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There was a sense, when I arrived in Paris a couple of weeks ago, that France was if not quite in meltdown then certainly enduring a profound existential crisis.

Unemployment had metastasized to 10.6 percent, and the country’s credit rating was in the dumps. President Francois Hollande’s maligned plans for a 75 percent “supertax” had sent some of the most famous French citizens scuttling to Belgium.

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