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.

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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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