Happy Birthday Italy!

The ‘Festa della Repubblica’ is the Italian national holiday celebrated on the second day of June. It commemorates the referendum of 1946 when, by universal suffrage, the Italian population was called to decide on which form of government (monarchy or republic) should replace Fascism after the Second World War.

After 85 years of monarchy, and with 12,717,923 votes for and 10,719,284 votes against, Italy became a Republic, and the monarchs of the House of Savoy were deposed and exiled. This is one of the most important Italian national holidays which, like July 14th in France (Storming of the Bastille) and July 4th in the USA (Independence Day), celebrate the birth of the nation.

Picture is of the Italian Frecce Tricolori doing their impressive stuff.  More background on the Festa here.

Tanti auguri!

Is Italy a basket case?

Irreversible demise.  Deflation.  High unemployment.  Stagnation.  Huge sovereign debt.  High taxes.  A bloated, parasitical and corrupt state sector.  Zero growth.  The sick man of Europe.

These are the very serious problems confronting Italy as seen in this hard hitting article in the London Spectator titled ‘Italy’s in terminal decline, and no one has the guts to stop it‘.  Recently, the FT reported that, on 5 December, ‘Standard & Poor’s cut Italy’s credit rating to BBB- or one level above junk, citing a growing debt pile, low growth and lack of competitiveness. The rating agency predicted growth of 0.2 per cent in 2015, a weak exit from its third recession in six years’.  Italy now ranks below Turkey, Kuwait and South Africa in the internationally accepted ranking of public sector corruption.  It is hard to call the current situation a crisis, notes the historian John Foot, because crises have an end – Italy just keeps declining. Continue reading

Italy’s lost generation

This Daily Beast article is grim reading. Italy’s youth unemployment rate has hit the level of almost 50%. In the south, it is almost 60%. The longest Italian post-war recession continues to bite.

In the same week, it was announced that, in the first quarter of 2014, Italy returned to negative growth and lost more than 12,000 commerce and service firms. This comes on top of almost a decade of zero growth.

Italy remains a rich country by any measure. But with high youth unemployment, Government debt, zero growth, rampant bureaucracy and lethargic politicans, Italy has been called the modern sick man of Europe as shown in the chart above.  It has been estimated that it will take 11 years to recover back to the levels of 2007 before the financial

Matteo Renzi really does have a mountain to climb.

Is Naples the sick man of Italy ?

‘Naples was to be the Italian Barcelona instead it is our Caracas’. Hard hitting stuff from a pair of Italian journalists who are tired of maladministration in Naples.  The English version is here.

Italian Insight

The Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore published today a disturbing article by Francesco Benucci and Mariano Maugeri on the decline of the former capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It tells a story of bad government, especially by the Municipality, and of its consequences even on the Italian international relations, with Catalonia angered for the bad management of the leased trademark Universal Forum of Cultures.

Another article by Fabrizio Forquet, among other things, points out that the city seaport doesn’t have a President or decent railway links, and that whole districts are under the control of the local organized crime, which in the last years has been looking even worse than the Sicilian one.

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No Paradise for the Workers

Happy Festa del Lavoro! The picture is ‘Il Quarto Stato – The Fourth Estate (1901)’ by Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo.  It’s in the Museo del Novecento, Milan.

Originally titled “The Path of Workers”, this painting is ‘an icon of the twentieth century, depicting workers (members of the fourth estate) on strike marching towards the light, and painted in the “chromoluminarist” or divisionist style‘. The composition of the painting is balanced in ‘its shapes and vibrant in its light, giving the perfect idea of a mass movement, with equal space given to a woman with a baby in her arms marching with her co-workers’.

113 years later, the employment of Italian workers, or rather the lack of it, remains a political hot potato in Italy.

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