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France

French press review 8 November 2017

media

On this day 12 months ago, Americans elected Donald John Trump as president of the United States. What has happened since? Pop singer Shakira and mining company Glencore have their financial underwear exposed to public view in the latest Paradise Papers revelations. And French businesses are buoyant.

Le Figaro's electronic edition gives the top-of-the-page honours to US president, Donald Trump, elected exactly 12 months ago, with the headline "Lots of noise, little action".

The conservative paper says the American leader is atypical and that his political stance remains enigmatic. They are being polite.

Refusing to judge the man on just nine months in power, Le Figaro notes Trump's extraordinary visibility thanks to his endless exposure in the media and on Twitter. The right-wing paper thinks he is more complex than he appears, praising his ability to act on several fronts simultaneously.

Complex or otherwise, Le Figaro still finds him "astonishing".

The paper remembers Trump's trouble settling into the White House, saying he claimed that he "hated everybody in the dump" and needed to redecorate with gilded chairs, curtains and carpets to turn the presidential residence into a worthy home.

He has had trouble with the help, too, sacking at least six of his top advisors, criticising the justice minister on Twitter, undermining the diplomatic efforts of his sectretary of state.

A Washington Post journalist says he doesn't seem to like the job and compensates by making those who work with him suffer worse than he does.

He has a need for statistical verification of his own success and does not hesitate to invent positive results when reality tells him something he does not want to know.

Trump himself is convinced that things are going wonderfully.

"I love this job," he says. "We're getting a huge number of things done, the figures are excellent."

In fact, his current figures are historically low, with just 38 percent of Americans thinking their president is doing a good job. And he still has 40 months to go.

Shakira and Glencore get the Paradise treatment

And the Paradise Papers saga continues to occupy the front page of Le Monde.

Among the latest revelations, African mining giant Glencore, active in South Africa and the DRC, has no fewer than 107 offshore companies listed with Appleby, the legal firm at the centre of the latest revelations.

Glencore, with a turnover last year of 200 billion euros, is one of Appleby's clients, using its network of companies to transfer funds, probably, says Le Monde, "to avoid paying taxes and to be able to buy mining rights with a total lack of transparency".

Not that Glencore are alone. Le Monde notes that 40 percent of the profits of the big multinational are routinely transfered to tax havens. By comparison, only eight percent of the money held by rich individuals is similarly squirreled away.

All of which adds up to a loss of 350 billion euros each year in government revenue. The shortfall for France alone is reckoned to be about 20 billion euros.

Speaking of rich individuals, the Colombian pop singer Shakira officially lives in the Bahamas for tax purposes, but she keeps most of her money in Malta, also for tax purposes. She is the sole shareholder of a Maltese holding company called Sunflower Limited, the business of which seems to be the protection of Shakira's royalties, to the tune of 32 million euros, from tax.

That'll do nicely, thank you

Financial daily La Tribune looks at the latest official report on the state of French businesses.

Globally, things are getting better. But most of the statistics date from 2015, meaning that the report is already two years out of date.

If you omit the agricultural sector, France's four million businesses had a total turnover of 3,800 billion euros in 2015, making a nominal profit of 1,100 billion euros.

Fewer of them are going broke, with just 57,000 company bankruptcies declared this year, the same number as in 2009. And the fallers are more than compensated for by the newcomers, with 554,000 new French businesses seeing the light of day in the course of 2016.

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