Great edifices, like great mountains, are the work of centuries:
I should think many of you reading this brief right now have visited, seen, or at least heard of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. No doubt too that you have spotted the saddening news of the fire that last night caused as-yet unknown damage to Paris’ iconic Notre Dame cathedral. Yesterday evening through to this morning, admirers of the building stood silent, watching flames climb up the Cathedral’s features. Many even screamed as the spire gave way atop of the 12th century building.
Yesterday evening’s dialogue and indeed this morning’s papers were anticipated to revolve around France, yet not with headlines as emotive and saddening as “Heart in ashes” – La Croix, and “Our lady of tears” – Le Parisien. Yesterday evening, President Macron was supposed to deliver his “first concrete measures” on national television following two months of public consultations under the auspices of the grand national debate.
Les gilets jaunes, or yellow jackets, have taken to the streets of Paris and many other French cities every weekend so far this year. The movement originally arose in reaction to rising and unaffordable fuel prices but rapidly grew into an embodiment of discontent in Macron’s presidency and France’s per capita economic struggle.
Ten thousand nationwide debates and two million online responses had informed the President that some 82% of the population wanted to see a tax cut and at 8pm yesterday evening, those participants as well as international markets were waiting to see what the President would come up with. In hindsight perhaps Le Figaro, a Parisien daily newspaper, might still have run with the headline “Le désastre” – The disaster – albeit with a different picture.
With the fire breaking out around 6:30pm local time, the President announced he would postpone the announcement. Instead, Emmanuel Macron yesterday evening had the chance to pledge to rebuild the cathedral because “that’s what our history deserves, because that is our destiny”. Resilience and defiance in the face of this national disaster in the long run may do little to protect the French president from a hugely dissatisfied electorate.
The world’s reaction to last night events (bar perhaps that of Trump’s flying water tankers), is testimony enough that we won’t need another Victor Hugo to save the great cathedral unlike last time. Macron, however, might not count on so much sympathy if his reforms go up in flames.
Oil prices snapped their longest winning streak in three years amidst a report of increased US oil rig activity. The slip in crude oil prices hampered Sterling support through the day. Sterling found more solid footing when Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt echoed shadow Chancellor McDonnell’s opinion that cross party talks were more constructive than people have thus far given them credit for.
The Rand continues its impressive march forward this year despite warnings of political uncertainty from the IMF.
Discussion and Analysis by Charles Porter
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