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Nicolas Sarkozy

Jock Fistick/Bloomberg

Nicolas Sarkozy


The hyperkinetic French president was elected in June 2007 on promises to enact free-market reforms with support from a center-right majority in Parliament. But as the country slid into economic crisis in 2008 and 2009, Sarkozy has taken a more dirigiste approach, handing out subsidies to the auto industry and setting up a fund to take stakes in French companies that could be vulnerable to foreign takeover. At Davos—where he delivered the opening keynote address calling for an overhaul of capitalism—he can take comfort in knowing that France's economy began recovering last year, well ahead of Britain's. Growth this year could exceed 1.4%.