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Marine Le Pen’s nerve-jangling plans to revive the French franc

HOW do you solve a problem like Marine? Ms Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front, has indicated that she hopes to reintroduce a national currency if she is elected president in May. In a recent speech, she suggested that government bonds would be redenominated in francs instead of euros.

The proposal was dressed up in technicalities. The franc would be revived as a “parallel” currency for official transactions and used alongside the euro in a version of the systems (the snake and the exchange-rate mechanism) that existed in the 1970s and 1980s. Such schemes tied European currencies together but were subject to regular crises, with France periodically devaluing the franc.

Investors would pretty quickly see through the façade. There is not much point in bringing back a national currency unless you want the right to devalue it. And there is not much point in redenominating government bonds in francs unless you want to pay creditors back less than they expected. (This might technically count as a default, according to Moody’s, a rating agency; it depends on the exact circumstances.) If that happened, it…Continue reading Click Here For Original Source Of The Article

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Two big European makers of eyewear agree to merge

GIANT, cross-border mergers in Europe have been rare in recent years. Deals fail to happen even when mid-sized companies—such as family-owned and run specialist manufacturers in northern Italy or the Mittelstand in Germany—have the chance to gain global heft. For that blame founding owner-managers, many of whom are reluctant to lose control of treasured companies. Blame too an artisanal culture, particularly in southern Europe, in which firms’ owners say they are content to remain small and relatively obscure. Occasionally, too, nationalist politicians block efforts by perfidious foreigners to snaffle prized local brands.

Now, though, one of the largest-ever mergers in Europe actually looks set to go ahead. Luxottica, an Italian maker of fancy specs that was founded in 1961—it owns brands such as Ray Ban and Oakley—is to merge with Essilor, a spiffy French producer of lenses. The joint entity is set to combine Italian style with deft French engineering. The deal is supposed to be completed by the end of the year, creating a new entity with a market value of €46bn ($49bn), 140,000 staff and annual revenues of €15bn. It will be...Continue reading

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