1. Exquisite Tweets from @KuperSimon

    PreoccupationsCollected by Preoccupations

    1. Quick thoughts on what's happening in France, after I've been out this morning watching gilets jaunes in Paris. Purchasing power has long been a bigger problem in France than in other western countries/

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    KuperSimon

    Simon Kuper

    2. Lots of people are on the national minimum wage (about 14,900 euros a year) and many more cluster around the median wage of about 22,000 gross, with charges to pay. So the French have their health, education and pensions mostly taken care of but have little disposable income

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    KuperSimon

    Simon Kuper

    3. Coupled with this is huge personal dislike of Macron - more of the man than of his policies. (He was able to do the labour-market reforms that no president had dared for 20 years with fairly little opposition)

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    KuperSimon

    Simon Kuper

    4. And this relatively poor country has a capital city that has been dripping with wealth for centuries - so the shops in Paris are a provocative sight to most French people. So is the de facto royal court of elite Parisians that assembles around every French president

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    KuperSimon

    Simon Kuper

    5. BUT let's not exaggerate the level of turmoil in France. Two weeks ago, there were more people at the (barely reported) women's march in Paris than the 8,000 gilets jaunes who demonstrated the same day

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    KuperSimon

    Simon Kuper

    6. The international attention took off after the violence on the Champs-Elysees last week. Spectacular images of fires, fights, tear gas. But that was done by a minority of 'casseurs' (literally: 'breakers'), violent anarchists who are part of the French tradition

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    KuperSimon

    Simon Kuper

    7. There's some overlap between the casseurs and gilets jaunes but latter group is much larger. Yet the violence suggested a country in revolution - which France is not (e.g. my son just went off with his mates through the peaceful city to his football match in the suburbs)

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    KuperSimon

    Simon Kuper

    8. Most French people say in surveys that they support the 'gilets jaunes'. But what does it mean to 'support' an amorphous movement with no clear goals beyond wanting more purchasing power and disliking Macron? This sounds like a general expression of discontent

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    KuperSimon

    Simon Kuper

    9. Conclusion: big, long-lasting problem of purchasing power, personal dislike of Macron, persistent French discontent for over a decade now. But last weekend's images of violence (which play beautifully on TV) exaggerate the level of disorder in France. No revolution

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    KuperSimon

    Simon Kuper

    I don't think so. Gilets jaunes spokespeople consistently reject leaders like Le Pen and Mélenchon. This looks more like next-stage populism, after rejection of populist political parties twitter.com/iainlevine/sta…

    Iain Levine @iainlevine
    Do you not see the gilets jaunes as a potential wave of support for populists on either the right or the left?

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    KuperSimon

    Simon Kuper

    Later today there's the 'Marche pour le Climat' in Paris. It will get almost zero publicity - new trend to dismiss concern for the planet as an 'elite problem'. Macron will have to slap green taxes on corporations, who will pass cost on to consumers twitter.com/iainlevine/sta…

    Iain Levine @iainlevine
    Thanks. And do you see any way that Macron can promote necessary measures against climate change without alienating them?

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    KuperSimon

    Simon Kuper

    10. No revolution: 8,000 gilets jaunes demonstrators in Paris today, according to government. Also 8,000 police officers (via @stefandevries)

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    KuperSimon

    Simon Kuper

    @thomasforth As you say, average incomes for France as a whole not bad but yes, that's hugely distorted by Paris effect - Paris incomes + costs much higher than rest of country twitter.com/thomasforth/st…

    Tom Forth @thomasforth
    I do agree that regional inequality (basically the strength of Paris vs. the rest) is a particular problem. France only slightly better than the UK (London vs. the rest) on this measure.

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    KuperSimon

    Simon Kuper

    You are misreading my argument. France has relatively little poverty + inequality compared with other western countries BECAUSE government redistributes so much through tax/social charges, and provides good safety net, and SO most French people have little money in their pockets

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    KuperSimon

    Simon Kuper

    Gilets jaunes: a bit over 8,000 in Paris. Marche pour le Climat: about 25,000 in Paris. Which one will get more coverage? (Both marches were also nationwide - the climate one drew many more people across France, with some of the marchers wearing yellow vests in solidarity)

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    KuperSimon

    Simon Kuper

    Yes I think gilets jaunes also function as a new, mostly virtual community that helps combat loneliness and raise self-esteem

    Giramonda @belugabay
    Interesting, but I am missing the "feel-good" element in the analysis, that seems to play a role, too:

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    KuperSimon

    Simon Kuper

    I should have specified: the 14,900 for French minimum wage is net; and the median wage of about 22,000 is also NET, not gross as my initial tweet said - apologies. Point is that French people's post-tax income is low- partly as the state spends so much on a strong safety net

    Simon Kuper @KuperSimon
    2. Lots of people are on the national minimum wage (about 14,900 euros a year) and many more cluster around the median wage of about 22,000 gross, with charges to pay. So the French have their health, education and pensions mostly taken care of but have little disposable income

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    KuperSimon

    Simon Kuper