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A Snapshot of Italy's Mess

PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 9:06 am
by DavidM
For those who are interested, yesterday there was a chilling contrast of opinions about Italy and it's problems, in and around the G20 meeting in Cannes.

The head of the IMF, Christine La Garde, speaking at a news conference said that Italy's chief problem is a lack of credibility in the government. On the same day in his press conference the Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, was insisting that that in Italy people aren't feeling the crisis. After all, he said, the restaurants are full, and you have to book early to get a flight for a long weekend away. The situation is under control. Unbelievable ! Berlusconi's capacity for denying reality and avoiding responsibility is just staggering, it's practically pathological.

If you want a good succint explanation of the Euro Crisis there's this article from the BBC from yesterday;
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15592197

Re: A Snapshot of Italy's Mess

PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 9:59 am
by NormanD
One thing that has started to stand out is the fact that - for the most part - G20 leaders have stopped denying the existence of a 'problem', with Berlusconi being an obvious exception to this. Many commentators are now talking of his departure - when not if. He'll get leaned on heavily by the G20's financial bankers to sling his hook, and I imagine he'll have to put the profits of his own companies (or his major shareholders will) above his own bloated egoistical needs to stay in power.

Berlusconi, along with Papandreou, will possibly soon be on their respective ways - leaving behind the populations to struggle in the mess they've caused.

This is a good summary. One thing that stands out:
"But despite all the noise, Greece is only a sideshow.

Greece is a small country. And if it stopped repaying its debts and/or left the euro, re-denominating its debts into devalued drachmas, the losses to its bond investors would be manageable.

The danger posed by Greece is rather the power to demonstrate.

Re: A Snapshot of Italy's Mess

PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:37 am
by NormanD
I'm surprised Berlusconi hasn't gone yet. Maybe he's working out, as part of his retirement package, some unbreakable clauses that exclude him from future prosecution for his various financial and sexual abuses. But he'll surely have to be on his way, as soon as possible, for the sake of the international market profiteers, er, the sake of the nation.

Being forced to borrow at nearly 7% interest is institutional usury. The 'markets' - ie the financial speculators - effectively create a crisis by moving their money out of a country's bonds (as with Greece, recently, and now Italy), and then only offer to lend at exorbitant rates of interest. And the G20 only offer bail out based on heavy austerity programmes that hit the 99% at the expense of the 1% - which will, of course, still continue to eat in the finest restaurants and fly first class.

What's the experience where you are, David?

Re: A Snapshot of Italy's Mess

PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:44 am
by DavidM
You need a special kind of inflated ego and distorted world view to hang on to power as tenaciously as Berlusconi. He couldn't, after yesterday's vote, keep saying that he was the only man able to deal with the situation, as he did say just a few days earlier in Cannes. It's tragic that the country has had to be dragged to the brink of financial meltdown before he would admit defeat. But that's the sad truth about him and his party; it's been vehicle for his own business interests and those of his cronies, many of whom are also in parliament.

And, it's not over yet; all the rise in bond rates is doing is swelling the amount of debt that all italians will have to pay for. The hard work is still to come. Up until now the government's solution to the crisis has been to pile more taxes on everyone, except of course for those who are rich enough to hide their wealth elsewhere. I was just listening to a radio commentator this morning, a free-market Friedmanite type, who was venting his fury at Berlusconi and his party because after all these years in power they had achieved the opposite of what they should have - a sclerotic economy and a mountain of debt.

The term that is used most often now to discuss politics here is The Caste. Italy's politicians, the best-paid in europe, are so self-serving and myopic that even the international bond markets, not known for their interest in human welfare, can see that they're running the country into the ground. Berlusconi is the biggest and brashest of them all, but it's an attitude, a culture, that goes way back before him.

Dio Buono .....

Re: A Snapshot of Italy's Mess

PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:06 am
by David Flower
Amongst the many things he monopolised, for years Berlusconi has been the sole topic of news from Italy in the press abroad. Hopefully now we might get to hear more about what else is happening in this great country. At least when the current Eur-owing crisis has passed on ( have i coined one here?)

Re: A Snapshot of Italy's Mess

PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:25 am
by Philellinas
NormanD wrote:Berlusconi, along with Papandreou, will possibly soon be on their respective ways - leaving behind the populations to struggle in the mess they've caused.

I can't speak for Berlusconi as he is unspeakable, Norman, but I feel sympathy for George Papandreou. Arguably Greece never met the criteria for joining the euro but thanks to some judicious cooking of the books (involving Goldman Sachs?) Greece was allowed into the club. When Papandreou was elected he was presented with a poisoned chalice. Whoever succeeds him will have an equally thankless task and whoever wins the planned, pointless general election early next year will face the same difficulties. Austerity, frugality and
instability will be the order of the day for the foreseeable future. Just call me Cassandra.

Re: A Snapshot of Italy's Mess

PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:44 pm
by DavidM
A week really has been a long time in politics; Berlusconi has just resigned, and there's dancing in the streets in Rome. All this since last Saturday when this thread began.