The 14 Words

Friday, 20 December 2013

Italy’s president fears violent insurrection in 2014

Hundreds of students wrap themselves in an Italian tricolour 
during a Pitchforks Movement protest in Turin on Wednesday.

Events in Italy are turning serious. President Giorgio Napolitano has warned of “widespread social tension and unrest” in 2014 as the Long Slump drags on.

Those living on the margins are being drawn into “indiscriminate and violent protest, a sterile lurch towards total opposition”.

His latest speech is a veritable Jeremiad. Thousands of companies are on the “brink of collapse”. Great masses of the working people are on the dole or at risk of losing their jobs. Very high rates of youth unemployment (41pc) are leading to dangerous alienation.
“The recession is still biting hard, and there is a pervasive sense that it will be difficult to escape, to find a way back to full growth,” he said.
Now why might that be? Might it not have something to do with the central overriding fact that Italy has a currency overvalued by 20pc or more within EMU: that it is trapped in a 1930s fixed-exchange system run a 1930s central bank that is standing idly by (for political reasons) as M3 growth stalls, credit contracts, and deflation looms?

Mr Napolitano offers no answer. A former Stalinist who applauded the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 (a youthful indiscretion), he has long since switched his ideological fervour to the EU project. He is by nature incapable of questioning the premises of monetary union, so don’t expect any useful insights from the Quirinale on how to break out of this impasse.

He does concede that the eurozone crisis “has put a severe strain on social cohesion” but leaves the matter hanging, his argument unfinished, more descriptive than analytical.

Without going as far as to warn that the Italian state itself is at risk, he said the growing threat from insurrectional forces must be confronted. The law must be upheld strictly. The country must continue to be governed. “Europe is watching us,” he said.

Mr Napolitano is alarmed, and so he should be. The “forconi” pitchfork revolt has taken a disturbing turn for Italy’s elites. Police took off their helmets in sympathy at the latest mass demo in Turin.

This is becoming an anti-EU movement. One of the Forconi leaders has just been arrested for climbing up the EU offices in Rome and ripping down Europe’s blue and gold flag.

Where this is going is anybody’s guess. Citigroup says Italy will remain stuck in depression with growth of 0.1pc in 2014, zero again in 2015, and 0.2pc in 2016. If so, Italy’s output will be 10pc below the former peak a full eight years after the crisis, a far worse performance than during the Great Depression.


1 comment:

  1. A former Stalinist, switching to support of the EU? Thats the same damned thing.

    IRONKRAFT.

    ReplyDelete