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Press review 10 October 2008

by Lance King

Article published on the 2008-10-10 Latest update 2008-10-10 07:58 TU

Fear is a word that comes up a lot in the papers this morning.

Left-wing Libération speaks with several historians about the financial crisis and the anxiety it’s causing. This paper says that the majority of the historians they interviewed spoke first of all about fear. The first corollary of any major disaster, be it financial or natural, is collective anxiety, they say. Libération argues that, historically, political leaders have transformed collective fear into nationalism or have found a way to calm everyone down.

In some cases, politicians have been able to use disasters to demonstrate their ability to innovate, such as President Roosevelt in the United States following the 1929 crash. Libération hopes that the current financial turmoil will be an occasion for European leaders to show that the Union can work together, rather than just an opportunity for them to find makeshift solutions in their respective countries. As Libération points out, the original idea of the E.U. was economic.

However, the right-leaning Le Figaro says that not everyone here in France is so scared. This paper says that 79 per cent of the French are still confident putting their money in the bank. According to a survey by Opinion Way, 8 out 10 French people feel that the government’s promise to guarantee deposits is an appropriate measure to calm fears.

There are still those sceptics out there, though. In another article, Le Figaro says that sales of safes for your home have sky-rocketed in the last month. Olivier Bianchi of Gunnabo, a company that makes safes, says that sales increased by 25 per cent in September. Maybe the sale of safes will help out the economy.

The Catholic daily La Croix speaks of the decline of the American model. As the finance ministers of G7 countries get ready to meet today in Washington, this paper says that the world is getting more and more critical of the US over the financial crisis. La Croix also says that many people feel that, as a result of all the trouble, America’s influence in the world will dwindle.

In the past, says La Croix, a G7 meeting was a time for the U.S. to give lessons in the value of unbridled, free-market capitalism. This time around though, it looks like the US will be getting the lessons. The main criticisms are that the US has refused to create regulation in new markets over the past few years, which has contributed to the current trouble. In addition, many people are irritated that the US has offered no other solution to the crisis than nationalisation, which is what the US has traditionally told other countries not to do.