French press review 20 September 2011
There's plenty of Palestine on this morning's French front pages.
This is the week in which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will ask the United Nations' General Assembly to admit Palestine into the UN as an independent state.
Israel is not happy at the prospect, especially since the Palestine the UN will be asked to recognise is based on the 1967 borders and has Jerusalem as its capital. Israel is counting on the United States to veto the proposal.
US President Barack Obama told the last UN General Assembly, just twelve months ago, that he believed Palestine would be accepted as a full member nation in September 2011, "a sovereign state . . . living in peace with Israel" were his precise words.
Now, in September 2011, Obama's got politician's cold feet, and he's brandishing the American veto at the Security Council in order to ensure the support of the American Jewish community in next year's elections.
Neither Le Monde nor Le Figaro can resist the temptation to put that ghastly man, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, on the front page. If he can attract 13 million television viewers, he might sell a few extra newspapers.
Le Figaro is angry because DSK appears to have sanctioned Martine Aubry as the natural socialist candidate in next year's presidential race.
Prime Minister François Fillon is hopping mad because the man who used to run the International Monetary Fund has been suggesting that it might be a good idea for the broader European economy if the Greek debt was quietly written off.
Everybody appears to have forgotten the sexual misconduct which cost the man his IMF job and his shot at the presidency in the first place.
Le Monde analyses Strauss-Kahn's communications strategy as a clever mix of contrition and counter-attack, marked by his trade mark coherence, slick presentation and brilliance. A first shot in the election campaign for 2017, perhaps?
Elsewhere, Le Monde announces the possibility of another global financial crisis, with the discovery of a complex financial beastie by the name of Exchanged Traded Funds.
I won't trouble you with the details, mainly because I don't understand a word of Le Monde's explanation, but the essential fact to retain is that these yokes are about fifty times more toxic, and a million times more risky, than the old sub-prime mortgage lending scam which caused the last global crisis.
Le Monde thinks no less than 1,100 billion euros could be tied up in these financial fictions, which are essentially bets on whether the price of a particular stock or product will rise or fall.
If you guess correctly, you earn a commission, and can sell your guessing abilities to investors who will support your view of the future with their own hard cash.
The good guessers set up things called tracker funds, which are bought and sold on stock markets just like shares in the real world. And all of that, of course, without anyone actually creating a single smidgin of anything real.
Just to put the 1,100 billion euros into perspective, that figure is expected to rise to 1,460 billion euros by the end of this year. And that's the equivalent of, for example, the French Gross Domestic Product.