Thursday, April 13, 2006

India... Here I come!

We are flying to India tonight with my girlfriend for 20 days of vacation in the North. This is going to be an amazing trip. We are landing in Delhi, stay two days there then go to Agra (Taj Mahal), Jaipur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Udaipur and finally Bombay where we will take our plane back to London. It's going to be nice to get out of London for a bit, especially when some of my classmates are already back in school :)

I'm planning to take a lot of picture and I'm bracing myself for a nice culture shock as well. I don't think I will be confused by the overall likely poverty (after all, most African countries I've been too are in a much terrible state) but it's more the swarm of people that will be impressive. I'll try to write a couple of post on the blog from a cybercafe but don't count on this too much.

The bag is ready...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Arrested for insider trading charges at 23

It seems there is no age limit for white-collar crime. Gordon Gekko, in the Wall Street movie, was in his 40s when he was arrested for insider-trading... Well today it's starting in the early 20s as reported by the Washington Post. Two employees of top Wall Street banks (Merrill and Goldman) have been arrested on insider-trading charges. The Merrill analyst is 23 and the Goldman associate is 26. They were helped by a former Goldman employee who is 29. The SEC estimates that the trio has made $6.7m. If charged, they would face up to 70 years of prison. Way to go to start a good career!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

French students have won

Chirac has decided yesterday to replace the controversial CPE law by a proposition to help young people in difficult situation to find a job. This victory was hailed in left wing parties, unions and students and with their renewed vigor, some of the most extremists ones now want to tackle the CNE that was voted a few months ago (basically, the same law as the CPE but for SMEs ) but the movement seems to be loosing pressure, at least in the universities.

I was not really in favor of that law, especially since it created an unfair discrimination against the young people. In my opinion, a single contract for all private sector employees allowing for more flexibility during a one year period would have been much better but I reckon it would have been quite difficult to implement in France.

So what are the lessons of this crisis? First of all, the Villepin "take no prisoner" method does not work when it comes to sensitive social issues. Discussions with unions, students and companies would have been useful prior to drafting the law. Another learning our beloved politicians will take from this crisis is that the country is not ready for a reform of the employment system. Therefore, it is likely that no candidate to the upcoming 2007 presidential election will put that in its program and France is going to be stuck with its cumbersome and rigid employment code for the next couple of years.

What the impact of all this? The French financial market barely noticed the crisis and hit a two-year high last week. Indeed, the business community is more focused on the progresses of Suez-GDF, Mittal-Arcelor or Lucent-Alcatel deals. Since most of the large French companies have workforce and business that spread across the world, the impact of social unrest in France was very small. In the international community, France has once again shown an image of rigidity but that should not slow FDI very much. Indeed, foreign companies such as McDonalds thrive in France and the repeal of the CPE will not change much for them (they use CDI, the most generous contract, for more than 80% of their 35,000 workforce).

For the few young French people who do not wish to become civil servants, this might encourage them to expatriate, in particular to the UK. This expatriation is the focus of this article in the Guardian (the one I was interviewed for, but they did not publish any of my comments...). Yet, I believe that's a good thing for France since this expatriate community is learning new skills and will (hopefully) come back to France at some point... Well, may be some of us won't come back but we can still send remittances back to France and support the economy this way... OK it's a joke...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

My first interview

I received a call from a journalist of the Guardian yesterday. She obtained my contact detail through the French Club of the London Business School. She was preparing a story on young French people moving to the UK to find a job. I guess it's a pretty hot subject right now with all the demonstrations in France about the new job law for young people.

Anyway, it lasted five minutes and she basically wanted to know why I decided to come to the UK (easy: the London Business School is one of the best European MBA and I wanted a truly international experience).

Her second question was if in my experience, it was easier to find a job in the UK than in France. That's not a simple one to answer when you think of it. As a MBA student, I was able to meet more than 30 companies on campus so I was not really doing a typical job search and I cannot compare to France where I haven't been in that position. Further more, I haven't sent a single resume in France so once again, I cannot compare to the UK. I think it's relatively easy to find a job in France right now when you are in your late twenties, with some experience and a good degree but the salary won't be as competitive as in the UK. However, in terms of quality of life, France is probably better than the UK.

Finally, she asked me why I've decided to stay in the UK after the MBA. I replied that job opportunities in the specific industry I was targeting (management consulting) were better in the UK than in France which is probably true but to be honest, I'm not completely sure. I also told here that I enjoyed London quite a lot but was not planning to stay here all my life. I've already lived in seven different countries on three continents so I'm not planning to stop now :)

The story should be published on Thursday's edition and I'll linked to it if that's the case.

Monday, April 03, 2006

US show making fun of French

Further to Guillaume's posts, I'm becoming an addict to YouTube. This video is from the Daily Show of Comedy Central making fun of French demonstrations.