France decides, with knots in the tummy

France decides today: 11 candidates, for a real crisscross of choices. I hope the optimism for change I felt this bright morning continues tonight, after 8pm when the result is expected. A high turn-out seems certain, which means it will go to the wire, and may spring a surprise or two. 

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How the OECD Quiz changed my life

To be right or not to be right, that is the question. Or at least it is the one that concerns anyone who has ever sat on a quiz team. But what if you are asking the questions?

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A tribute to Charles G Wootton: an American at the OECD, and beyond

I was clearing out my desk and rummaging through old files when I came across this: a letter I had kept from the widow of a former OECD Deputy Secretary-General, who had passed away in 2014. The letter had arrived in the secretary-general’s cabinet, and was then kicked down to me.

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Restoring French Class

It's a clammy Indian summer again, but the signs of autumn are here. The leaves are turning, the garden yells at me and darkness sets in earlier in the evening and clings on later in the morning as I write. In an hour the kids have to be brought to school. What a great moment in a busy day that is. Shoes on, bags slung, breakfast belched, hair combed, teeth brushed, eyes owl-like, then down the stairs in a clatter, through the courtyard, across the road into a flow of parents, round to the old school house nestling unnoticed in central Paris, and kisses before the boys and girls disappear through the old "Ecole des Filles" entrance. That is an old wooden sign, of course, harking back to a day when girls were girls, and the French teachers were masters like no other at turning cohorts of mômes into talent. They are not so sure of themselves now though. Could this be the autumn of l'Education nationale?

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Is Paris really that expensive to live in?

Paris shares 2nd slot with Singapore in the latest list of the world' s most expensive cities, according to this Economist survey. Many people will not be surprised: Paris is not a cheap city to live in by any stretch. But should it be second?

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Scottish independence: Why not?

Am surprised no mention of Ireland in your article, and the Scots could surely cite that example a bit more forcefully rather than Denmark or Iceland. I wonder why they don't and why you don't. Whatever: Whether independent or not, Scotland and England will continue to get on well; Scotland could flourish under either scenario.

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Another country

Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland have an EU ambition in common which cuts across old divisions of religion and class and sets them apart from England and Wales. Time for a new compact, a diversity-driven Hiberno-EU rainbow stretching from Kerry to Aberdeenshire. Time for another country.
RJ Doyle, 25 June 2016

"Britons voted on Thursday to leave the European Union. The Leave side led with 17.4 million votes, or 52 percent, versus the Remain side’s 16.1 million, or 48 percent, with a turnout of around 72 percent." From the NY Times, 24 June 2010; see map

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Island for sale

During the 80s crisis an American friend Mark Boswell and I mused in a Paris kitchen about splitting Ireland in two, and then selling off either the romantic, gaelic, West or the then wealthier urban East. Which side would raise more cash? Which sale would cause more soulsearching and challenge Irish (or any other) cultural identity more?

An article  in the Irish Independent raises a similar specter: "Yesterday, the IMF and the EU were busy trying to limit the damage following their mission to Greece. One auditor, also the EC representative, Servaas Deroose, encouraged the Greeks to "sell beaches" to pay back the IMF/EU loan."

Stuff of theatre? How real it could all become.


Recovery? What recovery?

Lots of people have just recently been talking as though the recovery in the US had been going on for two years. Not that anyone was celebrating, what with unemployment so high. Even so, I have no idea where that notion of recovery came from or what data it was based on, yet international organisations and other institutions seemed to have made up their minds. And many journalists and economic commentators seemed happy with that and took their cue from a few official press releases. In reality, the economy in the western world has been in fairly bad shape at least since Lehman's fall in 2008, and probably earlier than that. 

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Ireland: More on the facts

David, I remember your public speaking not that long back, just before the crisis finally broke: you were sure there’d be a reckoning for all the private Irish debt v German savings, you sensed there was trouble ahead, but you were unsure about when. Others had similar fears, you voiced yours clearly, but it was not a forecast as such, and you occasionally expressed doubt, given what seemed like gravity-defying property prices. Your fears were based on something more sophisticated than “what goes up must come down”, though not sure if you saw the tsunami building in the US. Maybe you did.

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Photo greats

A photo auction of some of the great photographers of the 20th century took place in Paris on Saturday 2 May 2011 , with original one-use only prints by the likes of Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, the Capas, Robert Frank and more, all selling.

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