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by Maurice Ulrich’s Daily Ticket

The Milk-Maid

Translated Saturday 24 October 2009, by Henry Crapo and reviewed by Henry Crapo

Christine Lagarde is a woman with a smile.

That’s nice, given the climate of our times. A frown from the Minister of Economy, the hint of a shadow in her glance, and the stock market will plunge, and when the CAC40 index gets lead in its wings, those with savings begin to panic.

So, as far as she is concerned, everything is going to be OK, everything is going fine, and even, as Lawrence Ferrari said the other day, also with a smile, things are getting better and better. We don’t know when, or how, but better and better.

For the banks, this is true. Delirious bonuses, speculation. It’s like La vie en rose, but it is in euRose. They don’t give a fig about the entire world. And so now we have the blow that the finance committee of the National Assembly had the rather daring idea to propose a surtax of 10% on the banks’ profits, with the excuse that the State had saved them from catastrophe!

And who jumps into the ring again? Christine Lagarde cried out immediately. "No question", she said, "of penalizing the French banking system, which behaved well during the crisis."

In the Nouvel Obervateur this week, the economist Olivier Pastré, who, among other functions, holds down a post as member of the scientific council of the Authority for Financial markets, offered this familiar formulation: "The banks today have the butter, the money to pay the butter, and the smile of the milk-maid." [1] it’s true.

[1A French expression that has lived on in many variations: Vouloir le beurre, l’argent du beurre et le sourire de la crémière, Vouloir le beurre, l’argent du beurre et la fille de la crémière, or the Corsican: Vulè a bòtte pièna e a mòglia briaca, more tamely in English: To have your cake and eat it too.

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