PRESIDENT MACRON HAS BIGGER FISH TO FRY TO FRY THAN GETTING STUCK IN TO THE CITY!”
President Macron and his ‘first Lady’ take up residency in the Elysee Palace today (Sunday). The debonair reincarnation of ‘The Little Corporal’ has it all to do, even more so than his illustrious forefather Napoleon Bonaparte, who at same age all but ruled much of Europe.
President Macron has the unimaginatively difficult task of juggling his reputation as Chancellor Merkel’s main ‘bag-carrier’ and standard bearer for the EU with the unenviable task of dealing with an ailing domestic economy. France’s labour laws and immigration problems are in severe need of reform and remedial action. Despite Macron’s ‘rebel-rousing’ rhetoric, his matinee idol good looks and his heart-felt promises to provide hope and dreams to the ‘Cinquieme Republique’, few think he has much chance of changing France’s reputation of abhorring change! He’s going to struggle to get a working majority in the June legislator elections. He is already struggling over nominations for his party for legislative elections with alleged broken promises to those who supported him.
His visit to the UK last February, as a handicapper in horse racing parlance, looking to run in ‘group’ company as an outsider for the Presidency or in betting terms, M Macron was very much the ‘rag!’ He came to London with the express intention of enticing as many as 20,000 bankers, financial and fin-tech experts back to the Seizieme arrondissement or thereabouts in Paris, as the battle lines are drawn up for BREXIT, were laudable and understandable. The same applies to his recent comments about ‘demanding’ the repatriation of Euro-clearing.
Most people have been appalled at the jingoistic behaviour of a few important leading political lights on both sides ‘La Manche.’ Some of the rhetoric chosen by J-C Juncker, his bag carrier – he’s so unimportant I cannot remember his name nor can I be bothered to look it up – and Guy Verhofstadt is not what is required to make for sensible negotiations. Mr Verhofstadt, for a man with his supposed distinguished diplomatic career, should know better than to refer to the UK as ‘human excrement’ – the word he is purported to have used in jest in a tweet; not at any time denied by him – was rather more succinct and colourful. Juncker seems to reel from one banana skin to another, in a first-class performance of ‘Widow Twanky on ice!’ This kind of aggressive behaviour will only damage the residue of goodwill between the EU and the UK. Many cynics will say why should the EU care as it only does 10% of its trade whereas the UK does 40% with the EU? It’s a fair point, but if the relationship deteriorates to a point, when there is limited cooperation on defence and security, perhaps it might start caring. Talk of this nature is crazy, but emotions are running high. Representatives at the top table need to calm down. To be honest I am much more interested in what business luminaries – industrial and financial – think rather than ‘hot-headed’ politicians.
I believe the EU’S indomitable resolve to damage the UK may have been exacerbated by Emmanuel Macron’s landslide victory in the French Presidential election. Having looked decidedly weak three months ago, the EU now feels strong and resolute with Chancellor Merkel, who frankly, but all in name, is the President of Europe has found a new enthusiastic and totally committed standard bearer. Merkel is also starting to look a warm order to win the German election in October. Growth in the EU has been better of late and the fact that Italy and Greece next year could upset the apple cart is tomorrow’s story.
The Macron bubble will burst before too long. His domestic problems could leave his time devoted to the EU in the in-tray for longer than he would like. Macron has real live issues as discussed above. Much as HSBC’S Gulliver, Goldman’s Blankfein, UBS’S Ermotti have huffed and puffed with heir contingency plans post BREXIT, by making plans to move a few thousand people in total as a contingency plan; its good house-keeping, I suspect they all know that Paris will NEVER compete with London as a financial centre! Why? Hopeless labour laws, taxation issues, lack of infrastructure, language and above all else London is the place to get business done with the very best legal and accountancy services on ‘Mother Earth.’ All this cannot be replicated in my humble opinion. Also on the subject of clearing, I was delighted that the US sent out a stark warning to the EU as to the damage that could be done by breaking up London’s hugely important clearing operations, which is unquestionably the largest insurance company in the world guaranteeing counterparty transactions. Though the EU is entitled to Euro based cleating, fragmenting the whole framework could have very dangerous connotations and ramifications. M Macron, you have been warned. Attend to your flock before attempting to assume the role of international empire builder. You would achieve more by cooperating with the UK rather than bashing it! Finally may I commend an excellent article by Maggie Pagano in the Independent about Daniel Hodson, who is doing a brilliant in bringing ‘remainers’ and ‘leavers’ to the table with a view to having them sing from the same hymn sheet.