and make the world a better place.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

L'Humanité further accuses the stock markets of ingratitude towards the banks. It was the banks that provided the money that made stock trading possible in the first place, says L'Huma, and now the ungrateful baskets are savaging the hand that fed them. Well, that's business for you!

Le Figaro is divided between yesterday's vibrant plea from Prime Minister, François Fillon, to save the eurozone, and the good news (from a right-wing point of view) that the Socialists are up to their armpits in blood and gore as the autumn primary election approches.

Martine Aubry is apparently worried about the persistent popularity of François Hollande. So Aubry is now negotiating with supporters of Ségolène Royal with a view to collecting her votes in the event of a second round face-off against Hollande.

Those who believe in this sort of thing say it's good for democracy. But it's hardly good for French socialism.

The front page of Le Figaro does carry the reassuring news that the internet service company, Google, has security plans in place to cover the hi-jacking of any of its million servers.

To protect the financial and other confidentail data on the servers, they have armed guards and thermal cameras protecting their 32 sites worldwide.

The security system even includes provision for the possibility of an attack by beings from outer space, and the complete destruction of the state of California.

As a more down-to-earth French expert interviewed by Le Figaro explains, the real problems are posed by power cuts, damaged cables and fires.

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