This Sunday is election day in France – the first round of voting in the much-anticipated 2017 Presidential election. The first round will whittle the 11 candidates currently in the race down to just two. Then, 2 weeks later, a runoff election between the final two will determine the next president of France on May 7th. Yesterday evening, during the final televised debate between all 11 candidates, Paris suffered its latest terror attack. A gunman with an AK-47 assault rifle opened fire on a police patrol parked on the Champs Elysees – Paris’s most famous avenue – instantly killing one officer, and seriously injuring two others. ISIS quickly took credit for the attack. The two leading Presidential candidates in the race, conservative member of the European Parliament, Marine Le Pen, and 39-year-old investment banker, Emmanuel Macron, both vowed to end campaigning one day early.
Interestingly, campaigning comes to an abrupt end at midnight the Friday night before Sunday’s election – giving French voters the weekend to make their decision, free of the media chatter surrounding a presidential campaign. Marine Le Pen, this morning called on the French government to immediately reinstate controls at the French borders. “My government … will implement this policy, so that the Republic will live, and France will live.” In stark contrast, Macron, who is leading Le Pen by a slight margin in some polls, argued against a quick government response: “We must not yield to fear today.” However, just as in Trump’s election, remember, polls can be easily manipulated. If he won, Macron would become the youngest president in French history. Macron is definitely the big banker’s candidate. He was an investment banker before he became France’s economy minister. He wants France to stay in both the European Union and it’s money, the Euro. Le Pen, on the other hand is the French version of Donald Trump – plus something extra – if I’m reading the tea leaves right. Le Pen wants out of the European Union, despite being a member of the European Parliament. She is an anti-invasion hawk and says she will try to rescue French culture from a burgeoning immigrant population. She has pledged to get France out of the Euro, as well, and return to its historic sovereign money, the French Franc. Unlike Macron who has been well-funded by loans from the big French banks, Le Pen has not been able to get a single French bank to lend to her campaign. French banks have stonewalled her candidacy. So, why? What gives? This one little sentence in a piece by Reuters this week on the issues for each of the 11 candidates reveals why. One of Le Pen’s issues is to: “Re-establish French franc currency and make central bank answerable to French Treasury.” Most people will simply shrug their shoulders and ask, “So what?” Because most people think this is the way their national economic system functions – the central bank would be under control of the national Treasury Department and the Treasury would issue the money and maintain its value by controlling the quantity issued. But no!
For example, in the U.S. our central bank, the Federal Reserve System, is completely out of the control of the government – the Treasury Department, or the Congress – and Fed officials brag about their power.