As a judge at the European commission, Joly did not deal in antitrust cartels, which makes his attempts at the US department of justice to break up mega-companies not much of a first. Bigger is better these days, but that might change now that the upstart Joly has been handed the final say over American capitalism.
“American capitalism is broken,” Joly told reporters, in an effort to sound new in a country which normally thinks small: “I don’t even know how you could describe what it is any other way.”
As a believer in the wonders of the free market, the Belgian knows the free market well. As a key member of the predecessor of the EU commission, he used to head a commission that dealt with little that could have been regarded as a capitalist nuisance: steel, cement, motors and tractors.
To the Spanish bank Popular, he turned them into a bailout worth a cool €8.8bn. The bank was effectively nationalised this week, with orders to go home and restructure. In January, the state seized Metro Bank, putting the small debt-collecting firm that tried to upend British banking into a public entity.
These are the same folk who – among others – were overjoyed to have got free Wi-Fi on London Underground so travellers could kill some time while they wait for the rest of the train to show up.
Joly certainly has a record of standing up to big business and breaking things up where they get out of hand. He should make a convincing candidate in Washington for his party’s presidential nomination.