Black Swans

You can take the politician out of France, but you can never take France out of him! Yesterday, I had the priviledge to return to my alma mater, The George Washington University, to hear possible French presidential candidate IMF Managing Director Dominque Strauss Kahn speak of global challenges, global solutions and black swans. I am not much of an economist. As a matter of fact, I had to take Intro to Micro-Economics twice while in undergrad. So a lot of DSK’s speech about privatization, Basel III accord on banking regulation and loan-to-value ratios went way over my head. I did get the black swans swimming in the global economic lake analogy though I had to do a little research to figure out that he was referring to the theory outlined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb whose book The Black Swan argued that investors take too little account of unpredictable events.

What I really got out of Dominique Strauss Kahn’s speech is that he may be the head of an international organization but he’s still a French politician. Opinion polls in France keep showing that he is the Parti Socialiste’s best candidate to defeat Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2012 presidential elections. Already on the defensive, critics on the right are quick to mention that, after years spent in Washington, DC, he is too removed from the daily worries of the average French person. To these critics I say, rest assure, DSK is still as French as it gets and he still leans to the left 😉 While there were no mentions of unions or strikes, he did manage, in a 45 minute speech, to talk about purchasing power, social inclusion, globalization with a more human face instead of one with an invisible hand or fist, and of course, about taxes and more specifically his proposal for a tax on financial activities. I mean, c’mon… more taxes…
The other thing I got out of this speech is that when you are a French speaker, having to hear a fellow Frenchie speak in English with a (very decent but) thick French accent is pure torture. But I’m very glad I did anyways 😉

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