Joie de vivre

There is a definite feeling of Joie de vivre here in Paris, a feeling of optimism, of excitement about the future. I sense this strongly, in spite of the recent terrorist attacks.

I sense it in the academy, and in the start-up community. People here clearly believe that Paris is a place where things are happening, where the future is being created.

I think two recent events have influenced this change of mood, although I don’t think people here would be so gauche as to openly agree with me. The first was Brexit, and the second was the recent American election.

For many years there has been a sort of economic rivalry between London and Paris. Now that enterprises in London will no longer have the powerful backing of the European Union, forces of innovation are gradually shifting more toward Paris. Public / private partnerships are a large engine of change here in Europe, and private enterprise in the U.K. has just lost the E.U. as a potential partner.

The other event, of course, was the outcome of the recent U.S. election. It’s hard to overstate the psychological role Barack Obama has played in Europe in recent years. He has been seen as a level headed economic partner, a thoughtful intellectual leader, a force for moderation and greater international cooperation. His considerable influence effectively tilted economic power in the West toward America.

But now, from the perspective of Europe, America has just considerably diminished itself. The incoming administration does not seem interested in forming a cohesive trade policy, or, from what anyone can tell, in engaging in international economic strategy or partnerships of any meaningful kind.

All of which means that the importance of Paris to the economy of the West is significantly larger than it was a year ago. This city is now one of the few places in the West where international forces can still meaningfully converge, and where the future is being created.

One thought on “Joie de vivre”

  1. The same feeling is in the air in Shanghai and Beijing. A sense of “our time has come,” and America leadership is on the wane.

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