Quelle horreur: France to auction off some government wine because, austerity

posted at 11:31 am on May 4, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

France has the second largest economy in Europe, but with the unemployment rate above ten percent and their economic growth rate in stagnation mode — not to mention their recent reneging on the deficit-reduction targets they assured the European Commission they would meet and their increasingly frosty relationship with Europe’s largest economy — they are definitively on the strugglebus.

What’s more, the French government is widely perceived as corrupt and President Francois Hollande is deeply unpopular, with a lot of the voting populace angry that he isn’t being Socialist enough. Ergo, bring on the fiscally meaningless and cheap political stunts! From the NJ:

The Élysée Palace’s wine cellar, which is guarded by an armored door and was founded by President Vincent Auriol in 1947 (because, YOLO, no more world wars), is now home to 12,000 bottles of wine that make appearances at the palace’s receptions and dinners for foreign dignitaries. Hollande, with the aid of the Élysée’s chief sommelier (the White House sort of has one of those, too), has decided France could do without a tenth of that. …

The 1,200 bottles of wine—which include a 1990 Petrus Bordeaux that could sell for over $3,000—will go up for public auction at the end of May, courtesy of the Drouot auction house. Drouot estimates the bottles will sell for anything from €15 (about $20 USD) to, well, Petrus Bordeaux. The proceeds, which are estimated to surpass €250,000 ($327,800 USD), from the auction will replenish the wine cellar with some humbler wines, and the surplus will go to the state budget.

Wine is a big historical/cultural deal for the French, with all kinds of rules and regulations governing its production and sale, and I think the French regime is hoping this is going to work out as a highly visible PR move that that will make it look like they’re leaving no stone unturned in their quest to absorb some of the fiscal pain. “Shared sacrifice,” if you will.

Unfortunately, auctioning of a bit of wine won’t even come close to doing anything substantive in balancing their national checkbook, and it’s not going to do anything to restore Europe’s confidence in the flailing country, via the WSJ:

A new hurdle has popped up in Europe’s race to save itself from economic calamity: French President François Hollande, who built his career on an ability to forge consensus, now finds himself in the unaccustomed position of pleasing no one.

Mr. Hollande’s ruling Socialist Party is in revolt. Party heavyweights are urging him to turn up the heat on Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and defy her prescription of austerity for resolving the euro-zone crisis. The French press last week splashed a Socialist Party draft paper that described Ms. Merkel as “selfish.” …

Ms. Merkel, for her part, is worried that Paris is moving too slowly to repair its economy and could face deepening economic trouble, people familiar with her thinking say.

… On the European stage, he is trying to persuade Ms. Merkel he won’t renege on his commitment to fiscal rigor. At home, he is working to appease Socialists who demand more government spending as well as voters who now question whether Mr. Hollande wields the clout necessary to steer the world’s fifth-largest economy.


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