Despite a fifth straight year of being assessed by International Living magazine as offering the globe's best quality of life (top 10 here, all 194 here) it is nice to know that France can still find fault with herself. Or can she? From Le Monde (link):

"Are French banks moderate in bonus matters? According to our calculations, Paris-based traders of French banks, as well as those employed by the French subsidiaries of foreign banks, are set, this March, to enjoy bonus payouts of between €900m et €1bn. It is the equivalent of what 62,000 minimum-wage earners make in a year. [...]

These estimates are based on the statements made by Finance Minister, Christine Lagarde, in Le Figaro on Tuesday, January 12, which valued the take from the bonus tax on 2010 payouts from 2009 performances at around €360m. This 50% tax applies to bonuses over €27,500 - a sum representing nearly 80% of all bonuses paid in France..."

But breath easy, citoyens, although this implies average bonuses of over €250,000. All is relative:

"In this context, and while the severe effects of the financial crisis continue to be felt in the real economy, can we talk of moderation? In their defense, the French banks stress that they compete globally in a market largely dominated by American and British banks. Moreover, in bonus matters, these two continue to lead all others. Last year saw the poaching in London of two star performers from Merrill Lynch, Antonio Polverino and Bruce Van Saun, by the Royal Bank of Scotland. Both men will pocket over 10 million pounds (€11.3 million euros) in bonus guarantees!"

Separately Le Monde also report that high-end Paris property has got its groove back. Little, it appears, to do with the 3,500 registered traders/operators covered in the first article but again, it seems, the work/fault of foreigners. Impoverished, laissez-faire Anglo-Saxons apart.

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