Become a 5 Star Activist!

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The forthcoming European elections will be decisive. We need to go to Europe to change Italy. Change is possible. What seemed impossible yesterday is becoming reality today. The 5 Star MoVement is you. I’m asking you to distribute the manifesto. I’m asking you to let people know about the candidates, and to talk about these issues with people who have no access to the Internet. From today, anyone who wants to, can become a 5 Star Activist and move Italy towards a better future.
There’s a lot you can do to give Italy back to its citizens. Become a 5 Star Activist! If you’ve got a Facebook account, you can begin immediately, by clicking here.
Each activist will be able to do these things:
- get their friends involved by asking them to provide financial support to the M5S and to publish the 5 Star MoVement posters on their Facebook page;
- promote the tour events on their Facebook page;
- distribute the 5 Star MoVement’s programme for Europe by printing out the "M5S flyer“ and passing it around, or by posting the “M5S’s 7 points for the European elections” on their FB page;
- promote the candidates by getting the list out via Facebook;
At the end of the election campaign, I will be honoured to invite to dinner in Genoa, the top 100 in the rankings. The points will be gained according to the work done as a 5 Star activist. Let’s go to Europe to change Italy. #Vinciamonoi

PS. Today’s action for 5 Star Activists: Set up the logo of the 5 Star MoVement as your Facebook Image (200 points)

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Beppe Grillo’s VINCIAMONOI Tour from 5 May to 23 May. All the dates:
05 May: Cagliari, piazza dei Centomila
06 May: Palermo, piazza Politeama
07 May: Bari, Parco 2 Giugno
08 May: Naples, piazza Sanità
09 May: Reggio Emilia, piazza Prampolini
10 May: Bologna, piazza San Francesco
11 May: Treviso, piazza dei Signori
12 May: Brescia, piazza Duomo
13 May: Bergamo, piazza Vittorio Veneto
Today: Novara, Piazza martiri della libertà - 9:00 pm
15 May: Pavia, piazza Vittoria - 9:00 pm
16 May: Tortona, piazza Duomo - 9:00 pm
17 May: Turin, piazza Castello - 3:00 pm
17 May: Verbania, piazzale Flaim - 9:00 pm
18 May: Verona, piazza Bra - 9:00 pm
19 May: day off
20 May: Pescara, piazza 1 maggio - 6:00pm
21 May: Florence, piazza SS. Annunziata (to be confirmed) - 9:00 pm
22 May: Milan, piazza Duomo - 6:30pm
23 May: Rome, piazza San Giovanni - 6:00pm

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 12:48 PM in | Comments (14) | Comments in Italian (translated) Post a comment | Sign up | Send to a friend | | GrilloNews | listen_it_it.gifListen |
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Buongiorno

Mi chiamo STEFANO GASPARRI da 4 mesi sono bloccato in Moldavia io la mia compagna che e' Moldava e mio figlio Madalin (gravemente malato) nato qui in tempo che io ero in carcere, sono stato detenuto 2 mesi con una accusa di aver trafficato una ragazza di 17 anni e 10 mesi , io quella ragazza nemmeno la conosco, la Polizia Moldava non e' nuova per queste accuse false nel dossier sono indagato io e la mia compagna , per arrivare ai domiciliari mi e' stato portato via tutto fino agli ultimi centesimi che avevo, sono in una casa in affitto non posso uscire di casa , non abbiamo cibo , neache un soldo per prendere le medicine e pagare un dottore per bene al bimbo il quale ha : anemia, staffilococco in corpo ed ha infezioni agli occhi non bastando ha una piccola malformazione alla valvola polmonare , qui se non hai soldi ti fanno morire.
Ho scritto ripetutamente a quei immbecilli del Governo attuale, ma sapendo e non credendo in loro, amici di 5 stelle mi hanno consigliato di appellare lei.
L'ambasciata Italiana qui in Moldavia non mi ha mai assistito con un traduttore e con un avvocato, ad richieste di aiuto mi hanno sempre risposto che non e' di loro potere aiutarmi che sono con le mani legate,neache hanno riconosciuto il mio Bimbo come mio figlio e cittadino Italiano il vero problema e' che il caro Ambasciatore e' in rapporti buoni con la Polizia del traffico di persone e la Polizia tramite la Associazione LA STRADA quale il presidente e il comandante della Polizia, ad ogni arresto prende un fondo europeo considerevole di circa 100 mila ad arresto e successiva condanna, di caso come il mio ne esiste ancora uno qui di un cittadino Italiano senza famiglia e' detenuto da 4 anni presso il carcere di CHISINAU (MOLDAVIA) in faccia a me' gli sono stati chiesti 200 mila euro , per chiudere il caso e tornare in Italia a me, ne hanno chiesti 100 mila.
Noi attualmente siamo senza niente di niente e tra 3 giorni visto che e' il 2 mese che non paghiamo l'affitto ci butteranno in strada con il Bimbo .
Io ho fatto un sito per raccolta di alcuni aiuti ma risultato zero, perche' la gente e' diffidosa e non ho i metodi per divulgarlo..
Le chiedo di cuore di aiutarci a rendere nota la nostra situazione la prego , ho usato tutto il mio potere il mio prossimo gesto sara' togliendomi la vita dandomi fuoco, forse qualcuno si azzionera' salvando mia compagna e il bimbo.
Ringraziando porgo distinti saluti,
contatto : +37369111637
Gasparri Stefano


vi allego anche una email mandata il 20-04-2014 all'ambasciata Italiana in MOLDAVA

ALL' AMBASCIATA ITALIANA IN CHISINAU

Buongiorno

Vi scrivo in riferimento a quello che succede con la mia sistuazione , si vede che non seguite il caso per niente, per il fatto che io ho l'obbligo di non lasciare lo stato Moldavo e la stessa cosa la mia compagna BULARGA DIANA MAMMA DI MIO FIGLIO ,I documenti non me li hanno ridati per niente, i signori cercano solo modi di mangiare soldi quali io non ho.
Io mi trovo a casa al domicilio in cimislia senza cibo senza un soldo, mio figlio sta male e' molto ammalato ma nessuno si muove ..da giorni non mangiamo in quanto cio' che ci ha inviato REGINA PACIS era abbastanza per 7 giorni.
Ora mi chiedo dove e' scesa la dichiarazione che io ho litigato con la mia compagna ed voleva portarmi via il figlio ed per questo io mi sarei dato fuoco, questa dichiarazione e' una falsa!!! Io e la mia compagna ci amiamo e non abbiamo mai litigato ne avuto discussioni.
Mio figlio MADALIN LO RIBADISCO A VOI DA 2 MESI NON POSSO RICONOSCERLO , SE NON MUOVETE VOI LA SITUAZIONE.
IO HO SCRITTO CHE SE NON SI MUOVE QUALCUNO ED IO LA MIA FAMIGLIA NON LASCIAMO LA MOLDAVIA, IO MI DO FUOCO E QUANTO VERO DIO LO FACCIO DAVANTI L'AMBASCIATA......
Cordiali Saluti
Mostra cronologia messaggi

Posted by: GASPARRI STEFANO | May 21, 2014 10:17 AM


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The Excel "error" from the calculations of prof. Reinhart and Rogoff that allowed Governments in Europe to impose austerity measures!

Here the study that exposed the Excel error that pushed Europe in a forced recession!
Was it an error forgetting to include 5 economic data from 5 Countries ?

This is the Uni that uncovered the error that collapsed Europe's Economies.
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Political Economy Research Institute
Gordon Hall, 418 N. Pleasant St., Suite A, Amherst, MA 01002

here all the calculations

(for the pdf calculations follow the link below )

Herndon, Ash and Pollin replicate Reinhart and Rogoff and find that coding errors, selective exclusion of available data, and unconventional weighting of summary statistics lead to serious errors that inaccurately represent the relationship between public debt and GDP growth among 20 advanced economies in the post-war period. They find that when properly calculated, the average real GDP growth rate for countries carrying a public-debt-to-GDP ratio of over 90 percent is actually 2.2 percent, not -0:1 percent as published in Reinhart and Rogo ff. That is, contrary to RR, average GDP growth at public debt/GDP ratios over 90 percent is not dramatically different than when debt/GDP ratios are lower.

The authors also show how the relationship between public debt and GDP growth varies significantly by time period and country. Overall, the evidence we review contradicts Reinhart and Rogoff 's claim to have identified an important stylized fact, that public debt loads greater than 90 percent of GDP consistently reduce GDP growth.

http://www.peri.umass.edu/236/hash/31e2ff374b6377b2ddec04deaa6388b1/publication/566/

Posted by: john buatti | May 16, 2014 02:00 PM


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msnbc

Debunked the Harvard study that Republicans used to push austerity !

European austerity measures a spreadsheet excel error!

A 28-year-old economics graduate student has rewritten a study led by Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff that has been widely cited as the intellectual basis for worldwide government austerity measures. The Harvard study argues that higher public debt slows down economic growth when the GDP rises above a 90% threshold. But after an attempt to duplicate the Harvard study’s findings, Thomas Herndon, a Ph.D student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, ended up debunking Reinhart and Rogoff’s economic theory and found that the Reinhart-Rogoff study was incorrect due to spreadsheet coding errors and selective data. Herndon did not attribute motive; he focused only on the statistical and computational inaccuracies of the influential paper.

Released April 17 by University of Massachusetts researchers, Thomas Herndon and his two economics professors, Michael Ash and Robert Pollin, published a paper pointing out several inaccuracies in Reinhart and Rogoff’s paper. The “RR” study has been repeatedly used as an argument for pushing austerity and for the view that government deficits are economically threatening.

Herndon’s study finds that their “results are not consistent with and do not confirm their findings” after uncovering flaws in their data analysis and computing method. Herndon clarified the Harvard study’s “selective omissions and unconventional weighting” on Monday.

“We did use the terms ‘selective’ and ‘unconventional’ to describe the problems we saw with their paper, and we believe these are accurate characterizations. ‘Selective’ is an appropriate description because the data were ‘selected’ for exclusion,” Herndon writes.

In terms of Reinhart and Rogoff’s “unconventional” weighting system, Herndon points to a Excel spreadsheet error that compounds the growth-rate error. Herndon says, “It was the combination of the weighting system with the exclusion–for whatever reason–that combined to cause the most significant fall in average GDP growth. There is nothing inherently wrong with their weighting system. However it is unusual and it is their obligation to be open and clear in explaining why they used this unusual methodology.”
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Additionally, Herndon also uncovered a transcription error with Spain’s average GDP growth. In one of Reinhart and Rogoff’s tables, Spain’s average GDP growth was entered at 2.8% instead of 2.2%. Two other samples showed five countries–Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, and Canada–were removed, adding to the amount of computational errors in the Harvard report.
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Herndon concluded, “Contrary to RR, average GDP growth at public debt/GDP ratios over 90 percent is not dramatically different than when debt/GDP ratios are lower.”

An addendum to Herndon’s paper also defines a stronger causal relationship between economic and public debt. A contribution by his professor Arin Dube provides evidence that the causality runs the other way around – from slow growth to high debt.

Reinhart and Rogoff responded to Herndon’s claim, acknowledging several mistakes, but both economists contended that their study’s general argument that high debt leads to slower economic growth could still be corroborated.

“It is sobering that such an error slipped into one of our papers despite our best efforts to be consistently careful. We will redouble our efforts to avoid such errors in the future. We do not, however, believe this regrettable slip affects in any significant way the central message of the paper or that in our subsequent work,” Reinhart and Rogoff wrote.

msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell said in his program Wednesday evening, “No matter how many times academics try to tell politicians that they cannot base policy action on any one study in any area of social sciences or natural sciences politicians refuse to learn that lesson. Republicans loved the 90% number. Because for once they had some science behind what they were saying.”

Herndon, along with the economics department at UMass-Amherst, have undercut the austerity argument that there is no definitive threshold for the debt/GDP ratio relationship and that public debt holds a pivotal role in overcoming a financial recession–a topic that has been on the mind of every American.


http://www.msnbc.com/the-last-word/debunked-the-harvard-study-republicans

Posted by: john buatti | May 15, 2014 04:44 PM


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‘Austerity measures in Europe are due to an Excel error’

One of the academic papers supporting the austerity policies is being questioned after several mistakes were found in its Excel calculations, writes i.

Presented in 2010 by Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, the study “Growth in a time of debt” claims that countries with debt ratios above 90 per cent of GDP suffer a yearly 0.1 per cent contraction in their economies.

The Lisbon daily recalls that Nobel prize winner Paul Krugman considers this paper one of the pillars of the “intellectual building of the austerity economy.” Now, another team of economists found out that countries with the quoted debt ratio grew 2.2 per cent, only 1 per cent less than nations with lower debt ratios.

The mistake? Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, and Denmark had been accidentally excluded from a sum in their Excel spreadsheet.


http://www.presseurop.eu/en/content/news-brief/3691801-austerity-measures-europe-are-due-excel-error

Posted by: john buatti | May 15, 2014 04:34 PM


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The Excel Spreadsheet Error That Justified Global Austerity
By Ian Becker

An economic report that has been used frequently to justify austerity measures in the U.S. and Europe has one flagrant flaw: an Excel error.

The 2010 report by prominent U.S. economists Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff, titled "Growth In A Time Of Debt," argues that national economies whose public debt rises above 90 percent of GDP are doomed to stagnate.

But when a team of economists at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst tried to duplicate the study using the spreadsheet that Reinhart and Rogoff used, they soon saw that the rationale for austerity relied on significant errors. For instance, five countries—Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, and Denmark—were mistakenly excluded from the Excel calculations.

As Mark Gongloff points out, the coding error, as well as numerous other questionable aspects of the research, changes the report's findings significantly:

The most important error appears to be a failure to include years of data that showed Australia, Canada and New Zealand enjoying high economic growth and high debt at the same time. Including all the years of data boosts New Zealand's average economic growth rate under high debt to 2.58 percent, from negative 7.6 percent. Given the small amount of data used in Reinhart and Rogoff's study, this has a huge impact on the overall findings.

How influential was the study? As Quartz' Tim Fernholz demonstrates, "Growth In A Time of Debt" was used liberally by U.S. and U.K. lawmakers to argue in favor for the necessity of austerity measures in a time of recession. Check out the abbreviated list below:

“It is widely acknowledged, based on serious research, that when public debt levels rise about 90% they tend to have a negative economic dynamism, which translates into low growth for many years.” — European Commissioner Olli Rehn.

“Economists who have studied sovereign debt tell us that letting total debt rise above 90 percent of GDP creates a drag on economic growth and intensifies the risk of a debt-fueled economic crisis.” — House Budget Committee Chairman and former Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

“It’s an excellent study, although in some ways what you’ve summarized understates the risks.”— Former US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

“We would soon get to a situation in which a debt-to-GDP ratio would be 100%. As economists such as Reinhart and Rogoff have argued, that is the level at which the overall stock of debt becomes dangerous for the long-term growth of an economy. They would argue that that is why Japan has had such a bad time for such a long period. If deficits really solved long-term economic growth, Japan would not have been stranded in the situation in which it has been for such a long time.” Lord Lamont of Lerwick, former UK chancellor and sometime adviser to current chancellor George Osborne.

According to Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the economic policies that the report helped justify have pushed the unemployment rate over 10 percent for the Eurozone as a whole, and above 20 percent in Greece and Spain. In other words, says Baker, "This is a mistake that has had enormous consequences."

http://inthesetimes.com/news/entry/14886/the_excel_spreadsheet_error_that_justified_global_austerity

Posted by: john buatti | May 15, 2014 04:30 PM


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Survey: German interest in European Parliament elections low

Berlin (dpa) - Interest in this month‘s European Parliament elections is weak among Germans, data from the YouGov pollsters showed Wednesday, with 11 per cent of those surveyed saying they often discussed the elections with acquaintances.

Twenty per cent described themselves as excited about the race. The same poll found 20 per cent believed the election issues were matters that interested them personally, but a much higher percentage, 48, said they were interested in knowing the outcome of the vote.

Germany is to vote May 25, and election hoardings are prominent on roadsides. At the last European elections in 2009, national turnout in Germany was 43 per cent.

YouGov surveyed 2,187 Germans from April 28 to May 6 for the data

http://en.europeonline-magazine.eu/survey-german-interest-in-european-parliament-elections-low_335699.html

Posted by: john buatti | May 15, 2014 03:32 PM


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bbc

European elections: Euro-sceptics in Greece and Denmark

Voters will head to the polls across Europe in seven days' time for an election that will affect over 500 million people.

With some countries experiencing high unemployment and concerns about migration and the cost of being part of the EU, many places are experiencing scepticism about being part of the union.

The European elections could therefore produce a parliament with more opponents to the EU than ever before.

Chris Morris and Matthew Price have visited Greece and Denmark to assess the public mood in each country ahead of the vote.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-27421170

Posted by: john buatti | May 15, 2014 03:26 PM


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Investing-com

Italian GDP -0.1% vs. 0.2% forecast

- Italy’s gross domestic product fell unexpectedly last month, official data showed on Thursday.

Italian GDP -0.1% vs. 0.2% forecast
In a report, Istat said that Italian GDP fell to -0.1%, from 0.1% in the preceding month.

Analysts had expected Italian GDP to rise 0.2% last month.

http://www.investing.com/news/economic-indicators/italian-gdp--0.1-vs.-0.2-forecast-284410

Posted by: john buatti | May 15, 2014 02:53 PM


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Italy returned to negative growth in first quarter

Analysts had expected Italian GDP to rise 0.2% last month.

MAY 15 - Italy returned to negative growth in the first quarter of 2014, with gross domestic product (GDP) dropping 0.1% compared to the last three months of 2013, Istat said Thursday in its preliminary estimate for the period. The national statistics agency said GDP was 0.5% down in the first quarter of this year with respect to the same period in 2013. The figures are a big blow to Italy's hopes of seeing a strong economic recovery after it emerged from its longest postwar recession in the second half of last year.

Italy's economy grew 0.1% in the October-December period of 2013 with respect to the previous three months for the first quarter of positive growth in over two years. Istat said its preliminary estimate for the first quarter showed that the Italian economy is in a phase of "stagnation".

http://www.ansamed.info/ansamed/en/news/sections/economics/2014/05/15/italy-returned-to-negative-growth-in-first-quarter_ea5fe8d4-65f8-4656-b4e6-87e0bfaecb07.html

Posted by: john buatti | May 15, 2014 02:50 PM


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Bloomberg

UBI Offices Searched by Italy Police Amid Probe on Units


Italy’s finance police searched Unione di Banche Italiane SCPA’s offices as part of a probe into its leasing and factoring units, the bank said.

The searches are related to complaints filed with authorities in 2012 about the activity of UBI’s factoring and leasing units and in 2013 about the alleged existence of investors’ agreements not disclosed to regulators, the Bergamo-based lender said in a statement today. “The bank, which is fully cooperating with the financial police, already provided at the time clarifications about those complaints.”

The police searched the offices of Chief Executive Officer Victor Massiah and other directors, including the chairmen of the bank’s supervisory and management boards, said two people familiar with the situation, who asked not to be named because the investigation isn’t public.

The probe relates to allegations of obstruction of regulatory activities at UBI, Italy’s No. 5 bank, while the fraud investigation concerns UBI’s leasing unit, where some employees are suspected of fraud and money laundering, one of the people said.
Complaints Filed

Italian consumer group Adusbef filed two complaints in 2012 regarding the alleged purchase of luxury goods by bank managers at low prices and the management of the factoring and leasing units, Elio Lannutti, who heads Adusbef, said in a statement today. In July 2013, several supervisory board members filed a complaint about the alleged existence of secret accords among shareholders, UBI said.

“I’m very relaxed and confident that this will be resolved,” Massiah said on today’s conference call with analysts. “This is a non-story.”

UBI shares reversed earlier gains, falling 1.7 percent to 6.27 euros in Milan trading, giving the lender a market value of 5.7 billion euros.

UBI reported today that first-quarter profit more than doubled on higher income from lending and lower costs. Net income (UBI) rose to 58.1 million euros ($79.7 million) from 26.5 million euros a year ago, the bank said in a statement. UBI was expected to report a profit of 49.8 million euros, according to the average estimate in a Bloomberg survey of six analysts.

Massiah is reducing costs to strengthen UBI’s finances and boost profitability as stricter rules by regulators curb lending and squeeze margins. UBI is one of the 15 Italian lenders being reviewed by the European Central Bank as part of a three-stage asset quality review and stress test before it takes over banking supervision for the euro area in November.

Revenue rose 6.7 percent from a year earlier to 853.4 million euros on higher income from lending and trading. Loan-loss provisions rose to 198.6 million euros from 157.7 million euros.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-14/ubi-offices-said-to-be-searched-by-italy-police-amid-fraud-probe.html

Posted by: john buatti | May 15, 2014 02:37 AM


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Arrest requested for centre-left MP Genovese

(ANSA) - Messina, March 19 - A judge in the Sicilian city of Messina on Wednesday upheld a request from prosecutors for the arrest of Francantonio Genovese, an MP for Premier Matteo Renzi's centre-left Democratic Party (PD), in relation to a fraud probe.

The Lower House will now have to decide whether to approve the arrest of one of its members.

The judge also put four people, including three who work with Genovese, under house arrest.

The MP, the former mayor of Messina, is suspected of illegally profiting from contracts for the public financing of training programmes.

He could face charges that include criminal association, money laundering, embezzlement and fraud.

http://www.ansa.it/web/notizie/rubriche/english/2014/03/19/Arrest-requested-centre-left-MP-Genovese_10254469.html

Posted by: john buatti | May 15, 2014 02:21 AM


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House OKs arrest of PD MP in fraud probe !

Rome, May 7 - The House committee on parliamentary immunity on Wednesday granted an arrest request for a member of Premier Matteo Renzi's Democratic Party (PD). Francantonio Genovese, who denies the charges, suspended himself from the PD in March after a judge in the Sicilian city of Messina upheld a request from prosecutors for his arrest in relation to a fraud probe. The judge put four people, including three who work with Genovese, under house arrest. The MP, the former mayor of Messina, is suspected of illegally profiting from contracts for the public financing of training programmes. He could face charges that include criminal association, money laundering, embezzlement and fraud. "I give advance notice of my intention to suspend myself from the Democratic Party and the parliamentary party for understandable reasons of opportuneness and the high sense of respect that I have always had for the (State) institutions, my party colleagues and all parliamentarians," Genovese said on March 19. He added that he was "certain" he could clarify his position and disprove any suspicions about him. "I'll do that, with serenity, at every forum, not excluding parliament," he said.

http://www.gazzettadelsud.it/news/english/91070/House-OKs-arrest-of-PD-MP-in-fraud-probe.html

Posted by: john buatti | May 15, 2014 02:17 AM


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Italian government fails to flog Maseratis on eBay

Nine Maserati cars put up for sale by the Italian government on eBay have so far failed to attract a single bid, Italian media reported. The luxury official car sale is part of a symbolic effort to cut outrageous spending by ministries that has sparked public anger.

http://www.thelocal.it/20140506/italian-government-fails-to-flog-maseratis-on-ebay

The cars, which were put up for sale by Italy’s defence ministry on the auctioning website on April 28th have been described in the media as the stars of the government’s collection.

The models include a saloon car from 2005 priced at €23,000 and an armoured car from 2011 priced at €96,000, which is the most expensive, Italian daily Il Messaggero reported.

A brand new Maserati can cost around €100,000.

The government had hoped to raise almost €1 million from the sale of the luxury cars, but with three days left until the auction closes, this is looking increasingly unlikely.

So far the Italian government has raised €371,400 through the auctioning of 52 of its luxury official cars on the auctioning website.

The cars sold were being used by the police, the fire brigade and the defence ministry and included five BMWs and two Audis, the government said in a statement.

A total of 151 chauffeured cars were hoped to be auctioned off by May 16th in an initiative that has gained broad public support and was launched by centre-left Prime Minister Matteo Renzi shortly after coming to power in February.

The government said the official cars chosen for sale were "those that the public administration retains no longer essential for institutional ends".

As Italy struggles to recover from a painful two-year recession, national and local authorities have been forced to cut down on thousands of official cars known as "auto blu" (blue cars) that have been for decades one of the many perks for the political class.

Posted by: john buatti | May 14, 2014 03:28 PM


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Financial Times
May 11, 2014

Italy’s europhiles need to make the currency work!


Globalisation brought new customers for German cars, but for Italy it brought new competitors!


"A former European cabinet minister once told me in a moment of candour that we can count ourselves lucky it never occurred to the Greeks that the euro itself may have been the deep cause of their economic meltdown."

http://tiny.cc/10pufx

The only country where such a debate is taking place is Italy. Opinion polls suggest that more than 50 per cent of Italians support parties that have questioned their country’s commitment to the euro in one form or another. The Lega Nord, a northern Italian separatist party, wants out. The populist Five Star Movement, with more than 25 per cent approval in the opinion polls, wants a referendum. Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister, last week said Italy required a lower exchange rate as a precondition for staying in.

Why is this debate happening in Italy, of all places? I can offer two explanations.

The first is that Italians have been suffering for much longer than other southern Europeans. Italy did not benefit from the credit boom of the past decade. It did not experience a large surge in house prices, no frenzy of infrastructure investment, no large inflows of northern European money. People did not grow rich in those years. The economy has been stagnating from the moment the country adopted the euro in 1999. Spain had bust after boom. Italy had bust after bust.


The second reason is that Italy, unlike Greece and Spain, has relied on austerity as its sole instrument of economic adjustment. Its 2013 deficit was 3 per cent of gross domestic product. In France, it was 4.3 per cent; in Spain, 7.1 per cent; in Greece, 13.1 per cent. The technicians in Rome and Brussels tell us it is possible for Italy to reduce its high debt even at relatively low levels of growth as long as fiscal policy is sufficiently restrictive. This calculation is technically correct. But it depends on long-term political support. A cautious interpretation of the opinion polls is that we should not take such support for granted.

In Spain, for example, at least some portion of the economic adjustment has occurred via the labour market – through some combination of falling wages and dismissals in the private sector.

Many Italians believe, whether rightly or wrongly, that the euro is not working for them. This is not a very sophisticated debate on either side of the argument – but these are early days. I have yet to hear a convincing account of how an exit could be engineered so that Italy would profit from it, or how this could happen without triggering a massive financial crisis. Even the logistics would be unbelievably complicated.

Likewise, supporters of currency union have failed to explain how Italy can prosper inside a monetary union with Germany. The lazy argument is that Italy’s problems have nothing to do with the exchange rate regime. It is all about structural rigidities. As long as Italy reforms, all is well.

This is nonsense. Globalisation was an asymmetric shock. It brought new customers for German luxury cars, but for Italy it mainly brought new competitors. It would not be unreasonable for a country to respond to an asymmetric shock through an exchange rate devaluation.

Can Italy adjust inside the monetary union? For that to work in practice for a large country, that would require economic convergence, transfers, labour mobility and similar legal and regulatory environments. I find this hard to imagine without a political union. Countries that are sufficiently similar to Germany, such as the Netherlands or Austria, find it easier to adjust to shocks. Italy is too large and too inflexible.

Structural reforms are necessary for convergence, but they are not sufficient. Some of the essential prerequisites – such as Germany’s readiness to shrink its current account surplus – are not in the gift of Italian politicians. Italy’s pro-euro establishment has yet to explain how it will secure the co-operation of other eurozone governments.

The governments of both Mr Berlusconi and Mario Monti accepted the highly restrictive fiscal compact without extracting concessions – for instance, an agreement to issue joint debt instruments – that would help stabilise the country’s economy.

Supporters of currency union should not fear a broad debate about the political, economic and social choices entailed by each course of action. Without such a debate, the opponents of the euro will most probably prevail by default. Electorates can be relied upon to reject systems that fail to produce economic growth for long periods.

This point has not been reached in Greece or Spain – and probably not in Italy, either. But Italy is the closest to it. Let the debate begin.

Posted by: john buatti | May 14, 2014 03:23 PM


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Beppe Grillo's Blog is an open space for you to use so that we can come face to face directly. As your comment is published immediately, there's no time for filters to check it out. Thus the Blog's usefulness depends on your cooperation and it makes you the only ones responsible for the content and the resulting outcomes.

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Beppe Grillo Meetups

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Groups 372 Members 76.596
Cities 281 Countries 10

Books and DVDs

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Check out the books and DVDs of Beppe Grillo (service in Italian)

Initiatives


Clean Up Parliament

Map of Power


Awards

Webby award
14th Annual Webby Awards Official Honoree Selections

Interviews


Tegenlicht - Beppe Grillo's Interview

"De toekomst van Europa volgens Beppe Grillo"

(Tegenlicht TV)

International Press Review

The New Yorker
"Beppe's Inferno"

Times
"The Comic Who Shook Italy"
(The video | Related post)

Forbes
"The Web Celeb 25"
(Related post)

BBC
"Meeting Italy's silenced satirist"

AlJazeera
People and power: "Beppe's Blog"

TIME magazine
TIME.com's First Annual Blog Index
(related post)