Yesterday I wrote about America’s surprising success in limiting the economic damage from Covid-19. Compared to expectations and compared to our handling of the 2008 financial crisis, we’ve done remarkably well. But other countries have also done well, in some cases and by some measures better. In fact, among major advanced economies, the star performer of the pandemic era, arguably, is … France.
France? For as long as I can remember, U.S. media coverage of the French economy has been relentlessly negative.
Back in 1997, The Times’s Roger Cohen described France as “America’s favorite European basket case” (although he had the good grace to make fun of his own premature pessimism 16 years later.) Indeed, in the ’90s we were told that France was too culturally stagnant to keep up with modern technology; another 1997 article was titled “Why the French Hate the Internet.” (France currently has higher broadband penetration than we