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In response to the economic crisis now spilling over into the European markets, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for an end to laissez-faire and an increase of government control over the financial markets.

“Laissez-faire is finished, the all-powerful market that is always right, that’s finished,” Sarkozy said in a widely anticipated speech, his first in France on the economic crisis. As a result, it is “necessary to rebuild the entire global financial and monetary system from the bottom up, the way it was done at Bretton Woods after World War II,” Sarkozy said.

President Sarkozy should brush up on his French. Laissez-faire (strictly, laissez-nous faire) means “let us do” or “leave us be”. The phrase refers to a separation between state and economics. No Federal Reserve or global system of central banking, no quasi-governmental agencies backing mortgages, no securities and exchange legislation, etc. The United States has not had anything approaching a laissez-faire economy for over a century. It is absurd to blame the economic crisis on the “free market”, because no such market exists.

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