Commentary: Liberte, Egalite And Equities?

When French tire maker Michelin announced plans to cut 7,500 jobs, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin blamed greedy shareholders. Michelin asserted that it was merely trying to regain its edge--and avoid bigger layoffs. Clearly, France is not the U.S., where restructurings are routine. But the uproar underscores another difference: The U.S. is a nation of shareholders, and France is not. Until that changes, restructuring in France will carry a political charge.

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