A blog about business and economics.

Feb. 10 2017 7:53 PM

Meet the Teacher Whose Powerful, Christian Defense of Obamacare Made a GOP Town Hall Go Viral

Jessi Bohon was more than a bit tired when I called her Friday. The 35-year-old high school French teacher who lives in Cookeville, Tennessee, didn’t expect her first real moment of political activism to go national. Now she was hearing from family and friends and fielding a large number of Facebook friend requests from strangers, all of which she was deleting.

On Thursday, Bohon challenged her representative in Congress, Republican Diane Black, on the Affordable Care Act at a public meeting—and framed her personal support for the health care reform in explicitly religious terms.

“As a Christian, my whole philosophy in life is to pull up the unfortunate. So the individual mandate, that’s what it does. The healthy people pull up the sick,” Bohon said at the event at Middle Tennessee State University. Her concern? If Republicans repeal the ACA and offer coverage to people with chronic illnesses and pre-existing conditions via so-called high-risk pools—as several GOP proposals would do—they’ll have less coverage. “We are effectively punishing our sickest people,” Bohon said, adding that Medicaid should be expanded so we can “make everybody have insurance.” These comments inspired much of the room to all but explode with applause.

Black initially answered Bohon by arguing there are millions of people who still chose to not buy health insurance even as others were able to obtain coverage thanks to the ACA. “You don’t want to hurt one group of people to help another,” the congresswoman said.

This didn’t come close to the heart and meaning of Bohon’s question, and the teacher spoke up again. “How many of those people were in states where they played a political game with people’s lives?” she asked, seemingly referring to the places, including Tennessee, that declined the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. Black refused to answer, saying she would “pass.”

Bohon’s comments amounted to the kind of forceful, moral argument for universal health care we need to hear more often. As a result, the clip went viral, as people alternately thrilled to or dismissed Bohon’s sentiment and its explicitly religious context:

Bohon tells me she is insured through her work and has never needed to access the Affordable Care Act insurance markets, nor has anyone she is close with. While she supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary and voted for Hillary Clinton in the general election, she wouldn’t have even considered herself politically active until recently, when the aftermath of the election “energized” her to join her local chapter of Indivisible, an umbrella for a growing number of groups opposed to the stated policies of the Trump administration.

So what motivated Bohon to drive an hour and a half and speak as personally and powerfully as she did?

Bohon told me about her childhood, growing up as one of three children of a single mom in rural Grundy, Virginia, a small Appalachian coal-mining town near the border with Kentucky. “We were the poorest of the poor,” she says. “We had no car, we were on welfare.” When children at school made fun of her because she wore clothes from Walmart and had chipped teeth, she says, “My mom made me feel special because she would tell me it didn’t matter, because Jesus loves me.”

Bohon’s mother “raised me with the belief that Jesus loves poor people, he loves the oppressed, he loves the most vulnerable and I will tell you that’s a lesson that stuck with me,” Bohon says. While she currently doesn’t attend church, she considers herself a Christian. “I don’t go to a fancy church, I don’t really have a good grasp on the literal interpretation of the bible. I believe in the central message of Jesus, which was pull up the people.”

In fact, Bohon says she framed the question the way she did because she is irked by politicians who say they are Christian but advocate for policies that don’t, in her view, reflect the faith’s principles—the looming repeal of the ACA, which could leave millions uninsured without a viable replacement, being an example. “To me the central message of Jesus Christ is pulling up the oppressed, the vulnerable, and the poor. You could apply that to a lot of things today. Black Lives Matter, people with disabilities, the LGBT community, the refugees, or health insurance. The central principle remains the same.”

Yet when I ask Bohon what she hopes people get out of her burst of viral celebrity, she doesn’t mention religion or health insurance. She returns to her childhood, to the stereotypes Americans have of Appalachia and the South. “There are people in Tennessee, there are people from these little rural areas, that are different than they are categorized to be.” And what might that be? “Hillbilly dumb.” That’s wrong, she says. “I learned everything about taking care of your community growing up there.”

Feb. 10 2017 5:07 PM

Donald Trump Demotes the Entire Economics Profession

Ever since it was created by Congress in 1946, the Council of Economic Advisers has acted as a sort of in-house think tank for presidential administrations, ready to answer any and all questions related to the dismal science. Typically led by a renowned academic economist—future Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan was one exception to that rule—it provides input on policy, produces the annual Economic Report of the President, briefs POTUS on developments like the monthly jobs report, and more. At times, it has been deeply influential. Christina Romer, President Obama's first CEA chairperson, was the key early advocate for using a massive stimulus bill to blunt the Great Recession, for instance.

President Donald Trump has yet to pick his own CEA chairperson. But whoever fills the role will not likely have a particularly powerful voice in the administration. According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump has decided that it will no longer be considered a “Cabinet-level” role, as it was under Obama. In a sense, he's symbolically demoting the economics profession as a whole.

Trump has never relied much on economists. This isn't especially surprising, since he generally disvalues expertise (especially of the academic variety) and vanishingly few practitioners of the discipline see eye to eye with him on policy. During his campaign, Trump's official board of economic advisers included just one Ph.D. economist—Peter Navarro, the anti-China polemicist whose views about trade are widely considered outside the academic mainstream. The other people on the list with some formal econ training included Stephen Moore, the journeyman conservative tax-cut evangelist, and David Malpass, who as chief economist of Bear Stearns told the world in 2007 not to worry about the credit crisis.

Navarro is now the White House's trade czar. But aside from that, Trump's economic policy team is dominated by finance and business veterans—commerce secretary pick Wilbur Ross is a private equity billionaire; Treasury Secretary–designature Steve Mnuchin waltzed from Goldman Sachs to the hedge fund world to owning and running a regional bank; National Economic Council Chairman Gary Cohn was president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs. They are not men whom you'd probably call on to make or explain detailed projections about economic growth; Ross' attempts with Navarro to “score” Trump's policy proposals during the campaign were amateurish, at best. But it's not as if Trump has ever been one to care for careful data-based analysis.

It's unclear who might ultimately fill the top CEA spot. At first, CNBC talking head Larry Kudlow, who lacks an economics degree, seemed to be the lead contender, but his pro–free trade views seem to have scuttled his chances. There's also been some talk about the American Enterprise Institute's Kevin Hassett, who is generally well-regarded in conservative policy circles, and known outside of them mostly as the co-author of the hilarious late-'90s tech-bubble relic Dow 36,000. It's unclear whether his stock is rising or falling. But in a sense, it may not matter much. Whoever gets picked, the lucky winner will pretty clearly be a second-tier player in Trumpland.

This is not a particularly great tragedy in the overall scheme of the current White House. And it's not as if the secret to a successful presidency is listening carefully to every last word uttered by the Ph.D.s on your staff—economists get things wrong all the time. But it does feel like one more symbol of this Dunning-Kruger presidency, where the amateurs are consistently convinced that they know more than the experts.

Feb. 10 2017 3:36 PM

The U.S. Deported a Mom From Phoenix and Staged Immigration Raids in L.A. Is This Normal?

Is This Normal? is a new Slate series that will attempt to determine which controversial Trump World behaviors are outrageously unprecedented, which are outrageous but within the realm of what others have gotten away with, and which shouldn't be considered outrageous at all.


The Issue


As a debate over immigration enforcement roils statehouses and federal courts, actions by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement police in Phoenix and Los Angeles this week spurred protests in both cities and statements from appalled politicians.


Guadalupe García de Rayos, an undocumented mother of two, reported for her regular check-in with ICE agents in Phoenix on Wednesday and was taken into custody. On Thursday morning, she was deported to Mexico—a country she had not seen since she was 14 years old.


García de Rayos had been convicted of a low-level felony in 2009 for using a fake social security number to work at a Mesa, Arizona, water park; she was arrested during one of then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s notorious immigration raids. She appealed a voluntary departure decision in 2013 (different from a removal) and federal immigration authorities have permitted her to remain in the U.S. as long as she checked in with ICE once or twice a year. This year was different: García de Rayos was one of the first undocumented immigrants to be deported following a scheduled meeting with ICE agents.


Feb. 9 2017 7:52 PM

This Republican Senator’s Paid Family Leave Plan Actually Makes Donald Trump’s Look Generous

Remember the time, back during the 2016 campaign, that Ivanka Trump said her father supported family leave and other policies helping women in the workplace? It was a laughable assertion until an actual proposal emerged—and that was kind of laughable, too. But even that plan, which would require employers to offer mothers of newborns six weeks of maternity leave paid for with unemployment benefits, was apparently too much for some congressional Republicans.

Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer introduced on Thursday two pieces of legislation addressing paid leave and pay equity. They will, Fischer said in a press release, “provide flexibility for the many families juggling responsibilities at home and at work.

“Let’s seize this opportunity and make a difference for families across this country,” Fischer added.

What difference? These proposals won’t do nearly as much as Fischer claims. In fact, they’re all but identical to legislation Fischer has sponsored in the past to less-than-ecstatic acclaim.

The family leave benefit, the Strong Families Act, will offer employers a two-year tax credit of up to 25 percent of a worker’s salary in return for offering at least two weeks of paid time off to employees. When Fischer tried to drum up enthusiasm for this proposal at a 2015 presentation at the American Enterprise Institute, reviews from the left were not enthusiastic. “Relying on a voluntary tax credit, that’s not good enough,” said Heather Boushey, the executive director of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth (who would go on to serve on Hillary Clinton’s planned presidential transition team). “Is it really going to change employer behavior?” said Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution.* “They’re still covering 75 percent of the cost.” In other words, a not-mandatory plan that would only help employers cover a smallish portion of what they would need to pay out probably isn’t going to move the needle very far.

There is, if you’re wondering, legislation that would offer up a significantly better benefit. On Tuesday, Democratic New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro said they would once again sponsor the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, which would offer Americans up to 12 weeks of paid time off for childbirth (or adoption), serious illness, or to take care of an ill family member.

As for Fischer’s pay equity legislation, introduced in tandem with Republican Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, it also promises less than it appears to. Yes, it would forbid employers from retaliating against or firing women for seeking to find out more about overall workplace salaries. Sounds good—but it’s worth noting that the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Democratic version of this legislation, would also clear some of the current roadblocks that make it hard for women to take their employers to court over the matter.

Fischer is something of a specialist at pushing transformative-sounding bills that don’t especially help anyone. In late January she introduced legislation that would reform the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, replacing the director—currently Richard Cordray—with a five-person commission. Her claim? The CFPB, which is best known these days for busting Wells Fargo for setting up 2 million unapproved accounts on behalf of customers, has fallen prey to “bad decisions by a single director,” and that has somehow “kept families locked out of economic opportunity.” As I’ve written in the past, this innocent-sounding reform is anything but; it’s really a recipe for regulatory gridlock.

But back to the matter at hand. For now, given the Republican stranglehold on Congress, we need to hope—of all things!—that Donald Trump is as good as his word, at least when it comes to family leave. The Washington Post reported earlier this week that a White House spokesperson said of the issue, “It’s a top priority of his. The president has expressed a need for a comprehensive maternity plan.”

Here’s hoping he means that both seriously and literally. Yes, Trump’s campaign proposal doesn’t come close to the Democratic plan—for starters, it offers only half the paid time off.  But not only is it a lot better than the national policy we’ve got now—which is, famously, no required paid leave at all—it’s better than what Fischer is proposing. Sometimes you take what you can get.

*Correction, Feb. 10, 2017: This post originally misidentified the Brookings Institution as the Brookings Institute. 

Feb. 9 2017 4:17 PM

This Damning Chart Shows How Much of a Head Start White Families Have Over Black Families

The yawning wealth gap between black and white families is one of the starkest legacies of America's history of racist social policymaking. As far as simple statistical comparisons go, I can't recall any representations of it as striking as this chart from a recent report by the left-wing think tank Demos and the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University. As it shows, the median white household headed by a high-school dropout is wealthier today than the median black household headed by someone who went to college. The latter category includes those who at least attended a two- or four-year college, but not graduate degree holders.


That's how much of a head start white Americans have. The median black American who pursues higher education is still poorer, judged by net worth, than a white person who never finished 12th grade.

I'm guessing that this stat is driven partly by debt—net worth measures a household's assets minus its liabilities, and black students tend to borrow heavily to attend college. Nonetheless, it's part of a larger pattern that Demos and IASP identify in which black families tend to have a net worth that's lower, or roughly equal to, white families who have made what a lot of people might consider worse life decisions. Two-parent black families have a lower median net worth than white single parents ($16,000 vs. $35,800); black Americans younger than 55 who work full time have an only slightly higher median net worth than whites who work part time ($10,800 vs. $9,200). They also note research showing that black families tend to spend less than whites in similar income brackets, so thrift doesn't appear to be the issue.

What accounts for these differences then? One major factor is that middle-class white families have been able to accumulate some wealth over generations, whereas black families have been less able to do so thanks to policies like redlining that prevented them from buying homes and building equity. (This, as you might remember, was the crux Ta-Nehisi Coates' case for reparations.)

“Many popular explanations for racial economic inequality overlook these deep roots, asserting that wealth disparities must be solely the result of individual life choices and personal achievements,” the authors write. “The misconception that personal responsibility accounts for the racial wealth gap is an obstacle to the policies that could effectively address racial disparities.”

In other words, people need to understand that even when black families make the “right” choices, they still end up behind.

Feb. 9 2017 1:07 PM

An Electronics Startup Responded to Trump’s Muslim Ban With a Times Square Ad in Arabic

This post originally appeared in Inc.

Ayah Bdeir, the founder and CEO of electronics startup LittleBits, was planning on hosting her mother in New York City next month. But when President Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning immigrants from seven predominately Muslim nations--and Syrians indefinitely--Bdeir started to worry. Her mother, who is a Canadian citizen, was born in Syria. As of Friday, it remains unclear whether she'll be able to enter the country.

"The issue is personal for me," Bdeir explains, writing in a post on Medium. "My family and I are refugees many times over. My parents are both from Syria and moved to Lebanon as kids. They then fled Beirut to Montreal when the war broke out."

Feb. 9 2017 11:08 AM

The Hot New Corporate PR Strategy? Giving Trump Credit for Stuff He Didn’t Do.

On Wednesday, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich stopped by the Oval Office for a photo op with President Trump and announced that thanks to the new administration’s business-friendly policies, his company would invest $7 billion to finish a new chip factory in Arizona employing thousands of workers. The publicity stunt raised a few eyebrows, since Intel first pledged to build the plant back in 2011, and while the project was later paused, industry watchers did expect the company to finish it eventually. “This would have happened anyway. This was always part of their plan,” one analyst told the Washington Post. “But obviously the current administration and Intel are going to try to get some political gain out of it.”

This appears to be the hot new survival strategy in corporate America, at least according to the Financial Times. Fearful that they might become the target of an angry tweet, corporate chieftains are being told to give Trump news he can brag about instead, such as new factory openings or hiring—whether or not the White House actually had anything to do with it. Per the FT:

Lawyers and public relation experts are advising their S&P 500 clients to take a leaf from the US president’s media playbook and find ways to deliver Mr Trump news he can claim as personal victories.
“People have understood that Donald likes to win and they need to play into that,” said another lawyer, who worked for Mr Trump during a high-profile bankruptcy case in the 1990s. “The basic strategy is to look at whether you have made an announcement in the past that you can rehash” to align with the president’s election promises.

It has seemed obvious for a while that this would become standard operating procedure during the Trump years. SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son demoed the playbook back in December when he stood side by side with the then-president-elect to announce that his company would invest $50 billion in the United States and create 50,000 jobs. It soon emerged that the money would come from a tech fund the Japanese telecom giant had started with Saudi Arabia in October. The obvious subtext of the meeting was that Son, whose company owns the majority of Sprint and has long dreamed of a merger with T-Mobile, was trying to curry some favor with the new administration on the cheap.

General Motors seemed to pull a similar move later on after Trump threatened the company with his border tax, announcing that it was moving some manufacturing to the U.S. from Mexico (something it had already been doing). As the FT notes, “GM is not the only one making old promises new. A string of chief executives have recently vowed to create thousands of jobs and invest billions of dollars in the US. Amazon, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Foxconn and Bayer have all touted new jobs in the past few weeks.”

So here we are. Trump's economic policy is a toxic combination of tax cuts and deregulations that will enrich shareholders and already wealthy executives, paired with bellicose trade rhetoric and publicity stunts to give the impression that he is creating jobs for average workers. Out of fear or self-interest, corporate America appears to be playing along with the charade.

Feb. 9 2017 9:35 AM

How New York’s Bike-Share System Pays Riders to Make It Run Better

Any member of a bike-share program has come up against one of two frustrating scenarios: a full dock at the end of a trip, or an empty dock at the start.

Bike-share professionals call this the “rebalancing problem,” in which riders overload a system’s most popular takeoff points and destinations, rendering docks useless. The question, which has attracted the attention of dozens of mathematicians and scientists, is what kind of algorithm might solve this issue, keeping every dock well-stocked but not fully stocked.

Motivate, the company that runs New York’s Citi Bike program, has tried a number of different strategies to move bikes around: trucks, sprinter vans, bike-drawn trailers, valet staff at the busiest drop-off locations. More than 120 people are on the task. For Washington’s Capital Bikeshare system, rebalancing has accounted for more than half of the system’s operating costs.

In May, Citi Bike tried something else: Pay members to redistribute the bikes themselves. Nine months later, 2,000 people have opted into that pilot program, called Bike Angels. Guided by online maps, they account for more than 10 percent of rebalancing on busy days—between 350 and 600 of the 3,500 bikes that must be moved to make the system function smoothly.

Feb. 8 2017 6:09 PM

Trump’s Tweets Used to Decimate Companies’ Stock Prices. Why Didn’t Nordstrom’s Plummet?

At 10:51 a.m. on Wednesday, President Trump fired up Twitter to denounce Nordstrom. The upscale department store, beloved by coastal elites and red-state suburbanites for its customer service and classy fashion, had recently dropped Ivanka Trump’s line of clothing and accessories from its shelves. The president was angry.

Nordstrom didn’t react, other than to note, as it had last week, that it had dropped Ivanka’s brand because of its wan sales performance. And neither did its stock. After dipping slightly, Nordstrom shares quickly recovered their equilibrium. In this instance, the Trump effect was a blip.

What’s going on here? Set aside for a moment the sheer raging lunacy of the idea that a sitting president, the guy who controls nuclear codes and commands a vast army, is using his office to attack a American department store. Markets tend to normalize to new environments. A few months ago, it was shocking, unprecedented, inconceivable that a president would bash individual publicly held companies and publicly strike deals with others. And so company-specific Trump tweets tended to inspire an immediate reaction. Trump has a huge following, which he had managed to convert into real power. So if he’s calling out a company as a bad actor, you hit the sell button first and asked questions later. Lockheed Martin’s stock, for example, dived in December when president-elect Trump bashed the high costs of the F-35.

But the more normal these attacks become—there he tweets again!—the easier it has become for investors to ignore or look through them, even as some smarties have devised algorithms to trade on the news of Trump’s company-specific tweets. The market has learned to ignore Trump’s tweets in part because the histrionics haven’t been followed by meaningful action. As Trump has realized, you can’t run the entire government by executive order. Making moves to punish or aid businesses—like reforming health care, or having Medicare negotiate drug prices, or cutting corporate taxes, or building a wall—requires legislation, assent by the courts, and bureaucracies to execute the policy. Given that many of Trump’s threats won’t materialize, investors have concluded that they shouldn’t sell on his bluster.

There’s also another dynamic at work that helps explain the Nordstrom nonreaction. Markets are smart. In sifting through Trump’s tweets, investors are quickly distinguishing between the companies that Trump, his administration, and his followers can actually help or hurt directly and those they can’t.

Into the first category fall companies for whom the federal government supplies a large amount of revenues via contracts or appropriation: defense contracts like Lockheed Martin, drug companies, hospitals. They are exposed directly to the wrath of Trump. A subset of this category includes companies for whom the link is less direct—a change in regulations or policy could either hurt or harm their bottom line over time. This subset includes for-profit colleges and prisons, student lenders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and Wall Street firms who might benefit from decreased regulation. They’re less levered to Trump tweets but can still be affected.

But some stocks are likely impervious to Trump’s rage. These include consumer-facing companies that don’t depend on government contracts for revenues, or that don’t need favorable government policy to buttress their business model. Instead, they rely on their brand, products, customer service, and position in the marketplace. And it takes a lot more than a tweet from a historically unpopular president to get consumers to sour on brands they like.

Companies are even less vulnerable if the type of people who are most likely to respond to Trump call for a boycott or vindictive shunning aren’t likely to be their patrons in the first place. This describes Nordstrom to a tee. It’s a higher-end department store. It doesn’t have government contracts. Spend some time on Nordstrom’s store locator map, and you’ll see that, electorally speaking, Nordstrom is as un-Trumpian a company as they come. The chain is based in Seattle and its physical outlets are clustered on the seaboards, plus the urban and suburban havens of red states. There are 80 Nordstrom stores or outlets in California alone, and none in many of the lightly populated states that Trump won: Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi, North and South Dakota. If you were to construct a Venn diagram of Nordstrom shoppers and the subjects of the book Hillbilly Elegy, the two circles wouldn’t touch. Many of Trump’s supporters are already boycotting Nordstrom—they just don’t know it. And others, like upper-income suburban whites, may ultimately not much care.

In fact, in some instances, a hostile Trump tweet can actually be a positive to investors. In recent weeks, we’ve seen a phenomenon whereby people quickly rally to the side of those who have been attacked by Trump or who take actions that can be perceived as being part of the resistance. Nordstrom is already well-liked by its core customers, some percentage of whom may take the tweet as an excuse to support and patronize the store. And that would be good for business. So it’s not all that surprising that, by late afternoon, Nordstrom’s stock had risen nearly 4 percent.

In January, busloads of well-off groups of progressives traveled to the National Mall in Washington to rally against Trump. This weekend, we may just see them taking their activism to their closest Nordstrom.

Feb. 8 2017 5:38 PM

France’s Nationalist Party Has a Plan to Break Up the Euro and Probably Start a New Financial Crisis

Marine Le Pen, the depressingly popular, proto-Trumpish leader of France's anti-EU, anti-immigrant National Front party, is probably not going to win her country's upcoming presidential election. Polls show that she's leading the first-round vote at 25 percent but would get creamed in the runoff. However, considering the way we've all watched seemingly unlikely political nightmares spring to life over the past year, it seems at least worth noting that Le Pen has more or less promised to rock the global financial system to its foundations with a half-baked scheme to pull France from the euro.

Le Pen's top economic adviser, Bernard Monot, outlined the plan to Bloomberg recently, and reportedly discussed it back in September with a governor from the Bank of France. The plot has three steps:

  1. Le Pen would call a meeting with the EU and ask it to replace the euro with brand-new national currencies. If it balked, France would go it alone.
  2. Le Pen would commandeer the French central bank, ending its independence.
  3. She would print “new French francs” to finance government spending.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the National Front is essentially threatening to suicide-bomb the whole EU monetary system. It's long been said that if Spain or Italy were to abandon the euro, it could spell doom for the entire currency bloc. (Greece, not so much, which is why it has close to zero leverage in debt negotiations. Sorry, Greece.) Were France—the eurozone's second largest economy—to unilaterally bid adieu, it would be even more devastating. Markets would seize. The cost of borrowing would skyrocket and become prohibitively expensive for many smaller countries in anticipation of a chaotic breakup, which could conceivably lead to sovereign defaults by governments unable to roll over debts. Banks holding lots of euro-denominated assets would be imperiled. There would be bank runs (I'm guessing people would rush to withdraw euros and convert them to dollars). It would be carnage.

And if the rest of Europe decided to go along with Le Pen's plan? I doubt the outcome would be much better. People have tried to imagine an orderly process for breaking down the euro, but the plots tend to rely on springing the news quickly and slamming down controls on the movement of money between borders to prevent chaos. Obviously, that's not what anybody who inhabits the real world is looking at anytime soon.

As for the National Front's plan to end central bank independence and monetize government spending, well, Monot tries to present it in the least Zimbabwe-ish way possible. According to Bloomberg:

The Bank of France would be “autonomous” but supervised by parliament and allowed to add new money into the system up to an annual maximum of 5 percent of the total money supply, Monot said. That’s roughly equivalent in size to the ECB’s current program of quantitative easing, he said. Monot forecast that inflation in France would rise to 3 percent under the new regime.
“What’s worse?” he asked. “A reasonable rate of inflation or the near-deflation we’ve been living in?”

Suffice to say, that is not how things usually work out when populist governments take control of a nation's printing press.

In any event, what if things didn't go quite according to plan? Monot says he's got it under control:

“I don’t think it will be a catastrophe because France is after all a major country and people will understand soon enough that we are working as patriots to restore France’s sovereignty,” Monot said in an interview. “If there is a catastrophe, I have a plan—it’s in here,” he added, pointing to his head.

Sound familiar?