LES ECHOS
France's top business daily, Les Echos covers domestic and international economic, financial and markets news. Founded in 1908, the newspaper has been the property of French luxury good conglomerate LVMH (Moet Hennessy - Louis Vuitton) since 2007.
Photo of people walking in the street or sat at cafe tables in Erbil, Iraq
Geopolitics
Théophile Simon

The New Iraq, Signs Of Hope Amid The Rubble And Reconstruction

How do you rebuild a country decimated by four decades of war and embargoes? Following the withdrawal of the U.S. military, Iraq faces many challenges, from oil revenues captured by the militias and endemic corruption to religious segregation. However, there are glimmers of hope for the country's future.

BAGHDAD — With a vast office located at the top of a tower fiercely guarded by the army and a bell to call the staff, Khalid Hamza Abbas is obviously a powerful character, decked out in an impeccable suit. Abbas runs the Basra Oil Company (BOC), the national company responsible for the exploitation of the oil fields in the province of Basra, in the very south of Iraq, from which four million barrels of crude oil flow daily. It’s the equivalent of 4% of world demand and 65% of central government revenue concentrated in a region of only four million inhabitants.

As he explains the profit-sharing scheme between the world’s major oil companies and his public enterprise, the 50-year-old with thin glasses is suddenly stopped dead in his tracks by the ringing of his telephone. He tries a joke to mask his suddenly worried face: "I'm going to ask you to leave my office for a few moments. If I haven't called you back in 10 minutes, call the police."

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The Meaning Of Macron’s Special "Merde" Delivery For The Unvaccinated
Ideas
Rozena Crossman

The Meaning Of Macron’s Special "Merde" Delivery For The Unvaccinated

The French President used a rather vulgar verb to tell us how he feels about those who refuse to get the COVID vaccine. It’s a linguistic and political stink bomb with a message that has a history of its own.

In the rich and intricate French language, merde has a special place. The not-quite-profane word for "shit" is used across society, in a variety of circumstances with a range of meanings. You might blurt it out in anger or frustration, or offer consolation, or even wish someone "merde" as good luck.

Beginning in the 15th century the prefix em, meaning "bring into," and the suffix er, which creates a verb, were added to expand merde into a most unhygienic term: literally translated as "to cover in excrement." Today, emmerder is a crude and handy slang used to mean "to bore," "to annoy," "to bother."

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Parental Burnout Is Real — And Taking Leave Is Not An Option
Society
Jessica Berthereau

Parental Burnout Is Real — And Taking Leave Is Not An Option

Burnout doesn't just occur in the workplace. Pressured by unrealistic perfectionism and a cult of performance, parents are also increasingly affected by a similar weight at home that becomes too much to bear. Here's how to recognize the symptoms and act before before it's too late.

PARIS — “My story is long," Esther says in a soft voice, as if to apologize in advance. But every detail counts as she speaks: the difficult delivery, which ended in a large hemorrhage; the complicated beginnings of her breastfeeding; a baby who cried continuously; chaotic nights…

"One day, when she was about a year-and-a-half old, things calmed down a bit and, most importantly, we let go. I think I was already in burnout, but nobody was aware of it. I wanted to succeed so much; I wanted it to last so much," recalls the dance teacher, whose job forces her to practice at night. "And then we decided to have a second one. We said to ourselves that each child is different... And then again, it was a baby who cried all the time. Except that this time, I also had the first one to deal with all day because she wasn't going to school yet."

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2022: Year Of The Wake-Up Call
Ideas
Jacques Attali

2022: Year Of The Wake-Up Call

The signs for 2022 may appear grim right now, but at least we know what we're facing. Will we make the right decisions?

-Analysis-

PARIS — Since it's customary to do so at this time of year, let's try to make predictions for the next twelve months. On paper, 2022 should be a very difficult year. But by knowing that and anticipating it, we can prevent it from being so.

It is quite easy to forecast a worst-case scenario: a pandemic that evades vaccines, a collapse of financial markets, hotbeds of conflicts on the borders of Europe, large countries like Ethiopia falling apart.

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Blockchain Uncorked, Champagne And Fine Wine Hit The NFT Market
Economy
Béatrice Brasseur

Blockchain Uncorked, Champagne And Fine Wine Hit The NFT Market

In just a few months, NFTs, the digital equivalent of collectables, have generated over $10 billion. Now, luxury champagne and wine brands are moving into the world of digital assets. But as investors and vineyards toast to the future, will the concept pop or fizzle?

PARIS — What's new in champagne? Tokenized bubbles!

In October, Dom Pérignon demonstrated it perpetual creative effervescence by launching limited edition boxes of its 2010 vintage and its 2006 rosé, which were "designed" in collaboration with the megastar Lady Gaga (available only on the French market). The 100 bottles — a few drops in the ocean of bubbles produced by Dom Pérignon — and their digital versions were offered for sale in a 100% virtual space. In search of new fans and eager to "create rarity within rarity," the champagne brand has thus become the very first in its sector to take the plunge into NFTs, the digital answer to collectibles.

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Anti-riot officers standing next to demonstrators holding the Tunisian flag in front of the Parliament in Tunis
Geopolitics
Laura-Mai Gaveriaux

Tunisia's Drift From Democratic Revolution To Authoritarianism

The Tunisian president is cultivating his ambiguities and pushing his constitutional reform, without proposing a roadmap to get the country out of the crisis. Refusing to speak to the media, he has an increasingly populist tone with messianic accents.

-Analysis-

TUNIS — President Kaïs Saïed likes to surprise. Everyone expected an event on December 17 to mark the 11th anniversary of the founding event of the revolution, the immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi. It was finally in a speech on television on the evening of December 13 that Saïed announced that parliament would remain for a year until the next general elections, using a new electoral law — which amounts to a de-facto dissolution of the parliament. Only one thing is certain: he retains the full powers he assumed on July 25.

Until then, Tunisians are invited to vote on a constitutional reform project, an "electronic popular consultation" that will be held from January to March and will be sanctioned by a referendum in July 2022. Because according to the tenant of Carthage, the current semi-presidential regime based on the 2014 constitution is the source of all the ills from which Tunisia suffers.

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Photo of hands carrying a crystal ball in front of an escalator
Work In Progress
Rozena Crossman

Work → In Progress: The Working World In 2022

Will the Great Resignation of the past year lead to a Great Reskilling the next...?

Like the year before, 2021 was filled with Zoom meetings, travel bans, shaky economics and supply chain disruptions. At the same time, it was a singular year, defined by strikes, international labor shortages and vaccine mandates in many workplaces. As Q4 comes to an end, things are ramping up, and the work challenges of 2022 are becoming very clear.

All over the world, unemployment is high — and so is the lack of available labor. What will see a bigger increase, inflation or salary bumps? Will the Great Resignation lead to a Great Reskilling? What we do know is that white-collar workers are shifting from overtime to flexible schedules, from cogs in the wheel to drivers in the front seat, from struggling independent contractors to employees with full benefits.

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Discarded Christmas trees in north London
Green
Gaspard Koenig

Grinch Or Green? It’s Time To Stop Buying Christmas Trees!

Each year, millions of trees are sacrificed for the sake of Christmas — an ecological disaster and a denial of what trees represent for humanity. There are, however, some green alternatives to buying (and killing) your own private tree each year.

-OpEd-

PARIS — In the street, on the sidewalks, the corpses pile up in the cold, stacked one above the other — victims of mutilation. Passers-by glance at them carelessly, sometimes fiddling with their broken limbs. The executioners stand guard around their victims, kicking them back into a pile.

The execution is recent: the bodies still wear their natural colors. But soon the last drops of life will recede. They will start to turn pale and decompose, leaving scorched flakes around them. A foul odor will take hold of the city.

This vision of horror is the Christmas spectacle, with its six million trees in France alone that are cut, sold, decorated for a few days and then discarded. In order to grasp the full extent of this massacre, we must first admit that trees are not simple pieces of wood, but individuals in their own right, who are leading unique lives.

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De-Uberization? Food Delivery Apps Opt For Employees Over Gig Economy
Economy
Adrien Lelièvre

De-Uberization? Food Delivery Apps Opt For Employees Over Gig Economy

Startups that offer to deliver groceries in less than 15 minutes have learned from the past and are hiring full-time employees, even if they need temporary workers to meet demand.

PARIS — In recent years, couriers working for meal delivery startups generously financed by investment funds have become one of the symbols of the "uberization of work." While mostly their freelance status remains widespread worldwide, the standard is shifting. In February 2021, the British meal delivery specialist Just Eat struck a chord by announcing the recruitment of 4,500 permanent staff in France, a country known for its strong worker protections and powerful unions.

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Head office skyscraper of the French multinational Saint Gobain
Economy
Jean-Marc Vittori

COVID Economics: Signs That Switch To Remote Work May Not Stick

We’re nearly two years into a global pandemic that has seemingly changed everything in our economy from how we shop to where we eat. COVID-19 indeed may transform our economic lives entirely – except how we work.

PARIS — We’re not done with this story yet.

In France, the number of new COVID-19 patients has jumped by 50% in a week, hospitals are once again under increasing pressure, and the government still needs its special council that is responsible for crisis public health decisions. Around the world, the new Omicron variant, first detected a month ago, could prove to be more contagious, though, it is not yet known whether the variant is more dangerous or resistant to the vaccines that billions of people have received.

We've now been living with this unprecedented pandemic for almost two years. It can no longer be said to be a footnote or a strange blip in time, as we might have believed during the first lockdowns of spring 2020. The more time passes, the more COVID-19 is profoundly changing our lives.

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Google Street View screenshot of Cerdon, in eastern France
WHAT THE WORLD
Rozena Crossman

Fed-Up French Mayor Bans Snow From Falling

Icy roads, electricity outages, whiny city folk … There's only one solution to ending winter chaos.

No one’s dreaming of a white Christmas in the town of Cerdon, in eastern France. Marc Chavent, mayor of this municipality tucked into the Jura mountains, apparently has a very different dream: So frustrated by the difficulties his community faced due to snowfall that earlier this week, the mayor banned the chilly precipitation altogether.

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