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The finance community in Paris is complaining that the 'gilets jaunes' issue is being exaggerated.

Parisian bankers and recruiters complain of "French-bashing" over gilets jaunes

Will the 'gilets jaunes' (rioters in yellow high-vis jackets) dissuade banks from moving staff from London to Paris? A London trader writing here last week argued that they will. London finance professionals were "horrified" by the riots, he said: "Brexit has shaken the stability of London, but Paris has made itself seem worse by appearing to be a war zone." They might also be horrified by President Macron's capitulation to the rioters, which seems likely to result in higher taxes in the long term - although anecdotally higher wealth taxes are the biggest concern.

For the moment, however, French bankers say nothing is likely to change and that the situation in France is being exaggerated in London.

"A good number of banks have already made preparations in the wake of the Brexit referendum and it's bit late for them to reverse their plans. These are not the kinds of events that will change our mind on decisions that will effect us for the next 15 years," a spokesman for one large U.S. bank told French publication BFM Business.

One finance recruiter said the coverage of the gilets jaunes and the Parisian riots is symptomatic of "French bashing" by the Anglo Saxon press: "There are elements that want to dissuade finance professionals in London from coming to Paris, but that hasn't happened yet."

A French banking analyst points out that Germany is also afflicted by "a certain political instability" now and that some banks chose Paris over Frankfurt for that reason. "This was before the gilets jaunes crisis," he notes, cautiously.

With Britain still in Brexit chaos, few banks are going to make any immediate changes to their plans for relocating to France. "The gilets jaunes haven't had a significant impact on the strategic intentions of foreign banks in Paris," says Oliver Coustaing at headhunter Alexander Hughes in Paris. All things being equal, places like Banks of America will still be moving London staff to Paris in the New Year.

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AUTHORThierry Iochem France Editor

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