A novel tactic

Remember the yellow vest protests in France? They haven’t stopped. Indeed, as one journalist reports, “Saturday insurrections are now institutionalised in Paris, and also across the country, as far as Marseille and Toulon.”

Some 80,000 law and order agents, including 5,000 in the capital, will be mobilised this weekend, along with armoured cars, water cannons and apparently unlimited supplies of chemical weapons. Luc Ferry, a former conservative education minister, has already suggested that live ammunition should be used to quell growing attacks on police.

And now it looks like some of the protesters are preparing to level up the disruption:

Activists from a French protest movement encouraged supporters Wednesday to set off a bank run by emptying their accounts, while the government urged citizens to express their discontent in a national debate instead of weekly demonstrations disrupting the streets of Paris.

Activists from the yellow vest movement, which started with protests over fuel tax increases, recommended the massive cash withdrawals on social media. One protester, Maxime Nicolle called it the “tax collector’s referendum.”

“We are going to get our bread back … You’re making money with our dough, and we’re fed up,” Nicolle said in a video message.

The movement’s adherents said they hoped the banking action will force the French government to heed their demands, especially giving citizens the right to propose and vote on new laws.

In the meantime, copycat yellow vest protests have been spotted in Belgium and the NetherlandsBritainCanada, and even Bulgaria, Israel, Iraq and Taiwan. The Egyptian government banned the sale of yellow vests in December.

3 thoughts on “A novel tactic

  1. There is a little something inside me that is quietly egging on the protesters in France, but a ‘run’ on the banks might not be the best thing to do.

    I always assumed that everyone knew that there wasn’t enough money for everyone to withdraw at once, but it is pretty scary how little people know about how money is created and what the term fraction reserve banking means.

    • Interestingly, a former Manchester United footballer floated the same idea during a series of pension reform strikes in France back in 2010: https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-11811238

      Presumably, it would cause a lot of inconvenience as some bank branches would physically run out of cash and would have to ration or suspend payments. I don’t think this would qualify as a conventional run on the banks, though, as it would be driven by protest, rather than lack of confidence in the banks themselves, and so I imagine its effects would be less disastrous.

      In any case, many of the protesters clearly feel that their concerns are not being addressed even though the French government has thrown some concessions their way. What should be done about it is up to the French… I could hardly comment!

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