Reckoning from Normandy, France...
One of the advantages of moving overseas is that you see home more clearly. We came to France last week. Already, America comes into clearer focus.
A European Union flag flies as tourists visit the ancient hill of the Acropolis in Athens on Friday. Greece and its private bondholders resumed debt-swap talks the same day amid signs they are inching closer to a long-awaited deal needed to prevent a chaotic default by Athens.
The French press seems fascinated by the relationship between Francois Hollande's two mistresses. The former - a candidate for president herself - dumped him when he took up with the latter. The former is also the mother of Hollande's 4 children, which complicates things further.
The latter hates the former. The former hates the latter.
We learned all this at dinner last night with a charming French couple we have known for years. They spent half the dinner telling us about the presidential ménage...the other half was spent telling us about what they had eaten recently. They seemed to recall the details of every meal. How it was prepared...what mistakes the chef made...and what the weather must have been when the grapes were picked for their wine.
As to the imminent financial catastrophe in Europe they were sanguine...even blasé.
"Every week we're told the end of Europe will arrive next week. Frankly, we don't care anymore."
What Europeans care about is their vacations! After decades of social and political struggle, the working classes of the Old World won the right to at least 4 weeks of paid vacation. Bosses could not stand in their way. And now Europe's highest court has ruled that even nature cannot be allowed to spoil a vacation. The New York Times is on the case:
BRUSSELS - For most Europeans, almost nothing is more prized than their four to six weeks of guaranteed annual vacation leave. But it was not clear just how sacrosanct that time off was until Thursday, when Europe's highest court ruled that workers who happened to get sick on vacation were legally entitled to take another vacation.
"The purpose of entitlement to paid annual leave is to enable the worker to rest and enjoy a period of relaxation and leisure," the Court of Justice of the European Union, based in Luxembourg, ruled in a case involving department store workers in Spain. "The purpose of entitlement to sick leave is different, since it enables a worker to recover from an illness that has caused him to be unfit for work."
So, you see, things in France are as they should be. People are delusional. But not deadly. Unlike... in the USA where we tend to favor destructive and pointless wars over anything else. More on that here.
for The Daily Reckoning Australia