Another of Mrs Thatcher's reforms liberalised credit and started a thirty-year house price inflation, which has left us in a situation where someone on average earnings often can't afford to buy a house at all. Younger readers (are there any ?) may find this hard to believe, but before Mrs T, to get a mortgage from any financial institution you had to have been saving with them for several years, you needed at least 10% of the value, and the mortgage was restricted to, at the very most, three and a half times earnings. One person's earnings. The process was, fiscally and morally, conservative.
If this is true, the crash has intervened to save Sarkozy from producing his very own French version of the sub-prime mortgage debacle.
Sarkozy, 2007 :
"French households today have fewer debts than any other nation of Europe. Now, an economy that does not have sufficient debts is an economy that does not believe in the future, that has doubts about its abilities, that is afraid of tomorrow. For this reason I hope to develop mortgage credits for families and to ensure that the State intervenes to guarantee access to credit for sick people. I propose that those whose salaries are modest be permitted to guarantee their loan through the value of their home.
We must reform mortgage credits. If mortgages were easier to obtain, banks would focus less on the ability of the person to pay back his loan and more on the value of the property mortgaged. This would benefit directly all those whose revenues fluctuate, such as temporary employees and a great number of independent workers."
As Anne Kling, the source for this story, puts it :
"Voilà l’exacte description du processus qui a conduit nos chers amis américains au fond du gouffre financier" - which I loosely translate as "that's exactly how the Septics ended up in the merde".
I wonder what other toxic ideas are whirling round the Sarkozy cranium ? Can't he just stick to, in the immortal words of Jackie Ashley, trotting beside his delightful wife "with the dazed-codfish expression of a man who's just swallowed a suitcase of happy pills" ?