World Business: A Test of Sobriety

Like a reformed drunk, France has been smugly satisfied of late with its fiscal sobriety. The French have been amassing reserves, making early repayments on their debts to the U.S., and self-righteously lecturing the U.S. about putting its balance-of-payments in order.

Now, however, General de Gaulle's franc is looking a trifle weak on the world's markets. A hint of softness appeared in the last week of August, when the franc slipped from its normal 4.90 to the dollar to 4.91. Then it went down to a rate of 4.944 two weeks ago, and last week it drifted indecisively before closing at 4.9375.

The...

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