How has the Euro affected the French and British financial sectors?

Introduced as the main currency in many European countries in 2002, the Euro has had a profound effect on financial sectors around the world. Britain is arguably the most powerful non-eurozone member yet the eurozone crisis has had continual effects in Britain. As the Euro is weaker than the GB Pound, does this disadvantage Britain as Europe is more likely to buy eurozone products rather than British ones? Britain retains control over its interest rates, meaning they have more control over their encouragement and influence on growth. Whereas, for France, monetary decisions are taken on a European level. Yet in 2011, France’s GDP growth rate exceeded Britain’s, 1.7% compared to 1.1%, does this suggest that the single currency is having a more positive impact on growth or is it due to other factors such as Britain’s Conservative Party’s cuts policy?

Panel Expert: Jacques DelplaLorenzo Naranjo

Is tax harmonisation necessary for financial free markets?

With the creation of the Euro in 1998 and its subsequent circulation in 2002, the question of tax harmonization became a much debated issue within the European Union. If Europe was to run as a single economy, then governments would have to agree certain minimal levels of tax to ensure a level playing field, and similar economic conditions, in all EU countries.

So what does this mean in terms of financial free markets? A smoother and easier trade link between countries. It enables entities to trade at lower transaction costs and at prices that reflect supply and demand. Could this be what saves the European Union from financial collapse? Free movements of labour and open markets have after all been the driving force behind the European Union ever since it was first created.

More or less financial regulation in Europe?

Before considering this question it is first important to determine exactly what financial regulation already exists in Europe. The most noteworthy example of recent regulation was the adoption of the Basel 11 recommendations introduced in 2005. In essence this forced European Banks and the European Central Bank to rely more than ever on the standardized assessments of credit risk marketed by two private agencies, thus using public policy and tax-payers money to strengthen an anti-competitive duopolistic industry.

According to a recent article in the Economist, the Americans and their Dodd-Market Act is perhaps a more successful and appropriate method of regulation given our current economic climate. The European system is fragmented, perhaps given our set-up, but this has created a rather more piecemeal system of regulation which in turn is far less coherent.

The European Union can be merited on its methodical approach to regulation but as quoted in the Economist, the EU may have “lots of rules, but not always good ones.”

Panel Expert: Yannick Naud,  Arnaud Grünthaler


Financing of infrastructure, do France and Britain have a particular role to play in international development?

International Development Association offers loans and grants to poorest countries. France provides 22% of the funding whereas Britain only 8%. Considering the relative wealth similarities between the two countries, could Britain be contributing more? Or, with Britain focusing on financing their own infrastructure (in July 2012 the British government announced further spending on infrastructure) are they deciding to let other countries take the lead in international development?

Panel Experts: Laurent Bonnaud, Marc Tabouis

Can French and British universities play a role in encouraging the development of alternative financial services ?

The success of the Grameen Bank created by Muhammad Yunus has fomented a booming interest in microcredit and alternative finance in general in developing countries as well as in the developed ones. Because of the actual crisis, some argue that tomorrow’s finance system will lean much more on a willingness to serve causes with a social impact in the community’s interest. Indeed crowdfunding websites aiming at bringing support for projects (kisskiss banks banks) or facilitating loans between private individuals (friendsclear) are flourishing. The question we wish to explore is whether universities and university students have joined this trend. To what extent have universities been part of this trend? Have they already adapted their programs and activities ? Will they? Universities’ interest for alternative finances : a short-lived buzz or a true involvement?

Happiness indices vs. financial indices, views from France and Britain.

Is GDP the real indicator of a nation’s wealth or is it the GNH that was proposed by the Royal Kingdom of Bhutan? The introduction of social economics into the facts and figures seen to determine a country’s success is, however, not a new approach. The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) has long recognized the importance of social data in economic reporting, and launched its ‘Better Life Index‘ in May, 2011. The report compares various factors of well-being in 36 countries across the world, providing satisfaction reports on 11 “essential” areas, which include housing, income, health, and work-life balance. The Better Life Index, along with the support for plans such as David Cameron’s happiness index in Britain, aims to provide real data that can be used in conjunction with financial information. France performs very well in many measures of well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top ten countries in several topics in the Better Life Index.

Panel Experts: Sridhar Arcot , Mikå Mered

Students will be encouraged to engage in Franco-British comparisons on these topics.