Sometimes it can take the clear-sightedness of the outsider to fully articulate a situation. Whether François Hollande's socialist government shares such a view – following Maurice Taylor's blunt assessment of France's competitiveness – is open to question, however.
The boss of the Titan tyre giant – headquartered in Illinois – poured scorn on the French Industry Minister's invitation to take over a loss-making Goodyear factory in Amiens. "How stupid do you think we are?" he wrote in reply. "The French workforce gets paid high wages but works only three hours." A Chinese factory, with wages of €1 an hour? Maybe. A pricey French plant? Absolutely not.
Strong stuff; particularly for France, a country so keenly supportive of the Working Time Directive. Then again, one must sometimes be cruel to be kind. The only question now is, is Mr Hollande listening?