When Will France Free Its Economy?

While Germany begins to face up to the need to reform its industry to compete in global markets, France remains stuck. The government's likely decision to "privatize" Thomson, a debt-laden defense and consumer electronics giant, by selling it to Alcatel, a money-losing telecommunications equipment company, reveals a nation unwilling to break with its dirigiste past. The message in this rigged transaction is simple: Foreign investors are not welcome when it comes to selling off national corporate champions. Impartial analysis of bids is out of the question. Transparency isn't valued in France. Just the opposite.

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