France has a reputation for stifling bureaucracy and long vacations, but when it comes to stimulus spending, the country is racing ahead of the US. This summer, workers are completing massive renovation projects not just for roads and rails, but to museums and cathedrals, and royal palaces. According to the New York Times, France could emerge from recession as early as this quarter.
France's economy was mocked through the boom years for holding back growth, but in lean times the centralized system dispenses funds far more efficiently than the US. Many projects funded by the Obama administration's stimulus won't begin until next year, while France plans to spend 75% of its stimulus money in 2009. "America is six months behind," boasts the French minister overseeing the stimulus. "It has wasted a lot of time." (Read more France stories.)