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Le "pied de nez" de M. Valls

Two French Nobel prize winners in 2014 « thumb their nose at French bashing »

By Marie Decreme

Patrick Modiano for Literature, Jean Tirole for Economics... Two Nobel Prizes in 2014, not bad for a country that is "finished" ! The Prime Minister Manuel Valls told the press: a “pied-de-nez au French bashing” (a way to thumb one’s nose at French bashing).

Jean Tirole

On 9 October, Patrick Modiano was awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature by the Swedish Academy, “for the art of memory with which he evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life under the occupation”. At the age of 69, the author became the fifteenth Frenchman to receive the distinction, France confirms its place as World champion of Literature.

On 13 October, four days later, the Nobel Prize for Economics went to Jean Tirole, a 61-year-old alumnus of the École Polytechnique. The jury rewarded “his analysis of market power and regulation”. “I was speechless when I picked up the phone”, he declared. The third Frenchman to be crowned in this discipline, after Gérard Debreu in 1983 and Maurice Allais in 1988, Jean Tirole was presented by the Committee as one of the most influential economists of our time. Cock-a-doodle-doo for this French touch in economics! Today, a third of the young “économistes d’avenir” are French according to a ranking produced by the International Monetary Fund. Among them, Esther Duflo (42), Emmanuel Saez (41) or Thomas Piketty (43) were recognised in this Top 25 for their work: la relève est assurée.


The two Nobel Prizes have been welcomed as a piece of blue in a stormy sky: the whole political class praised these awards. “French excellence is finally recognised”, commented Laurent Fabius, Foreign Affairs Minister. A great lesson to French bashing!


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