The French On Kerveil: He's From Brittany Not 'France'

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The French do not exactly have their croissants in a twist over the alleged misdeeds of Jerome Kerviel, the Societe Generale trader who is blamed for enormous losses at the banks. While jokes about France—including the idea that Kerviel felt pressured into making his 'rogue' trades by an exhausting 30 hour work week—have been making their way around the globe for weeks, traders and bankers in Paris do not see Kerviel as one of theirs. Subsequently, they don't see the scandal as a black mark on their markets and institutions.
He went to the wrong schools, worked in the wrong part of the bank and, most importantly, he was from the wrong part of France.
"Everyone whose name begins with 'Ker' is from Brittany," said a banker familiar with France. "And Brittany is different."
What might look like bigotry to foreigners comes naturally to many in France and is serving as a psychological firewall against the spreading scandal. Authorities recently picked up Moussa Bakir, a broker at Newedge, which is owned by SocGen and another French bank, Calyon. But his name also has many in Paris holding up cigarette accented scare quotes with their fingers when they describe him as "French."

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