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The French Death Rattle

PARIS – Moody’s announcement in November that it had downgraded France’s sovereign-credit rating by one notch from its AAA rating prompted one blogger to poke fun at rating agencies’ tendency either to get things completely wrong or to recognize suddenly a crisis that had long been staring them in the face. The blogger joked, “If this recognition by a rating agency that France has problems is an example of the first failing, a recovery must have begun; if it is an example of the second failing, the country faces a dire reckoning.”

French President François Hollande’s government claims to have awoken to the threat. In a recent interview, Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici likened the measures being undertaken to reduce the country’s debt burden and restore competitiveness to a “Copernican revolution...because these choices were not clear for a French government or for a center-left government.”