Friday, February 01, 2008

Vive la France! ...and forget about Billary-Bama

There are only two pictures of Jérôme (this is the other one)
David Seaton's News Links
Just to tear ourselves away from the day's round of horrors in Iraq and Kenia and the boredom of Billary-'Bama, here is an article from the Wall Street Journal which describes how Jérôme Kerviel is turning into a national hero in France, the "Che Guevara of finance".

I love the French attitude to this whole business. This is how the women eat what they want and don't get fat: it's all in the mind! What the French still have to teach Americans is the idea of le petit bonheur, the happiness of small things. When the Americans catch on to it they will no longer have to "pursue" happiness, they will find it all around them.

Here is a prediction: there is going to be a film of this (of course) and the star who plays Jérôme Kerviel will be, Gad Elmaleh. (it will probably be Tom Cruise or Shia LaBeouf but it should be Gad Elmaleh).

Gad Elmaleh is a hilarious, enormously talented, Moroccan-Jewish comedian who works out of Paris. I recently saw him in a delicious comedy with Audrey Tatou called, "Hors de Prix", which sounds sort of racy, if you can't read French or spel so gud. DS

In a French Twist, Jérôme Kerviel Gets Hero Treatment - Wall Street Journal
Abstract: Société Générale says wayward trader Jérôme Kerviel lost the bank $7.2 billion. But that was last week. He's now on his way to cult celebrity -- and he still hasn't lost his job. Société Générale has stopped paying Mr. Kerviel and told him not to come to the office, but it hasn't managed to formally fire him. French law stipulates that to do that, the bank must first call him in for a sit-down meeting and explain its dissatisfaction. He has the right to bring along a trade-union official, a lawyer or anyone else he'd like. (...) Reviled by Société Générale as a malevolent fraudster and "mutating virus," Mr. Kerviel, 31 years old, is now being hailed by a growing band of fans as "Robin Hood," "the Che Guevara of Finance" and even a genius worthy of the Nobel Prize in economics. "Let's be honest: No one likes banks...and people like the rich to get cheated," says Christophe Rocancourt, a celebrated French con man who swindled wealthy Americans in the 1990s by masquerading as a French member of the Rockefeller family, a film producer and various other people. Edward Yardeni, an American economist who runs an investment-strategy consulting firm, credits Mr. Kerviel with helping save the U.S. from recession. "Merci beaucoup, Jérôme," says Mr. Yardeni, a former chief economist at Deutsche Bank. Société Générale's unwinding of Mr. Kerviel's bad bets, he says, accelerated a market slide that prodded the Fed to slash interest rates. Mr. Yardeni says French courts will have to decide whether Mr. Kerviel belongs in prison, but "we owe Jérôme quite a few thanks," and he "certainly deserves a footnote in American economic history."(...) When the news of Mr. Kerviel's disastrously bad bets first broke, he seemed destined for infamy and shame. Even trade unions, usually quick to rally to the defense of employees targeted for dismissal, showed little sympathy or solidarity. But the tide is now turning as questions mount about the bank management's own missteps and a change in Mr. Kerviel's public image from recklessly greedy master-of-the-universe to luckless little guy struggling to get ahead. Unlike Société Générale's executives, mostly upper-crust graduates of elite colleges, Mr. Kerviel grew up in a small provincial town in a family of modest means. Lacking the academic credentials and connections of the bank's highfliers, he struggled to get his feet on the lowest rung of the trading ladder. A Web site set up to chart the saga,, has started polling visitors about whether the trader is to blame: According to one of the site's founders, 65% say no. Facebook, the social-networking site, now has dozens of pages devoted to various Jérôme Kerviel support groups, including one that wants to "fight for Jérôme Kerviel's reintegration in Société Générale." An American outfit is hawking "Jérôme Kerviel Is a Hero" T-shirts, and a British oddsmaker Ladbrokes has opened betting on who will play Jérôme Kerviel in a likely future film. Mr. Kerviel's biggest fan base is at home in France, which often has a soft spot for cheeky rogues, particularly when their victims are well-to-do. Mr. Rocancourt, the former Rockefeller impostor, has written three books about his exploits and says his own life story is being made into a movie. After doing jail time in the U.S. and Canada, he now lives in Paris with a former Miss France. Mr. Rocancourt urges Mr. Kerviel to take full advantage of his current notoriety. "People always like a Robin Hood, a guy who steals from the rich." READ IT ALL

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