Finance becomes a friend in France after volte face at the top

FINANCE is a friend to the French government, according to Michel Sapin, the country’s finance minister, who was speaking at an economics conference yesterday.

The comments play on a remark made two years ago, when the socialist party candidate, Francois Hollande, who is now President of France, said that his real opponent and adversary in politics was the world of finance.

French media reported yesterday that there was laughter in the room when Sapin made his speech, clarifying that “good finance” was a friend to the government. He added that there was some way to go on banking regulation.

Sapin is a second-time minister of finance, having held the post between 1992 and 1993, in a previous socialist government. He took over from Pierre Moscovici in April, and faced a tightrope exercise in meeting France’s deficit targets while meeting financial commitments.

Sapin added he was not worried about French banks being investigated by US authorities after a record fine was imposed on BNP Paribas for violating US sanctions against several countries.