French Socialist Minister of Nationalization: “Obama Does It!”

In what is sure to raise eyebrows and cause some headdesk moments across the world, the French Industry Minister, a member of the ruling Socialist Party, has said that what he’s doing is what Obama is doing:

The French politician who said Indian steel company ArcelorMittal should leave the country has told CNBC that his government is only acting like U.S. President Barack Obama.

FRANCE-POLITICS-ECONOMY-COMPETITIVENESS

Eric Feferberg / AFP/Getty Images

French Minister for Industrial Recovery, Arnaud Montebourg poses as he arrives at the Hotel Matignon (the Prime Minister’s official residence) in Paris.

Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg, a member of the governing Socialist party, caused controversy last week when he said that the Indian company, which employs close to 20,000 people in France, should leave after it said it would have to close down a factory.

The French government announced on Thursday that it could nationalize the factory in question, with backing from an unnamed businessman.

The news raised the specter of the nationalizations of the early 1980s, which were instigated by Hollande’s predecessor Francois Mitterrand.

Montebourg told CNBC after a meeting with trade unions in Paris: “Barack Obama’s nationalized. The Germans are nationalizing. All countries are nationalizing. I’ve also noticed the British nationalized 6 banks.”

(Read MoreIs Obama a Socialist?)

Montebourg is believed to be referring to the takeover of struggling automakers by the U.S. government earlier in the financial crisis.

Conservatives have been labeling Obama a socialist since before he even entered office, and Obama, with his fellow democrats, have been firing back that he loves the free market, capitalist system, and is not a socialist. I think there’s a bit of truth to both claims; he is clearly not a free market capitalist, yet I’m not sure he’s a socialist. He more properly is a crony capitalist or a corporatist, jumping in bed with big corporations rather than taking them over.

Mr. Montebourg describes his strategy as “extremely modern,” which I find curious as nationalizing businesses has gone on for decades. Britain did it with British-Leyland in 1975. The US nationalized electric power during the Great Depression via the Tennessee Valley Authority. Around the same time Mexico nationalized oil companies in that country. In 1905 and 1906, Italy and Japan, respectively, nationalized their railroads. So no, it’s not “extremely modern.” It’s in fact at least a century old (even older; apparently Britain nationalized telegraphs back in 1868.)

Considering how far France is going down the crapper, together with the rest of Europe, this does not bode well for us. The last thing America should do is whatever Europe is doing.

 


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