March 03, 2009

Dying of starvation/1

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Strip tease for precarious workers

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Someone is knocking on the door. You open and everything changes. The letter saying you are sacked has arrived for you too. You are no longer one of the Modern Slaves kept alive by a paltry wage. And you are not even a candidate for a White Death who has a job anyway. Now you are one who is Starving to Death. You have the right to the “social card”. You are one of the new two or perhaps three millions of unemployed in 2009.
The moment of detachment, of walking out of the factory or of the company is a state of trance. Your brain is floating and everything is under discussion. Anyone who has lived through it or who is living through it, knows that it is like a tiny stroke. You feel as though you are lost In nothingness and you don’t know what to do. The day before, the gates of the factory were open and you talked with your companions about politics or about football. Then the company closes, without rhyme or reason and without warning anyone. You find yourself at 6 o’clock in the morning in front of the gates with your colleagues and with the bobbies. Not much conversation. Lots of truncheon blows.
If you are a precarious worker, you have no protection. If you are an employee you have the pay for those laid off for a few months. You are outside the system and you only understand that now. Unemployment is contagious. If a company closes then often their suppliers close down too. If the number of unemployed people goes up in one area, then shops and supermarkets close down there too. The unemployed person, the modern person who is dying of starvation, is a virus. Living in a land governed by the richest man, by the parliamentarians who are the most numerous and the most well paid, starting with the pensions to senators and deputies after two and a half years. In the city, he is surrounded by 4x4’s, by tax dodgers who defraud the State of 250 billion Euro a year, by employees of organised crime, the top company in the country for turnover. He’s not a politician, a tax dodger, a criminal, that’s why he is unemployed. He has lived in a separate world where the word “honesty” had a meaning.
I see dignified people asking for alms in the stations or pressing the telephone token buttons in the metro stations. A lady asked me for a few Euros. She hadn’t recognised me. She didn’t know she was taking to a person from Genoa, crikey! She told me she was hungry. She was not a non-European-Community-person, a clandestine, a Roma. She was Italian and she had no work. She was a new “dying of starvation” person.
Every day, the blog receives stories of new people who are dying of starvation, about how they lost their job. I have decided to collect these together into a book that I will publish in digital format that can be downloaded free from the blog.
Tell your stories and put a shine on your clogs.
They will never give up (but is it in their interests?). Neither will we.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 07:41 PM in Economics | Comments (2)
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February 26, 2009

Banks of the government and of robbery

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The Great Flight

The banks and the regulatory authorities are the main ones responsible for the financial catastrophe. In the last few years, Where have the Bank of Italy, Consob, ABI, the Ministers of the Treasury been? People like Tremorti and Padoa Schioppa? Like Fazio and Draghi? Like Geronzi, Passera, and Profumo? The mayors who have invested the taxes of the citizens in derivatives? The financial analysts? The economic journalists? People like Cardia and Capuano? The rubbish shares, the futures without a future, the subprime sub-primes, the CDOs, the holes in the balance sheets, the banking liabilities without guarantees. Either these gentlemen knew everything and thus are criminals and should be prosecuted, or they are incompetents and should be sacked as soon as possible.
Renewal has to start with the pinnacle of finance. To get rid of the politicians and leave the bankers in place is of no use. The next time round, the ones who have control of the financial system will elect other figureheads, who are willing servants or are business partners.
To save the country that has been destroyed by the banks they are lending money to the banks without getting rid of those responsible. It’s an upside down world. They are using public money, the fruit of the taxes of the families to reward those who ravished the savings of the citizens. Without even asking for renewal, with Passera and Geronzi still in post with salaries of millions of Euros. Instead of taking a step back, they have taken two steps forward. The ones who are responsible are rewarded. Often the citizens have lost everything. If you are starving and you steal ham from a supermarket, they arrest you. If you throw millions of families into poverty you become President of Mediobanca
A collective clearing away is taking place
The banks control the newspapers, they are present in the Boards of Directors of the publishing groups. The financial tsunami is described as a supernatural event, something inevitable, something cosmic. The top brass in the banks are the victims of the situation not the ones responsible for it. In recent years, how much have the bankers gained in stock options thanks to the toxic shares? After the crisis, by how much have their salaries gone down? I think that it’s necessary to have a public discussion with data, names, position, illegal gains of those who have been at the top of the financial institutions and their journalist accomplices. Meanwhile, not a single Euro from the State to the banks.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 08:54 PM in Economics | Comments (6)
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February 16, 2009

Tremorti and the New World Order

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INNSE police charges: interview with a worker

Tremorti is going around Europe talking about the New World Order. The psycho-dwarf is also starting to develop a few worries about the economy. Ms Marcegaglia of the incinerators is announcing a poverty risk. Italy is producing ever less. The GDP was -0.9% in 2008. Italy is getting ever more into debt. The public debt is almost 1,700 billion euro. Since the beginning of the year, hundreds of thousands of precarious workers have silently lost their jobs. Technically they were not employees but “project workers”. With the termination of the pretend “project work”, which really was true continuous work, they are all at home without any social safety net thanks to the Maroni law labelled with Biagi’s name. The 2007 precarious worker has become the 2009 non-sacked person. Neither alive, nor dead, a social zombie.
Factories are endlessly closing amid the total indifference of the news media. Public solidarity is not bothered about the demonstrators. Instead the police baton is arriving relentlessly on top of the skull of the laid-off worker, of the unemployed worker, of the father of a family who raises his voice. Since August 2008 the Fiat factories at Pomigliano D’Arco have only been in operation for a few weeks and they risk closure. The protest finished in beatings last week on the motorway. It’s not the only one. There are dozens, however they are known only to the beaten and the beaters. On 9 February, in Milan, the workers at INNSE, where the factory has closed down after 9 years, were charged. One military guy for every pretty girl and a Bobby for every unemployed worker.
By now it’s simplistic to talk about the hooves of the bison. Every day from all over Italy, I’m getting appeals from workers in companies that are closing down. Tar Head is worrying about wiretapping and about doing electioneering in Sardinia while Italy is sinking. The islands of unemployment are still at the level of leopard spots, but by June they will all have joined up. The Bobbies will not be enough. They will have to ask for help from the United Nations soldiers. At the beginning of January, this year’s GDP was -1%, after a few weeks we have got to forecasts of -3%, the tax revenue will go down for the combined result of the closure of factories and the drop in consumption. Tremorti’s final lifesaver to be able to continue paying the salaries of the nearly 4 million public employees are the State bonds. With new issues and bonds that have fallen due, there are bonds worth hundreds of billions of euro on the market to cover State debts. However, together with our own, there will be thousands of billions of bonds put on sale by other States, States that are less indebted than we are and without the risk of defaulting. By now, Tremorti is in full delirium. If you interview him, he flees. When he’s talking to himself he talks about the New World Order. If there is no tsunami, I’ll eat my hat.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:31 AM in Economics | Comments (4)
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January 22, 2009

Gambling Towns

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The Jesi MeetUp and the derivatives that the town has invested in


Italian towns have something in common: 35 billion euro of investments in funds, bonds, derivatives, and other types of paper that have become trash. The debts of the Italian towns make Parmalat blanche and someone will have to pay. In recent years, towns have become financial speculators. They have used the taxes of the citizens to play on the Stock Market. The results are astounding.
The financial crisis has transformed the investments into debts. The towns had benefits at the start with advances obtained from the banks on the forecast of consistent gains and they find that they have money to pay back and the initial capital that has been wiped out. As far as I know the town functionaries are not financial experts and not even the citizen body has assigned them the facility of using their money to buy shares in Lehman Brothers or the Bank of Scotland. Basically our mayors have suddenly taken on the role of bankers and they have lost everything.
In 2008, Taranto, Catania, and Rome went bust and were saved by the State coffers. They are in the front ranks. The financial operations often have picturesque names with a clear reference to the town. In Venice there are some current investments called "Canaletto" and "Rialto". Certain towns have decided to take the banks to court. Milan has taken legal action against Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan Chase, UBS and Hypo Real Estate’s DEPFA. Basically they are accused of having deceived the town. Thus this is a shining example of “abuse of the vulnerable”
Moratti’s legal action could open up the way for a class action by all Italian savers who have lost their shirt in 2008 and who will lose their underpants in 2009. If the town has been swindled, so have all Italian investors. What’s true is that 35 billion is missing from the coffers of the towns. Who watches over the Gambling Towns?
The financial operations are usually started off by the mayors who don’t have to be accountable for that because , the paying out period for the investments and thus the potential (usually certain) for loss falls on the following administration. For example, Moratti ‘s financial debts are the offspring of the Albertini administration. Up until today, there has been a precarious equilibrium with ever riskier investments that covered the previous losses. Now the cork has popped with the world economic crisis.
We are left with the question: “Who watches over the Gambling Towns? The mayors cannot expose their towns to going bust by playing roulette with tax payers’ money. The strategy of the towns is to take the banks to court. The strategy of the citizens should be to take the mayors to court. Crikey. The debt of the towns is bigger than that of Parmalat and no one is saying anything. No one is worried.
They will never give up (but is it in their interests?). Neither will we.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 08:10 PM in Economics | Comments (7)
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January 11, 2009

Catricalà is always the last to know

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The Mapping of Power
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Antonio Catricalà, the Head of the Competition and Market Supervisory Body has discovered something new. He has discovered that the Italian Stock Exchange is an orgy of conflict of interests in which the investor always plays the passive part. Directors on the Boards are present in 6/7/8 Boards, even for companies that are competing with each other. And they are always the same people. The control of the companies is done with Chinese boxes. Just 0.11% was enough for the unhappy Tronchetti to control Telecom Italia.
After a “finding out investigation”, Catricalà has discovered what is known even to the clandestines who have just disembarked at Lampedusa.
80% of the Italian finance groups have intertwined connections in the way of personnel and shares. They have staff working for one company who are also working for a competitor. For Catricalà, the solution is “heightened attention to corporate governance”. The solution is quite different. Close the Supervisory Body that costs a mountain of money to the Italian people and close down the Italian Stock Exchange. Let the Italian companies transfer to any European Stock Exchange where there are real controls. In Spain, and in the Netherlands, the conflict of interests does not exist and in Paris it relates only to 26.7%. With 80% our Stock Exchange is in the process of decomposition, a place to be avoided if you want to look after your own savings. If the anomaly of the Stock Exchange is sorted out, then that of politics is also resolved. The politicians are the chambermaids of the economic powers. If you want to really come to an understanding of what is happening on the Stock Exchange, use the "Mapping of Power. Type in the name of the company or the name of the Director and then start shivering. It would be better to entrust your investments to the Casalesi than to this lot. The current "Mapping of Power shows the intertwining between the Directors of the different companies. In the future it will be brought up to date with 2009 data and it will also show the share ownership and the Supervisors present on the Boards of Directors.
I’m not doing this for you, but for Catricalà, to help him move on with his work. To give him a hand, I will also go to Brussels to explain to Europe what the Italian Stock Exchange is. They won’t believe me, but I’ll try. They will never give up (but is it in their interests?). Neither will we.

PS: If you discover some conflict of interest, send an email to Catricalà.

Previous posts:
Power Mapping - 26 March 2007
Stock Exchange Orgy - 22 September 2006

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 06:23 PM in Economics | Comments (3)
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January 06, 2009

The Power of Debt

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Tremonti and Bossi
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For every 100 euro in taxes that we pay, 18 are interest on the Public Debt. The issue of the Public Debt is simple: if we don’t bother about the Debt, the Debt will bother us. It is bothering us every day, since its explosion that happened with the governments of Craxi and Andreotti. Cuts for schools, health, research. The decay of the Country. The Debt takes away resources from the services and from development to give it to politics and the lobbies. Italians pay taxes for interest payments on a colossal debt contracted by others in their name.
The year 2008 closed with about 1,700 billion euro in Debt. In the year 2009, we expect to pay interest payments of 80 billion. With 80 billion we would be able to restart the economy, quite a different kettle of fish from the “Social Card”. In the year 2009 there are State Bonds coming due for payment and on offer for between 2 and 300 billion euro. Who will buy them? Tremonti is reassuring us. Let him tell us whether there are takers, whether there are finance groups, or bankers who have already taken up the offer. Whether Mediaset has already ordered something, whether the patriots Colaninno and Tronchetti are already on the waiting list. Italy cannot wait until the last minute to find out. If necessary, let them start a collection among the public service employees. I know that you have already thought about that. Instead of 30% of the salary you could give an equivalent amount in State Bonds. It’s not a bad idea. Public employees buy the Public Debt by the mechanism by which the State pays public salaries. It’s a bit contorted but it could work.
The “spread”. Have you already heard this word? It sounds like a soft drink. Halfway between a “sprite” and a “chinotto”. The “spread” is the difference in the interest paid on State Bonds of one nation and that of another nation. In order to sell our State Bonds, we have to offer interest rates that are higher than those of others, like Germany, France, the Netherlands ... and the spread gets bigger. It gets bigger like the taxes do. It’s like a bit of elastic that is pulled. State Bonds, if bought in large quantities are insured. It’s insurance against the collapse (the “default”) of the State that issues them. The cost of Italy’s insurance is going crazy.
In 2008, the State Balance Sheet went into the red by 52.9 billion euro. The coupling Berlusconi/Tremonti is unbeatable in getting the Italians into debt. And it’s also in order to cover this 52.9 billion that it’s necessary to sell the BOT and CCT {government bonds}. The power of Debt is enormous. It’s a power that the Italians have left to the politicians. They can get us into debt without the need for financial cover, mortgage our future when they want, for how much they want. The Power of Debt must be taken from them before the Italy hayloft catches fire. Crikey. I’m running into the kitchen. I can smell the pong of Tremonti burning.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 08:08 PM in Economics | Comments (1)
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January 02, 2009

Zero concessions

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Recession? No, thank you!
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Once upon a time, long, long ago, people used to rob from the rich to give to the poor. Later on, this situation began to change drastically. People began robbing the poor to give to the rich. While it may be true that the poor have very little, but there are many of them. Very little, stolen from many people soon make up many billions of Euro in our Country. Privatising the profits and mutualising the losses is something that has long been the motto of unscrupulous businessmen, starting with Fiat’s use of unemployment benefits paid for by the taxpayer.
Today, many of the poor people have been made destitute. Robbing the poor to give to the rich has become a hopeless enterprise. The great entrepreneurs are however people that know what goes on in society and understand the problems facing the unemployed and the families with no income and no roof over their heads. They are not totally unaware of the increasing number of destitute people and they have now come up with a solution to the problem: take away from the almost poor to give to those dying of starvation. Speaking for the Veneto Region industrialists, Andrea Riello stated that: “Public sector employees could give up a small percentage of their earnings for the next year in order to donate it in the form of a temporary loan to replenish the welfare funds. A loan that would be repaid just as soon as there is an economic recovery.” PDwithoutanel deputy, industrialist and former President of Federmeccanica, Calearo, rushed to express support for Riello: “Riello’s provocation does make sense however …this contribution would be required from office bearers, managers and directors of companies … and Government employees, of whom there are many. However, it would be great if the politicians were to set the example.”
Our politicians are the highest paid in Europe and the majority of them are either sentenced offenders or under investigation. After only two and a half years in Parliament they will have earned the right to a full pension, doing a job for which they are being paid but are seldom if ever present since they in many cases hold down other jobs, thus earning double salaries. They are already setting an example. We can ask nothing more of them.
Mr. Riello, instead of promoting solidarity between Government employees and the private unemployed, I would begin with the public concessionaries. These are people that earn hundreds of millions and indeed billions of Euro each year on Government assets. Government concessions should mean zero profit for the concessionaries themselves. These assets belong to the Country’s citizens, both employed and unemployed. The running costs must be covered but any profits, if any profits are made, should accrue to the State. The motorways, telecommunication frequencies, radio and television broadcasting frequencies, water resources and waste disposal contracts should be renegotiated as zero concessions.
When do we start? Are you going to tell Minister Marcegaglia about the incinerators?
They may never give up (is it in their interest?), but neither will we.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 04:33 PM in Economics | Comments (6)
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December 21, 2008

The boss' pay

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Millions of Euro of salaries with no results. You lead a company to bankruptcy, or almost. Companies such as Alitalia, the Government Railways or Telecom Italia and in return you receive bonuses to your heart’s content, stock options and remuneration worthy of a thousand and one nights. Who do you think paid the kingly salaries received by Cimoli, Buora, Catania, Tronchetti, Romiti and Ruggiero? The answer is easy. The minority shareholders, the 12,000 workers dismissed by Alitalia, the 9,000 people retrenched (so far) by Telecom, the taxpayers and the people on unemployment benefits. These managers are the new leeches on the economy, who feed on the blood of the companies and who never go down with the company. They are recycled by the system into other companies. This is the Apex of the Economy. If you follow orders and never rat out, then you will be rewarded. A closed circle where no one ever speaks out, no one ever hears anything, no one ever sees anything and, above all, no one ever names any names.
The unemployed family man returns home, looks at his kids who have no future and then sees those that caused the company to fail appearing on the television, showered with adulation, cosseted and with a million-Euro glint in their eyes. The bison’s hooves are deadly and perhaps it would be better to avoid being in their path next spring.

Text of the interview with the authors of: "La paga dei padroni" (The Boss’ pay)."

"According to certain influential institutions, the economic crisis is set to continue for at least the next two years and yet, only one of the many major Italian managers and the most highly paid one in 2007 at that, namely Alessandro Profumo, has said, almost as if making a concession, that he will not be receiving any bonuses in 2008. He states that he may give up any bonuses. His bonus in 2007 amounted to six million Euro, and this on top of his basic pay, which amounted to more than three million Euro. Therefore, we will see Alessandro Profumo when the company’s financial results are published since, even without receiving any bonus, his excellent salary is equivalent to the average of the top one-hundred Italian Managers who enjoyed gross earnings of some four million Euro each in 2007. He is the only one of the whole bunch to have stated that he did not deserve any bonus due to the bank’s poor performance in 2007. All the others have remained silent: from Corrado Passera, Managing Director of Intesa SanPaolo and one of the main competitors of Profumo’s Unicredit Bank, through to the top managers of the other major banks and industrial companies, for example Pirelli, whose share price has dropped sharply on the stock exchange and whose Managing Director, Negri, is the highest paid of the lot, with earnings of some six million a year. Now the minority shareholders, the public and the customers of these major listed companies that also manage private savings, namely the savings of the masses, those without any say, will be expecting these top managers to act in keeping with the very modest results that their companies have achieved.
These managers’ remuneration, as we attempted to explain in our book entitled "La paga dei padroni" and published by Chiarelettere, were stratospheric but were never linked to the achievement of any results, or rather, the financial statements never stipulated to which results their remuneration was in fact linked. What we have indeed noticed during our observation of the situation in recent years is that the remuneration received by the managers has continued to increase unabated, irrespective of the results achieved and, in fact, just a few years ago now, two American scholars working at the heart of global capitalism write a book entitled "Remuneration without results". This example also holds true here by us. There is certainly enough political interference in the running of the State-owned public companies. Just recently we have seen the case of Alitalia, which, although bankrupt, is currently in the process of being taken over by a consortium of private businessmen, leaving the massive burden of the Company’s debt to be carried by the taxpayers and the shareholders, half of whom are private individuals. Yet in 2004, when Berlusconi was at the helm of Government and Tremonti was the Minister of Finance, Berlusconi called in the services of the man he classified at the time as the best manager in the world, namely Giancarlo Cimoli of the Government Railways Company, offering him a remuneration package that was the highest being paid by any of the European airlines, or 2.8 million Euro gross in 2005, a figure that was more than double that paid to its top manager by Lufthansa and more than triple that paid by Air France. However, Alitalia was and still is the airline posting the biggest losses not only in Europe, but worldwide. The remainder of the Italian companies and capitalist system is being managed by private entrepreneurs with little capital but who nevertheless expect to run the companies personally or to do so through their children, rewarded with exorbitant salaries and, in this case, in my opinion, politics is conspicuous by its absence. It doesn’t seem to matter that the decisions are being made by a closed system of relationships in which capital poor entrepreneurs, capitalists and bankers pay themselves exceptional salaries even when the profits, which should form the basis for remuneration, at least according to the classical and most proper capital reward systems, are indeed scarce or too inconsistent.
As far as we are concerned, the problem is not so much how to measure the extent of the remuneration paid out, but rather, the problem we have is the following: When he left Fiat after 25 years of service, Cesare Romiti was given a golden handshake of 100 million Euro. This amounts to a payout of four million Euro for each year of service. The question that arises is the following: why did Fiat give all this money to Cesare Romiti in the form of a golden handshake? It was while we were searching for an answer to this question that the real problems and failures of the Italian capitalists system were uncovered, namely that, today, the workers and minority shareholders invariably end up bearing the brunt of the serious effects of the economic crisis. What we would like to know, and what remains to be seen in 2009, is not only whether or not they will be reducing their salaries accordingly in the light of the economic crisis, but also whether or not the managers and entrepreneurs who together run these Italian companies change their behaviour and their management style in any way. In other words, whether they will genuinely work towards mitigating the effects of the crisis and improving the performance of the companies or whether they will instead continue to display the same behaviour that so clearly emerges in our book, namely this typical way of concerning themselves mainly with their personal interests in terms of remuneration, as well as making other profits, instead of ensuring that their companies perform as well as they should. The figures we are dealing with may be huge for the individual managers that receive them but, were they to be divided between all of the companies’ employees, these figures would fade into insignificance and, therefore, the problem is not that if the managers earned less, the company would do better, but rather precisely the opposite. If the companies were better managed, the managers would earn less. Managers’ salaries are not the cause of the poor performance by the companies, but rather one of the effects. It is a symptom of poor company management. Abroad, there is a much closer link between cause and effect and those managers who manage the companies and the banks poorly are sent home as a result. We see this on a daily basis in the newspapers. In Italy instead, none of them is being sent home and indeed we read in the newspapers certain statements made by top managers and bankers claiming that the current crisis is not of their doing, but is simply something out of the blue.
Abroad, in recent months and with the advent of the global financial crisis, we have not only seen many captains of industry being sent home, but also many others having to accept cuts in their salaries, so-called bonuses and much vaunted performance rewards. However, in certain other countries such as Germany, the Government has established a ruling that, in the case of companies that receive aid in order to avoid going under, the managers may not earn more than 500 thousand Euro per year (gross) if they are to keep their jobs. This could be a mistake however. While we don’t believe it is right to cap earnings by law, it would certainly be opportune to encourage greater moderation and closer links between remuneration and company results. In the USA, where the three major automobile manufacturers of Detroit risk sliding into bankruptcy unless billions of dollars of government aid is forthcoming, the top managers have already cut their basic pay to one dollar, or so they say, and the remainder of their package will only be paid out if the company results warrant such payment. Nothing of the sort has yet occurred in Italy, in the sense that no one has yet made any announcement of this sort, except for Profumo who, as was stated earlier, was obliged to do so as a result of the difficulties currently being experienced by his bank and the risk of being sent home." Gianni Dragoni and Giorgio Meletti

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 04:17 AM in Economics | Comments (5)
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December 09, 2008

Lehman Brothers: money back!

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Ennio Doris, president of Banca Mediolanum, harangues his financial advisers


Lehman Brothers have gone bust. Was it foreseeable? Could those who sold Lehman shares have avoided proposing them to investors? Can those who bought them get their money back if the information given was elusive or false?
But who sold funds with Lehman shares in Italy? Here are the names: :
- Assimoco Vita
- Aurora Assicurazioni
- Axa Assicurazioni
- Axa Interlife
- BCC Vita
- CNP Capitalia Vita
- CNP Unicredit Vita
- Fondiaria Sai
- Mediolanum International Life
- Mediolanum Vita
- Novara Vita
- Unipol Assicurazioni
- Uniqua previdenza
- Zurich
(the details are on DiariodelWeb).

It is possible to get your money back, as is explained on the Codacons website.
”Often at the moment of purchase, the consumer has not been put in a position to understand the nature of these policies (always written in a hyper-technical and incomprehensible language!) proposed “craftily” as simple plans for savings, that is like for a pension, without mentioning the associated risks – as happened with the indexed policies on Lehman shares.
Luckily, according to the Bersani law (L. 2/04/07, n. 40, art. 5, n. 4) in multi-year insurance contracts, set up before the law came into force, the person insured has the right to pull out of the contract with no penalties (if the contract had been in existence for at least 3 years). If then you are the owner of an insurance policy that is connected to Lehman shares (see the table below, but anyway that does not cover everything) take action straight away to get your money back, even if the policy has not yet run out!....”

Some people have even been advising others to buy the shares, for example the website PattiChiari, up until a few days before, as has been pointed out on the blog on 28 September. The ratings for Lehman have been given by Trimurti: Standard & Poor's, Fitch and Moody's.
For them, Lehman shares were extra safe, and instead it was worse than with Parmalat and Alitalia put together. Wow!
A group of savers has taken Standard & Poor's to Milan’s Civil Tribunal, for the reimbursement of 3.9 million euro for the capital invested in the Lehman shares “for having published false information about the solvency. of the American Bank and for having violated principles and norms of conduct that they were bound to keep.”
Standard & Poor's has made it known that: “Our ratings are opinions about the quality of credit, they are not recommendations to buy or sell....”
Let the Lehman-ited who are online make themselves known, Let them write a comment. I am curious to know how the financial promoters (“The true highlanders”) placed these shares and with what promises.
The blog is available for the Lehman-ited people to put them in touch with each other and so that they can form denunciation groups against the companies that have tricked them.
They will never give up (but is it in their interests?). Neither will we.

- To get your money back, consult the consulta il sito della Codacons site.
- To create a denunciation group, send an email to the blog.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:32 PM in Economics | Comments (1)
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November 29, 2008

Between the Emilia way and the West

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The management of refuse in Emilia Romagna

"The wealthy Bologna that was once agricultural " becomes unemployed, but with a concrete vegetable patch. Now they are importing vegetables. The buffalo of Emilia-Romagna is more bloodthirsty than others elsewhere on the peninsula. When it charges, it really charges. His is always a stampede. He enjoys doing things with others. And he is very scary. Emilia Romagna was once the blackest of Italy’s regions, then it became the reddest.
Change has always begun from there.
The Italian regions have become a mosaic of unemployed people. Meanwhile, Northern Italy has been turned into a concrete jungle by the property developers that get money loaned to them by the banks which, in turn, get more money loaned to them by the Government and, therefore, by the taxpayer.
The psycho(dwarf)peddler of optimism is no longer capable of understanding the difference between consumer faith and consumerism. In his opinion, the optimist must consume, otherwise he is an economic saboteur. Italy became great thanks to the savings accumulated by our fathers and grandfathers in the period following the end of the war. Do you remember “Savings Day”? And the piggy banks? And the savings book into which people used to deposit money to send their children to University? If Italy has not yet failed entirely, it is only thanks to the savings that families managed to keep out the hands of the banks, the financiers and the companies quoted on the Stock Exchange.
Anyone who encourages you to consume is nothing more than a peddler of poverty. Selling a life with no quality.
One blogger has written that: "After the wave of students, now comes the tsunami of unemployment ". Quick, break out the life jackets.
They may never give up (is it in their interests?), but neither will we.
BOLOGNA : 365 retrenchments at the La Perla textile company.
REGGIO EMILIA : 114 employees dismissed by Dual.
MODENA : 48 retrenchments at the Fini foodstuff Group.
IMOLA : 53 layoffs at the Leonardo ceramics plant.
IMOLA : 114 retrenchments at the Cerim Company of Mordano.
FORLIVESE : 100 companies in crisis.
BOLOGNA : 50 layoffs at the Marconigomme plant.
EMILIA : eight thousand more people on unemployment benefits by the end of 2008.
EMILIA : 150 retrenchments at the Post Offices.

Previous postings:
- "La Serenissima" unemployed
- That thing in Lombardy
- The hooves of the bisons


Posted by Beppe Grillo at 02:41 PM in Economics | Comments (0)
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November 27, 2008

Madagascar, Daewoo and neocolonialism

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Daewoo project in Madagascar


What have Madagascar and South Korea got in common? On the face of it, nothing. The former is a country in development, the second is an economic power. One is in Africa, the other in Asia. The Malagasy have uncontaminated land. The Koreans lack cultivatable land. Madagascar has 28 inhabitants per square kilometre. South Korea has 493 inhabitants per square kilometre.
Two countries that are different from each other but that today have Daewoo in common as well as neocolonialism without capital. Tronchetti and Colaninno have been leading the way even abroad.
Once upon a time they gifted necklaces and shining stones to indigenous people in exchange for every type of good. Today not even that.
South Korea needs corn, palm oil and agricultural goods. Madagascar has land. Daewoo signed an agreement with the Malagasy government. The handing over of 1.3 million hectares of cultivatable land for 99 years. More than half the cultivatable land in the country (2.5 million hectares).
It’s all for FREE. In exchange, Daewoo is committed to taking on the Malagasy as peasants.

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Image from The Financial Times


According to Mr Hong, a Daewoo manager: “It is land that is totally not developed, and uncontaminated. And we will provide work and make it cultivatable, and this is good for Madagascar.”
The produce of the 1.3 million hectares from Madagascar will be sent to South Korea for its needs and it is probable that not even a cob of maize will remain for the Malagasy.
Madagascar is part of the World Food Programme from which it receives food for 600,000 people who live at subsistence level. People on the bread line to which can be added thousands of small farmers and their families.

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Destruction of forests in Madagascar - photo Foko -Madagascar


The 1.3 million hectares are mostly forests. They will be destroyed with severe effects on the climate. The Malagasy peasant has his land taken away from him, the food is sent abroad, his environment is destroyed. In exchange he can work for Daewoo. What luck!
Those who have resources have no money. Those who have money, buy resources. But what is money? Where does it come from? Guess. From the resources of those without money.
Africa has the greatest amount of uncultivated fertile land in the world and the greatest number of starving people. There must be a reason.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 09:05 PM in Economics | Comments (7)
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November 22, 2008

"La Serenissima" unemployed

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Epifani obviously reads this blog. That’s a certainty. After having carefully read my articles regarding the fast approaching spate of mass unemployment (two million newly unemployed people) he said: "After careful investigation I can say that an avalanche is on its way here. What we need are some major interventions". Do you hear the sound of bison hooves approaching? They are trampling the prairies of Northern Italy. From West to East.
If it is true that Piemonte is shutting its doors and that Lombardy is facing a storm of dismissals, then the Veneto has been hit by the bubonic plague.
I did a little “investigation” of my own in “La Serenissima” (Venice), which I will forward to Epifani. The bison will arrive in a stampede, a huge disorderly attack. At the moment it is limited to a few fathers of families, sitting without work and out in the street. Men who are perhaps just a little ashamed to look their children in the eye. This is about to change, you’ll see that this will change. They are becoming more aware. No one will be able to stop them. The trade unions have betrayed them, the politicians have used their taxes to increase their own wealth and the media have taken them for a ride.
A bulletin from “La Serenissima”. "The bug infuriates you, the bread is lacking. The white flag flutters on the bridge!"

PADOVANO: one and a half million hours on unemployment benefits in the Padua area.
SCORZE' - TREVISO: 347 workers from Aprilia to be laid off soon.
CASTELFRANCO VENETO - TREVISO: 480 retrenchments at Berco (Thyssen Group).
TREVISO : 390 retrenchments at Osram.
SUSEGANA : 350 jobs at risk at Electrolux.
VERONA :100 retrenchments at Glaxo.
LAVAGNO - VERONA: 114 temporary contracts at risk at the Casamercato Megastore.
MONTEBELLUNA - TREVISO : 250 retrenchments at ACC
PADUA: Hundreds of jobs at risk.
MESTRE - MARGHERA : 1,000 jobs at risk.
VENICE: employment levels crashing.


Previous postings:
That thing in Lombardy
- The bisons' hooves


Posted by Beppe Grillo at 02:39 PM in Economics | Comments (8)
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November 09, 2008

Hooves of the bison

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Eaton closes down in Massa. Workers rebel.


I put my ear to the ground and I hear a noise. It’s getting closer. A rumble, a charge, an outburst. It’s millions of newly unemployed. How many extra will there be in a year’s time? Two million? Three million? With nothing more to lose. The batons will not be able to stop them. They will mow down everything and everyone and they won’t take prisoners. Anyone on their route will be mown down. Colluding Trades Unions, servile journalists, self-referential parties. Topo Gigio’s loft and the psycho-dwarf’s Sardinian villas. Mown down. The Wave of the Students is coming first. After the Wave, comes the Tsunami of work. No one is talking about it. Every day dozens of big and small companies are closing down. Jobs lost for ever. A father of a family without a job, without a lump sum handshake, with nothing. What alternatives does he have? He goes home and looks at his children and nothing has more importance for him. The army will have to take control of the supermarkets first and then the offices of the parties straight away after that.
From today I am collecting evidence about “lost jobs”. I’m starting with Motorola in Turin and I’ll soon pop in there. They will never give up (but would it be worth it?). Neither will we.

Dear Beppe,
Thank you for talking about Motorola. As you have said we are among the first examples of this crisis that is sweeping across the world and that will soon destroy our country too. Everything has happened so suddenly. Thursday morning we were slaving away for mother Motorola. Many of us were even working the weekend so that the production is finished on time. All useless effort given that in a simple announcement, the president of the Mobile section declared the immediate end of the product range that we were working on. Immediately after that an email told us there was a meeting on Monday morning with the Motorola boss responsible for the EMEA region. Many people fell into a state of anxiety. While many were still optimistic. The worst thing happened between Friday and Monday when Motorola together with the directors left us literally alone at the mercy of the press: “Motorola, the end of a dream, 300 researchers at risk – At Motorola three hundred at risk”, I read in the press at three o’clock in the morning of Saturday. Then when we got to Monday morning when, as I said, they gave us good service after telling us that we are among the best, that we are an excellent centre, but that we are not needed any more…. And lots of greetings and good bye. But we meanwhile knew before the press. Anyway, they made out that we are thieves saying that Motorola had already removed all the boxes from the building to avoid theft. And loads and loads of other rubbish written by lying journalists who should be sweeping Turin’s streets…
The moral of the fairy story is that there are 370 engineers plus about a hundred consultants, all out of a job … without social security … without anything. Many of us have families … Now given that we are on our own I’m wondering whether you Beppe could come and visit us… - to encourage us… I am certain that we will welcome you with open arms… - Warm greetings” Marco

Read the article on the job losses at Motorola.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 09:07 PM in Economics | Comments (4)
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November 03, 2008

The new P2 and the old Red Brigades

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Licio Gelli: "Only Berlusconi can go ahead ..."


Licio Gelli: ''If the Red Brigades were to come back there would be even more slaughter: the ground is very fertile as the Red Brigades could find many followers because of the poverty existing in the country.” Is this a warning to all shipping? To the P2, PDL, PDminusL and organized crime?
Gelli is right. The ground is VERY fertile. There are two reasons for this: the economy that will cut our country to shreds in 2009 with millions of new unemployed. The impossibility of controlling information in relation to the years of lead. At that time, Pecorelli was killed and they were in peace for a decade. Today it would be necessary to muzzle the Internet. They will try, but perhaps it is too late. perhaps it is too difficult
A lot of people, a stream of young people, know everything about Dell'Utri and Andreotti, the convict and the “prescritto”, Senators of the Republic (once it was a title of honour, now it gives you the shivers). The couple were guests of the programme "Venerabile Italia" presented by Gelli on Odeon TV. The young people know who Gelli is. They know about the infiltration by the Secret Services in the State massacres. They know about the activity to set the investigators on the wrong track, put into operation by Gelli in the Bologna slaughter, 85 dead and 200 injured, with the definitive verdict of the High Court.
The comedy of the white truck in Piazza Navona and Cossiga’s words are indicators of a new “strategy of tension”. New because there are no longer parties against parties. But citizens against politicians. Will the stadia be enough? They will have to interrupt the football championship to lock up the demonstrators. The Red Brigades will not come back. However the citizens who are angry and without work are ready. When they realize that they no longer have anything to lose, who will be able to stop them? Gelli knows that. His best pupils from the psycho-dwarf to Cicchitto, are in government. It’s as though he were there. In fact he has asked for the copyright on the “Piano di Rinascita Democratica” {plan of democratic rebirth}. The others are taking the credit while he is confined to Villa Wanda with his tatty overalls.
Prevention is better than cure. The army in the streets is becoming a habit, like in Colombia. Anyway, Italy is the world aircraft carrier of cocaine. The informed citizen is an angry citizen. The informed and unemployed citizen can become a freedom terrorist. To disinform and employ at the same time is a difficult equation to resolve. The P2 in government is working at this, day and night. Time flies and perhaps in a bit, so too will the P2-ists. They will never give up, neither will we.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 05:19 PM in Economics | Comments (1)
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October 17, 2008

The Mediaset Takeover Bid

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Emilio Fede on Roberto Saviano


The psycho-dwarf has raised the alarm for the companies that are at risk of a takeover bid.
The takeover bid is an offer aimed at buying financial products.
If the shares of a company are worth a little or nothing, then to start a takeover bid is cheap, you offer a figure greater than the quoted value of the shares and you gather up the shares from the market until you have got the majority.
The shareholders who prefer the egg today rather than the (possible) chicken tomorrow can sell their shares (and usually they do that) to the one behind the takeover bid and get a cash benefit that is much higher than they are worth.
To take a casual example, the psycho-dwarf’s Mediaset is at risk of a takeover bid. Yesterday its value on the Stock Exchange was 3.990 euro a share. That’s 41.11% lower than in 2008.
From the beginning of 2007, Mediaset has gone down from 9.501 euro to 3.990 euro. If a year ago you needed to pay 100 to buy the shares, today they cost 40. A bargain.
A takeover bid for Mediaset would produce numerous benefits. The Office of the President of the Council and in the future that of the Republic. To remove from our hair Emilio Fede and Paolo Liguori and Clemente Mimun. Gain a mass of wealth thanks to the advertising revenue coming through Publitalia. Limitless official press releases.
And not just that. There would be true information. Travaglio director of TV News. Saviano special envoy (and not emigrated abroad). Dario Fo responsible for culture.
What would it cost us to get liberated from Tar Head’s straitjacket? Not much. You would just need to find who has the money to put forward.
There are all the prerequisites to launch a takeover bid. I need industrial partners. The BBC for example. I am available for the communication of a public auction. On one condition: to share out and publicise the programming structure and the presenters before the takeover bid.
I’m waiting for a telephone call, a fax, an email. No time-wasters.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:25 AM in Economics | Comments (2)
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October 13, 2008

Geronzi means trust

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Travaglio on Geronzi


If our banking system is solid, we owe it above all to Antonio Fazio.” Who said that? Cesare Geronzi two days ago.
Anyone in the companies who makes a mistake must pay for it. And it is not possible that no one ever pays: both when the director shows they are not up to the job and when they are on trial.” Who said that? Giulio Tremonti, Minister of the Economy (how long ago?), two days ago.
Geronzi, 72 years old, is involved in numerous judicial cases (the following is translated from the Italian version of Wikipedia)
- Parmalat - Eurolat: Within the overall trial for the Parmalat collapse he is under investigation for aggravated usury and collaboration in fraudulent bankruptcy. According to the charge against him Geronzi is alleged to have forced Tanzi to take on the Ciappazzi company, belonging to the Ciarrapico group. The investment is thought to have been financed by Capitalia with usurious interest rates. For the Eurolat side, Geronzi was sent for trial for extortion and company bankruptcy on 5 April 2008. According to the charge, Geronzi obliged Tanzi to buy Eurolat, a company in Sergio Cragnotti’s Cirio group, at an inflated price, threatening to put an end to the bank overdrafts. The trial documents were transferred from Parma to Rome on 20 June because the crime in the charge (extortion in relation to the sale of Eurolat by Cirio to Parmalat) is alleged to have taken place in Rome.
- Cirio collapse: the banker is under investigation for fraud in relation to the issue and placing of Cirio “bonds” through Capitalia.
- Italcase collapse: Geronzi convicted at the first level for bankruptcy and sentenced to 1 year and 8 months plus the prohibition on having the position of director in any company for two years.
- Telecom case: tax fraud operated by the Luxembourg company Bell (controlled by Emilio Gnutti’ s merchant bank Hopa, that also has participation from Geronzi).

Cesare Geronzi is head of the supervisory committee of Mediobanca, the investment bank at the centre of the Italian banking system. With his CV he should be elsewhere. Writing his memories or preparing his defence with his lawyers.
How much have the Parmalat, Cirio, and Italcase shareholders lost? How much has Geronzi had to pay? Why is he untouchable? Matteo Arpe, CEO of Capitalia, has been pushed out and now the same end is happening to Profumo, CEO of Unicredit, because he crossed his path. Why? Why is he rewarded instead of being sent away?
He and the psycho-dwarf are the same age, both great frequenters of courtrooms. They have been helping each other for 20 years, since the time of thepossible collapse of Mediaset . In Mediobanca, thanks to Geronzi, two thoroughbred horses have arrived: Marina Berlusconi, member of the board of directors, and the unhappy Tronchetti, as vice president.
Mediobanca is the heart of Italian financial and economic life. It is in the hands of Geronzi, the psycho-dwarf and Tronchetti, folk who have contributed to the economic disaster that is about to overwhelm us. And the citizens have been asked to give their trust to the banks… Without shame.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 12:05 PM in Economics | Comments (0)
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October 10, 2008

Mattress Banks

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New professions

A bank is useful for making money go round, lending to private individuals, to companies. If it’s not lending that’s because it doesn’t have it or because it doesn’t trust them. Right now both hypotheses are true. There’s little money and above all there’s no trust. Banks have become mattresses. They keep the money in-house and they don’t lend to anyone anymore, and particularly not to the other banks. If they were to fail then they would lose the cash. The banks are doing what they tell us off for, as current account holders (putting savings under the mattress). They are not giving overdrafts to anyone. They don’t trust anyone. It’s the politics of suspicion.
In turn the clients are becoming suspicious. And they are moving money from the banks to the State Bonds. This is why Tremonti can participate in the ownership of the banks with the “Save the banks” decree: with the capital in flight from the banks that’s transformed into BOT and CCT. Basically it’s a merry-go-round of accounts. More State and less market, more Berlusconi and Geronzi and less Profumo and Passera.
The companies are being economically throttled. The banks are no longer giving them credit and this, in Italy, means the end.
The businesses, especially the small ones, are obliged to support themselves on debt because of the State. Every time they issue an invoice they have to pay the sales tax up front. The invoices are paid, if all goes well, at 120 -160 days. If things don’t go well, never. And the sales tax is reimbursed by the State in biblical time frames. The businesses have to pay presumed taxes and in advance. The mafia is a hundred times more correct. If a society has a certain profit in a year, it has to pay taxes on the profit, in advance, even for the following year. And if the following year it has a loss?
The businesses get into debt because of the State and they have to turn to the banks. If these don’t give them credit, the businesses close down. It’s what is happening and that will happen in the next few months for hundreds of thousands of businesses. Large, medium small, and family-run. They will no longer pay taxes, they will have gone under.
The State can’t ask for money in advance for the sales tax, nor for tax on profits.
There’s tax when the citizen gets cash. They don’t have to pay before that. With what money? If Tremonti has problems, let him get money from the banks. Alternatively let him buy a mattress with springs. Permaflex, like those that Gelli sold to his boss, Tar Head.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 09:17 AM in Economics | Comments (1)
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October 09, 2008

Banks and scurrilous politics

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"People and Power", Al Jazeera. Report on Beppe Grillo and the V-Days


If I walk along the street people stop me and use me as a financial consultant. They have read my posts on the economy and they treat me like a prophet. I am just a book-keeper. Basically economics is simple. The disaster was in front of our eyes, we knew it. Those in Italy who were in key positions couldn’t not know. The problem is that they kept quiet and got on with other things. On 8 July in Piazza Navona, I spoke about the economy, of the risks it was running. The newspapers and the TV channels reported the serious and unheard of offences against Napolitano whom I called Morpheus. Read the speech. Among other things, I said:
”We have one of the biggest public debts in the world: 1,647 billion euro. Each year it increases by 80 billion for the interest. Just in March we paid 23 billion in interest on the debt. In 2008, 300,000 companies will close. 300,000! And the other small companies are in the hands of the banks with debts that arrive at 780 billion euro. It’s not just the State that will go bust. The banks will ….”
I, a comic derided by the politicians and the servant journalists, was talking about economics while they were devoting themselves to:
- Fingerprinting the Roma people
- Lodo Alfano
- Abolition of wiretaps
- RAI Surveillance Committee
- Alitalia (already sold months earlier to Air France)
- Law to block trials
- Abolition of ICI tax
- Prostitutes in the streets
- Rete4.
The one who is taking us to the edge of the abyss must take a step forward and throw himself down. Veltrusconi, basically it’s worth it, it’s better to do it on your own rather than wait to be thrown.
Banks and politics are the same thing. If a banker at the head of the biggest bank, perhaps the most solid and well endowed in the country refuses to give succor to Telecom by paying it 2.8 euro when it was worth 1.5 or to enter into the farce of saving Alitalia, then he needs educating. If then the same banker is more than once in confrontation with Geronzi, the chairman of the supervisory board of Mediobanca, then Profumo must be punished. Unicredit with its share value plummeting, perhaps nationalized. “So that I can eat you better, Italia mia”. PS: The end of the line is coming. I repeat: The end of the line is coming.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:54 AM in Economics | Comments (3)
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October 07, 2008

Yankees Go Home

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L'avidità funziona - "Wall Street", 1987


Everyone is worried about what will happen. The banks no longer trust the banks. They don’t lend money to each other any more. The poison introduced into the world financial system by the toxic made-in-USA products is producing its effects.
No one in the world can say how much is the quantity of the American poison and where it can be found. The SEC, the FED, the Bush government, the Secretary of the Treasury, Paulson where have they been in the last few years? While their nation was the bastion of liberty, it was exporting cannons and CDO and subprimes, and financial products based on unrecoverable debts. They knew, these bastards that they were unrecoverable.
Shit introduced into funds and derivatives that will produce tens of millions of unemployed, of homeless, of desperate savers. The American public debt is the highest on the planet, the United States consumes a third of the resources of the Earth, but there are only 300 million of them out of 6.7 billion. To stay on their feet they have to control the world economy with finance and with weapons. The United States spends 500 billion dollars EVERY YEAR for weapons, for the hundreds of military bases spread out over the world, from Japan to Cuba to Vicenza. The second nation for military spending is Great Britain with 59 billion dollars, almost a tenth, and Putin’s Russia follows with 35.

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Plan B 3.0, Lester Brown

The world is paying for the value of the dollar, the 500 billion dollars for weapons. The United States faced with this financial disaster should do like the defeated Nazi Germany obliged to pay the debts of war and to pay a PEACE dividend to the nations that it brought to their knees.
Between Saddam and Bush, who has done more damage? More dead? The former was executed by the latter who meanwhile also executed the world economy. By whom was Bush elected? By American finance, by the National Rifle Association, the organisation that promotes the arms industry, by the oil barons. In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell, in October 2008, the Wall Street Wall fell together with the delirium of globalization governed by those who gained from it The USSR no longer exists. The United States, for now still exists and they are explaining to us the economy, finance and freedom. They are dealing with protecting us, they make our banks collapse, our Stock Exchanges. Yankees Go Home , with your arms, your atomic weapons, your creative finance.
I don’t believe that the banks will go bust, but this is not the real danger. In a few months, the collapse of finance will be transferred to the real economy, to production. In the spring no one will be thinking about shares or bank accounts but of jobs, and of getting to the end of the month.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 09:18 PM in Economics | Comments (23)
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September 25, 2008

What will be, will be Saràs

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Click on the image


I wrote about “MM”, Massimo Moratti in the blog on 23 April 2007, 17 months ago.
” Every so often his big brother Gianmarco asks him to sign the transfers. People trust him and his good Bugs Bunny appearance. And that’s how it’s been even for Saras on the Stock Exchange. The Morattis have pocketed 1,700,000,000 euro. They needed that to strengthen the team. The share was quoted at 6 euro at the time there was the collapse in the energy market. Anyone buying lost 12% in a single day. … Summary: someone decides that the price of 6 euro is right. Savers believe, buy, and lose. The Morattis and the banks gain and the prosecutors investigate. Where was Consob? Cardia shed light.”

“MM” mutters about court actions against me and I have no news of them. The ones I have already are quite enough.
Seventeen months after the post “Without stealing”, on 23 September 2008, the technical consultant of the Milan Prosecutors Office described the Saras operation in 400 pages.
The consultant, as reported in La Repubblica: “put forward the hypothesis that the cashing in of the quotation was useful above all for one branch of the family, that of Massimo Moratti, to tackle Inter’s debts. With the resulting damage to the market of 770 million euro.”
So basically the shares were quoted at a price that was much higher than their value. The Morattis and the banks pocketed the money. Anyone who bought lost 770 million euro.
The banks offered precious help for the placing of the shares. The emails impounded by the magistracy:
- “It is vital that in front of the price there is a 6”, Federico Imbert, Jp Morgan
- “You have to know that we have obtained 1.6 billion euro, that is from both the brothers, but one of the two must repay 500 million in debts, so that part we won’t see for a long time” Emilio Saracco, Jp Morgan
- “I had a long talk with Miccichè from Intesa. He is pleased with the work done together on Saras and Intercos. He is personally available to motivate the sales team especially on Saras. He asks us to inform him if we foresee problems or upsets. He is obviously very keen to see success given the exposure of himself and Passera with the Morattis. Galeazzo Pecori Girali of Morgan Stanley has been to visit him and advised him not to exaggerate with the price. He believes that he is doing that because he is jealous of us.” Federico Imbert, Jp Morgan.
What will be, will be Saràs …:
- Moratti, pockets 1.6 billion euro
- Jp Morgan, pockets 26,7 million euro
- Banca Caboto, pockets 18 million euro
- Morgan Stanley, pockets 20,9 million euro
- Shareholders lose: 770 million euro.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:17 PM in Economics | Comments (0)
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September 18, 2008

PattiChiari, Empty Pockets

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Lehman brothers


What is an economic journalist? It is a strange being. A person working for the press talking about the companies that advertise in the newspaper for which he writes. A Nostradamus of the day after who foresees the collapse after it has happened. One who executes the orders of the editor who in his turn executes the orders of the shareholders.
The economic journalists write articles full of doubts. Let’s take an example, “If this happens then… If this were to happen then.. and perhaps, who knows…” The first rule of journalism is that if you have an item of news you have to give it out. The economic journalist does the opposite. If he has an item of news, he keeps it to himself. In Italy, there are different political journalists who denounce corruption and mafias, from Travaglio to Abbate, from Saviano to Gomez. But there’s no trace of economic journalists who stand out. Why not?
Parmalat and Cirio, the Tango Bonds and the swindle of the “variable mortgages” (the banks sold them knowing that they would explode), the shares of Telecom Italia that disintegrated , the unrecoverable debts (the sub-prime) sold as bonds and the stocks in Lehman Brothers on the road to collapse considered to be low risk the day before. The economic journalists know the facts. Months before. But their mouths remain sewn up.
The banks possess quotas of newspapers. It should be forbidden by law. That Profumo, Passera or Geronzi sell money, not information and in particular if that information is that of the PattiChiari.
”PattiChiari is a consortium of 167 Italian banks with 26 thousand cash desks (84% of the whole Italian banking system) promoted by the Banking Association. Its aim is to offer simple and modern tools that let you have a better understanding of the financial products. The philosophy of the project is in fact that of constructing a new relationship between the banks and the citizens, the families and the companies, based on greater trust and a dialogue that is clear, understandable and transparent.”
A reader has told me about “the project philosophy” of PattiChiari.

Ciao Beppe,
At times, reality is at a higher level than the fantasy of the most creative comics. Today I have received an email from some friends who work in the banking sector with links that I indicate below and I wanted to tell you about this. I don’t know to what extent they noticed but on the site www.pattichiari.it,and specifically on this page, there are certain bonds that are so-called “low risk” – those of Lehman Brothers! I didn’t want to believe it, and I had to reread it four or five times, especially the piece that I have copied and pasted:
” PattiChiari proposes a list that you can look at of low risk bonds and thus they have a low return, this list is constantly updated, to help you if you have no financial experience and you intend to invest in shares that are particularly simple to evaluate.”
That is, a person who has no financial experience who has listened to their advice, great experts, has just found themselves with a handful of waste paper just like the situation for Argentina and Parmalat.
The “Great Experts” today have published a note to this page which says “Today, all the Lehman Brothers shares have come off the Pattichiari List “Low Risk Low Return Bonds” following the communication by this company that they want to lodge an application for bankruptcy. (Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code)."
Beppe, now there is not even the need for you to put them in the stocks, anyway they have revealed themselves on their own! Greetings” Gerolamo

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 09:24 PM in Economics | Comments (9)
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September 03, 2008

The battle for wheat

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If the wars of the day after tomorrow will be fought for water, the wars of tomorrow will be for food. Wheat, rice, corn, soya. Revolts and attacks on bakers have already happened in many countries, from Egypt to Indonesia, from the Philippines to India. The harvests are becoming more important than petrol. It’s better to die while you are still, than to die of hunger while you are moving.
The over-populated states are moving on the world chess board and buying up cultivatable land. China in Brazil, Laos, Kazakhstan and Tanzania. India in Uruguay and Paraguay. South Korea in Sudan and in Siberia. Egypt in Ukraine. In parallel, a new protectionism is being created, that of the starving hungry. The States that don’t produce enough food resources for their own population are blocking exports or are increasing the customs duties. It’s human nature. The price of foodstuffs is going up at a mad speed in the whole world, thanks also to financial speculators. It’s the economy.
The mechanism that has started to act is hellish. One State, for example, China, is increasing the number of mouths to be fed while it is destroying cultivatable land. In China in 2005 the expropriation of land from the farmers increased by 15 times in relation to 10 years earlier. Land that has been transformed into residential and industrial zones. Less land, less food, more Chinese. The equation is resolved by buying more land for food elsewhere. In the countries where, for now, they can allow themselves to export agricultural produce. But even in these countries, the population is increasing, the land for food production is decreasing, because of building speculation and bio fuels, and water for irrigation is scarce. What will happen when the Brazilians see their corn disappearing and they have no daily bread? Any government would not last a week and the lands sold to foreigners would be nationalized. The lighted match would be in the hands of China and its armaments.
China is the prime world producer of cereals and rice. Once upon a time it was exporting. In 2007, China produced 501.5 million tons of wheat and the Chinese consumed 510 million. According to the FAO, in 1985 the Chinese ate 20 Kilo of meat each, in 2018 that’ll go up to 70 Kilo. To produce meat you need cereal and land. China imports already today, 60% of the soya that it needs.
If the top world producer has to import, the others, like Italy, what will they have to do? Seen from above, our country seems like a building nightmare. It is disappearing under the cement. The priority must be self-sufficiency in food, not the parking lots and the incinerators.
PS. A word of advice: create your own kitchen garden on your balcony or in a tiny piece of land.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 07:55 PM in Economics | Comments (7)
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August 05, 2008

Cash from Brussels

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Each year the Italians pay taxes even to give about 13 billion euro to the European Community. This money finishes up in a common fund. About 8 or 9 billion returns to Italy. That’s called help from the European Community, but it’s our money. That escapes from any control by the government. The one signing for the destination of the funds is an unknown official in Brussels. The billions destined for works that are usually not brought to fruition or are useless or not even spent (but pocketed). The euros returning finish up on the whole in Campania, in Calabria, in Sicily. But the people of Campania, of Calabria, or of Sicily don’t see the positive effects. This flow of uncontrolled money feeds criminality, the undergrowth of politics, the exchange votes. And all in the light of day, but it’s all hidden. Like the best traditions of our country. Once upon a time, there was the “Cassa del Mezzogiorno”, today there is the “Cassa di Bruxelles” {Brussels Cash}. The blog, as soon as it can, will give an account of the spending and will publish it. The Italians need to know where their taxes go, who spends the money and what it’s used for. The Internet has exactly this function.

”I’m an American, from Apulia. I’m in advertising and I’m outraged. That’s why I will never participate any more in the Italian public competitions for communications.
These are the facts: on 14 December 2007, the Region of Apulia published a competition announcement for the communication and promotion of its territory in Italy and in the world. The money offered is not a mean amount. 7 million euro! And as it is money from the European Community, it has all to be spent, as is very clear in the competition announcement, in the two years 2007 to 2008.
And already here, I who am American, perhaps naïve and perhaps an idealist, identify the first anomaly. Where I live, if someone receives public financing and they say that he has to spend it in a certain way, he does it. It would be as if my doctor tells me that in order to get better from my illness I have to take a certain medicine for two years, and I decide to take the medicine only in the second year but two at a time.
I have an advertising agency in New York and one in Italy and lots of agencies belonging to our group in the main countries of Europe. I am an American citizen and I’m an Italian resident. My family has its origins in Apulia. I know, respect and love Apulia. How could I not have participated in this tender? So, together with my partners and with the agencies of our international system, we set to work: strategies, creativity, numbers, ideas and documents. So much paper, hundreds of sheets, millions of sheets!
On 11 February 2008 the tender period closed and 7 companies apart from us, present their proposals. I’m thinking, may the best one win. And here is the second anomaly. I discover that in the competition there are not just advertising and communications agencies, but also groups of publishers and TV networks from Apulia. Strange, isn’t it? Where I come from, communications are done by communications agencies. It’s as though to promote the sale of my ice creams in the bars of the whole world, I ask the bar under my apartment to create the campaign. But let’s get to the third anomaly. It’s February. Summer is getting closer and the proposals sleep in the drawers of the Region, under a warm layer of dust. The months slip by and my astonishment grows. How is it possible, I ask from New York to my colleagues in Italy. They lost last season, they wouldn’t want to lose this one as well? Yes. They want to lose this one too.
Today, 20 July 2008, the contract to promote Apulia in the two years 2007 – 2008 has not yet been assigned. After the opening of the final envelopes, the classification causes some perplexity and strange shadows hover over the certainty of its assigning. And guess who is in top position? “The bar under my apartment” To say, without giving offence, the local company.
I don’t know whether it will be made official the allocation of the budget, but I know that to spend 7 million euro in TV advertising, press releases, radio advertising, flyers and brochures, all in a handful of weeks at the end of the year is an offence to common sense. And for what then? To attract to Apulia skiers and those in all the world who love winter sports?
Here are my conclusions: I participated knowing that I could win. But also putting into the calculations that I could lose. We have not lost. It’s worse. We were excluded for a vice of form. We were about to appeal because our lawyer said that the reasons for our exclusion do not exist. I have stopped everything and I have decided to write this letter. I am not interested in being an accomplice in this waste of money. I am interested in denouncing it. I am doing it as an outraged American publicist, as a proud Italian resident, as an injured person from Apulia. And I am asking why does no one make his voice heard? Does the European Community have nothing to say when it sees how its money is used? And does the Italian association of advertisers not feel the need to defend their professionalism? I know that when I open the American newspapers I will see advertising about other regions of Italy. And I also know that the next time I land at Fiumicino, Rome’s airport I will see massive advertisement for Sicily, Tuscany etc. And I will laugh when I arrive at Bari Palese and as always, there will be big posters promoting tourism in Apulia. As usual the money will be well spent! OK. It’s said and it’s done. I accept the responsibility for my gesture. And I send good wishes to the TV networks and to the publishing houses who united together in a temporary association of companies, will see themselves being allocated the contract. Waiting for them, there are a handful of weeks of hard work! To produce the campaign and to broadcast it on their networks. So at least the people of Apulia next year will choose to go on holiday in Apulia.” Paul Cappelli
Founder and President The Ad Store International, New York

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 08:46 PM in Economics | Comments (9)
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August 04, 2008

Telecom. Arriba Espana!

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Security Telecom Italia. Tronchetti Provera, Tavaroli
Click on the image


In May 2007, Intesa San Paolo, Mediobanca, Generali and Telefonica got rid of the unhappy Tronchetti and they bought the controlling package of Telecom for an exorbitant value. In July 2007, I wrote “Telecom shares are worth a bit more than 2 euro. The Piave line, the K2 of the analysts, is about to be breached. After that there’s the unknown. It’s nothing new. When Tronchetti demanded and got 2.9 euro per share, it was known to be an “ad personam” value. To get rid of him with a golden handshake. The industrial forecast for the share was between 1.5 and 1.7 euro.”
I was being an optimist.
Today Telecom shares are worth about 1.1 euro. K2 has been transformed into K1. The threshold of the euro is near. And after that?
If the shareholders cry (one or two have lost nearly everything). The bondholders are trembling. The Telecom debt, turned upside down in part onto those who own bonds, is 46 billion euro. Bernabè, the new CEO has denied there’ll be the sale of Telecom Italia to Telefonica, perhaps he would do it (or he would have to do it) willingly given the disastrous financial situation, but the government cannot allow itself to lose other Italian companies.
The decrease in value for the shareholders and for the System of Italy has been impressive under the Tronchetti/Buora management, allowed to go with millionaire golden handshakes, paid for years with salaries higher than the European companies in the sector.
Before the final crash, the Knock Out, it’s useful to ask a few questions:
- Who will compensate the Banca Intesa San Paolo, Mediobanca and General shareholders for having purchased Telecom shares at at least double their value? Everyone knew and they didn’t? The companies in the controlling group will have to devalue their shares by a few hundred million. Their patrimony will be worth less, their shares will be worth less. Who will pay for an out-of-market choice?
- The situation in which Bernabè found Telecom was (and is) dramatic. A plan to sack the staff is already underway, at least 10,000 (in relation to this, is Napoletone also included?) Telecom should take it out on the previous administrators, even for the vertical drop in Telecom’s image due to the wire-tapping. Will it happen?
- Telecom Italia cannot do it on its own. The white knight is called Telefonica. If there is a takeover bid, will it be the usual folk to gain? Only those who possess the controlling package, Benetton included, or even the small shareholders who represent the majority of the ownership? What will the Consob do?
Arriba Espana!

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 09:46 PM in Economics | Comments (6)
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July 17, 2008

Fannie and Freddie

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Queues of Indy Mac savers
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Fannie and Freddie are two credit institutions in the United States. They sell mortgages on property. They are like Ginger and Fred but they don’t dance on a film set. They dance on the brink of crashing. Their shares have fallen in the month of July.
If Fannie and Freddie were to go bankrupt they would leave a hole of 5000 billion dollars, half the American Public Debt. The State should intervene and nationalize them with an automatic increase in the cost of money and in taxes. In Italy it is as though there were the bankruptcy of most of the companies quoted on the Stock Exchange all at the same time. Fannie must pay back 216 billion dollars within a year, Freddie a bit more than that, about 291 billion. The money’s not there. For two reasons. The mortgage repayments are no longer being paid and no one is underwriting the new mortgages. Basically the property market has disappeared.
People no longer have money and the cost of money has gone up. Furthermore, the value of houses has collapsed and the banks are full of mortgaged houses. In the stomach of the banks’ balance sheets there are still properties with values that go back to before the “subprime” crisis. The banks don’t want to devalue, some can’t allow themselves to do so, their share values would collapse. Fannie and Freddie represent a financial tsunami that in one way or another will arrive here. The prices of property in Italy are drugged by a cartel of property companies. The city centres are no longer for habitation but for making money. The price of apartments has no connection with reality. The property companies for some time have been in a strange media silence, losing their value on the Stock Market. Since January 2008 the top 9 companies in the sector lost 2.4 billion euro, about half of their capitalization. Pirelli Real Estate, a bit more than the average: 57.82%. The fall in the property market had already happened in part. Anyone who had a one Euro share at Christmas finds themselves with 50 cents before the holidays.
The value of houses is kept high artificially. The big cities are invaded by “For sale” and “To Let” signs and meanwhile new homes in the outskirts are still being built.
The astonishing thing is that the true crisis has not yet arrived. In the United States there are about 90 banks risking collapse. One of them, Indy Mac, closed on Friday. The third most important collapse in the United States since the war. The queues of people who were taking out their savings are an image of the situation.
A bit of advice: don’t buy property; don’t do debts; don’t take out new mortgages; if you can, pay off the mortgages that you have; don’t buy shares in property companies; don’t buy funds with shares in property companies. Fannie and Freddie are arriving.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:12 AM in Economics | Comments (25)
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July 07, 2008

The castle of cards

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The Italian castle of cards is about to collapse. It could well happen during next autumn. Many companies and many jobs are about to fall, together with the leaves. The castle was built up, one membership card on top of another, over a period of more than twenty years. Italy has been totally drained from within. All that remains is a pile of playing cards. The Country is no longer able to stand up on its own. The results of twenty years of American-inspired recession, financial fraud ranging from futures to below-prime interest rates, the cost of money and the increase in the price of crude oil and raw materials are all huffing and puffing at the door. Those that are still in good health may yet recover, but those already suffering from bronchial pneumonia, like Italy, will end up either in hospital or at the undertaker’s.
Italian companies are fast disappearing, as if it were a species under threat of extinction. The manufacturing sector is becoming like a desert as a result of the greenhouse effect of the political parties and lobby groups. 245,843 companies closed their doors for the last time in 2007. 22.5% of all small and medium-sized companies are increasingly at risk thanks to rising crude oil prices. The large companies are even worse off. Telecom Italia may well be forced to terminate some 20,000 people, Alitalia another 8,000, while Fiat could fire any number of people that they may choose, at will. The total number of jobs at risk now stands at 300,000. Those companies that are managing to hold on for dear life are falling ever deeper into debt. They are managing to survive purely thanks to their debt with the banks, which, by the end of 2007, had reached a staggering figure of some 780 billion Euro, having increased by 72.4% in just seven years.
The situation is extremely serious, but not yet critical. Italians earn amongst the lowest salaries in the whole of Europe, while the cost of their services, everything from telephone services through to highway toll fees are, on average, amongst the highest in Europe. Temporary employment has become the norm, and is now estimated to involve some six million jobs. Our Parliamentarians, on the other hand, enjoy higher salaries than do most of their European counterparts and, on top of it all, they elect members from amongst themselves. The industrialists have managed to privatise the entire Country, with some help from the political parties, and they are now busy sharing out the dividends earned from the basic services provided to the citizens, including everything from the provision of water, to electricity and onwards to refuse removal.
Italy is already now living with a wartime economy. In the near future, our soldiers will be guarding the banks instead of the waste disposal sites. All that the psychodwarf is concerned about are his personal legal matters. But the real emergency is this Country’s economy. A salary at the end of each month. Italy is somewhat like a hot-air balloon that is plummeting to earth. What we really need to do is to jettison any excess baggage and eliminate any unnecessary costs. Italy has some four million public servants, which is more than the entire population of Ireland. Our companies need to be freed from the bleeding wound of taxes and compulsory advance payments. Law No. 30 must be abolished. Let those Regions that really wish to become independent do so using their own revenues, otherwise they should simply break away from the very same Italy that is currently supporting them.
The politicians continue to waffle, but the castle of cards will soon fall and the Italians will once again be looking for a suitable scapegoat, as they have always done throughout the course of History.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:41 AM in Economics | Comments (0)
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July 04, 2008

There’s a letter for you (Telecom sacking)

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The Telecom letters saying you are sacked are arriving. 5000 straight away and 10,000 to follow. An office worker has sent us his letter. It’s subject is “Dismissal to reduce personnel – art.24 of law n.223/1991”. The letter specifies that Telecom “intends to start the “mobility procedures” for 5,000 workers that are in excess of its technical-organisational needs”.
The letter is a showcase of bureaucracy, sub-articles, articles, laws, and arrangements that have a single meaning: “You are sacked. Your family can no longer count on your salary.”
Telecom gives 3 reasons for your sacking:
1 “on the technological side, from the simplification of the production processes that have had an impact on the functions of specialist support, as well as on the provisioning activities of the network and of services, with the consequent need to rationalize the address and government structures and the territorial ones.”
2 “for the market structures, from the recomposition of the activities and the responsibilities of the positions in the functions of the company (for example the pre- and post-sales, and the commercial programming), the significant reduction in the profitability in the more traditional business, of the progressive defocalisation of the outbound activities and in the simplification of back end activities.”
3 “for the Staff functions, from the need to rationalize the company structures connected to the completion of the company and organizational merging of Telecom Italia S.p.A and TIM S.p.A., as well as the integration of the central staff with the staff of the former Operations and Corporate”.
The former Telecom employee will thus be able to explain to his children that he has been sacked for “progressive defocalisation of the outbound activities and in the simplification of back end activities.” Or alternatively for “simplification of the production processes that have had an impact on the provisioning activities of the network and of services”.
The children will be able to ask if these are the only reasons or whether the company has been plundered with the sale of the productive parts of the company, of buildings, of foreign investment to give dividends to Tronchetti and stock options to Buora, and Ruggiero and salaries among the highest in Europe to the trusted directors and to the members of the Board of Directors. The children could ask why the one who has put their family out into the streets has been rewarded with millions of euro as a golden handshake instead of being taken to court by Telecom.
It’s well known that children, that youngsters are naïve. They are “pezzi 'e core” as they say in Naples. They would never be able to understand the strategies of Tronchetti-the-unhappy and perhaps because their parent is crying in secret.
Once more I’m inviting the sacked Telecom employees to participate in the initiative of class action against the former administrators.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:40 AM in Economics | Comments (11)
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June 21, 2008

Long nights and accounts in the red

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What would happen if your apartment building manager were to spend one million Euro on unplanned expenses without first discussing it with the apartment owners? And what would happen if he passed the one million Euro of debt onto the community by levying taxes? In such a situation you should be asking yourself two things: why can the Manager simply go ahead and spend money that he does not have? Why must the community foot the bill? This is, however, what is happening on a daily basis with our local mayors at our local municipalities. The more you go ahead and spend money that you don’t have, the more votes you will garner in the next election campaign. If James Bond was licensed to kill, then Topo Gigio Veltroni and his colleagues are licensed to spend.
The General Accounts Department of the State has discovered a black hole in the Rome Municipality’s financial accounts. Between accumulated debts of 8,151 million Euro as at the end of 2007, financial market loans, completion costs for the Underground train service, off-balance sheet debts and debts incurred by para-statal companies, the Capitoline municipality has amassed debts to the tune of 10,709 million. A veritable Roman K2. Technically speaking, the Rome Municipality is bankrupt because it is physically unable to pay its employees.
Marco Causi, Councillor in charge of Financial Accounts during Veltroni’s two terms in office stated that: “We didn’t hide bugger all. In 2001 we inherited a heavy debt load, equivalent to 6.1 billion in fact, aggravated by the investments made in order to finish construction on the new Undergorund train services. It’s all a bluff”. In other words then 60% of the blame lies with “Er Cicoria” and the remaining 40% with Topo Gigio. A ten billion Euro bluff, paid for by all of Italy’s taxpayers. Long nights and accounts in the red.
The inspectors reported that: “The current trend as regards revenues and outlays shows a total lack of financial sustainability, even in the short-term”. Without being too obvious about it, Tremonti is busy using a few hundred million Euro of Government money in an attempt to shore up the empty coffers of the debt Capital.
Local mayors must be controlled and must not be allowed to spend money they don’t have. If they do so, let them pay the bills, not the taxpayers. The next administrative elections are due to be held in 2009. Perhaps it would be a good thing to start preparing ourselves now. Rome is simply the tip of the iceberg. Starting today, I will be publishing any reports I receive regarding Municipalities that are throwing money around. Take a look at the Municipal Accounts, investigate, write in and send the documentation in to this blog.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 12:46 PM in Economics | Comments (2)
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May 28, 2008

Incinerators and those who are beaten

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Click on the image: "Chiaiano, prof.Marfella"


The rubbish trains go north. Like migrating birds in spring. Towards the welcoming Germany that separates our rubbish and transforms it into secondary raw materials and in organic compost for industry. The trains of differentiated rubbish then come south again. Towards the Italy that is ridiculous and slovenly. Put in the stocks in the whole of Europe by incapable and corrupt parties.
We pay Germany for the rubbish twice, once on the way there and once on the way back. To get rid of it as rubbish and to buy it as secondary raw materials. The spokesperson for the Saxony Ministry of the Environment said: “The refuse has not been burned in the incinerators, the organic refuse has been separated from the solid refuse, that will become secondary raw materials, a minor part has been treated in a mechanical-biological plant and it will be sold to industry.”
Italy is a great client of its own rubbish and the third importer of secondary raw materials from Germany with two million tons a year. We are importing plastics, metal, paper from the Germans. Our plastic, our metal, our paper. The Germans are doing the work that the Italians don’t know how to do. To separate out the different types of rubbish is too complex a job for the Italian genius. But, above all it gives a low income. The incinerators however, are oil wells for those that make and manage them.
If nothing is created from diamonds, from manure up spring the public companies for managing refuse. And the call of rubbish is stronger than them. The refuse emergency is a business. Find out who gains and you will have found the solution to the problem. For example, but just as an example, who is the main shareholder of Impregilo? Who does the Chiaiano rubbish dump belong to?

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 05:39 PM in Economics | Comments (20)
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April 30, 2008

Breaking point

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In 2008 the growth in production is estimated to be about 0.5%. Only a few months ago, they were taking bets on 1 point something %. It’ll end up under 0%. A possible estimate is MINUS 0.5%. There’ll be a harsh recession, but Italian-style. The drop in production is equivalent to a drop in employment. A recession is translated into hundreds of thousands of fewer jobs. In Italy however employment will rise and the salaries will go down. It’s the trend of recent years.
How does it work? An employee is transformed into a precarious worker. A third of his previous salary, bye-bye pension and no safety at work (it costs!). The equation is simple. More recession=less salary, more precarious workers (and thus more jobs) and more who die at work. The number of precarious workers has arrived at about 5 million. There’s space for improvement. The whole Italian population. The abolition of article 18 that is under discussion is basically a help to the growth of precariousness and to employment. And also for dying of starvation. The recession is world-wide, but we’ve already won the world cup. Growth estimates in Europe and round about for 2008: Slovakia 7.4%, Russia 7.0%, Ukraine 6.4%, Poland 5.3%, Czech Republic 4.8%, Turkey 4.6%, Norway 3.4%, Ireland 3.2%, Greece 3.1%, Sweden 2.5%, Netherlands 2.3%, Hungary 2.2, Belgium 1.9%, UK-Germany 1.7%, France-Denmark-Portugal 1.6% (*).
We are the last of the last. But there are no real proposals for restarting the country. The reason is simple: to change, the equilibria on which the System is based, would have to be turned upside down. That on your own you never reform. How many are left producing real wealth in Italy? How many are parasites? The number of the former is going down. The number of the latter is going up before your eyes together with the number of precarious workers, the number of the new poor, the public debt. Before the euro, the lira was devalued, now we get into debt, with joy, the Nation with new issues of State Bonds.
The economic problems of the country, for example, Alitalia, are resolved by getting into debt. But it’s at breaking point. In 2008, we will pay about 70 billion euro in interest on the bonds issued. That’s about 4 budgets, Crikey! In 2009, the amount of interest will be greater, for three reasons. The first is that Italy is considered to be at risk and to compete with State Bonds of other countries it has to guarantee higher interest rates. The second is that the public debt is getting bigger. The third is that our production is going down. Towards the catastrophe with optimism.
(*) Source: Consensus Economics

Example of journalism:

La Repubblica (more than 16 million euro of public contributions annually to the L'Espresso Group) after V2-day reported: "In 50 thousand at Grillo’s show" and an article by Francesco Merlo.

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La Repubblica for the first of May 2007: "Piazza san Carlo where the Trades Union leaders spoke in front of 100 thousand people”
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Click the image

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:02 AM in Economics | Comments (13)
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March 24, 2008

Robert Kennedy and GDP

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Forty years ago, Robert Kennedy, gave a speech about the real wealth of Nations and GDP. Three months later he was assassinated.

What is the GDP, the Gross Domestic Product? A measure of the growth of society? The transformation into money, an abstract concept, of our health, of our time, of the environment? No one has ever calculated the COST of the GDP. The damage of empty sheds, of useless merchandise, of lorries that run around empty like maddened insects, of the destruction of the planet. No one has ever estimated the value of wasted time in queuing, the wasted years working to produce useless objects. Of the years thrown away to buy useless objects created by advertising. The time, The Earth, the life, the family (the only important ones) are concepts that are too simple for the GDP. A monster that devours the world. It eats it and accumulates it. It digests it and transforms it into nothing. The equation GDP=wealth is an enchantment. The useless products do not become useful because someone buys them.

”only when the last river dries up
when the last tree is torn down
when the last animal is killed
only then will you understand that money cannot be eaten.”
Creek Prophecy

Speech by Robert Kennedy, 18 March 1968, University of Kansas.
”We will never find a purpose for our nation nor for our personal satisfaction in the mere search for economic well-being, in endlessly amassing terrestrial goods.
We cannot measure the national spirit on the basis of the Dow-Jones, nor can we measure the achievements of our country on the basis of the gross domestic product (GDP)
Our gross national product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.
It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.
It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.
It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:31 PM in Economics | Comments (10)
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March 19, 2008

2001: Cement Odyssey

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Year 2000: Towns can spend money from building licenses ONLY for investments
Year 2001, October: Towns are authorised to spend money from building licenses to do what they like, thanks to the Unified Text on Building.
The building boom arrives.
Year 2000: 159,000 homes constructed.
Year 2007: 298,000 homes constructed and 38,000 homes extended.

Licenses double in 7 years. Italian territory is cementified with small blocks of flats, nano sky scrapers, hangars, second, third and fourth villas, car parks, garages. The towns double the cash coming into their coffers without any obligation according to how the money is to be used. They have a licence to kill the territory.

The “territorio comunale” {territory of the town), as the word itself says, is the “communal” inheritance of the citizens who live there. It belongs to them. The wood, the meadow, the panoramic view, a place to go for a walk or to let one’s children play, the park, the gardens, or even, a simple empty space for looking at the horizon. Let it be clear that the territory belongs to the citizens and not to the mayor decorated for the feast and his cabinet members who are ONLY town employees. Let’s ask ourselves a few questions.

What’s happened to the money from the building licenses that have been handed out with no longer any obligation to make investments? New services, nurseries, cycle tracks, public transport have not been seen. I’d do a survey. Town by town.

How much more can the Italian countryside be cementified? It’s only possible to go back, to de-cementify. Tourism is dying from cement.

Which are the main building companies that have obtained licenses? The constructors now are more in charge than mayor Moratti and mayor Topo Gigio. They have to get out of the town councils. They are there, even though they have not been elected.

The infernal process put in motion by the 2001 Unified Text has to be stopped. We need to turn the clock back to the year 2000. Less cement, less money for the parties, the true bosses in the towns. The citizens must present themselves in the Town Councils to ask for the reasons for the building disaster and they should document the meeting with a video.

The Bel Paese {Beautiful Country} is ours. Let’s claim it back.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 08:55 PM in Economics | Comments (8)
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March 13, 2008

2008 - 1929?

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The forecasts about the crisis in the real estate market in the United States are for heart attacks. You remember the subprime, the mortgages given to anyone without checking up on their income and then transformed into investment funds placed to the right, left and centre? The bank sold the mortgage and the fund with the mortgage inside. Great. Some banks like Northern Rock, got blown into the air and the value of their shares taken down to almost zero.
Ben Bernanke, the head of the Federal Reserve, in July 2007, forecast the damage to the American financial system to be 100 billion dollars. Later Goldman Sachs altered the estimate to 500 billion dollars. Recently Nouriel Roubini of the New York University Stern School of Business, raised the level to 3,000 billion dollars. That’s equal to 20% of the USA’s GDP. Roubini estimates a collateral effect on the United States Stock Exchange as a loss of 5,600 billion dollars
Roubini’s pessimism, or perhaps realism, goes as far as forecasting a loss in overall value equivalent to the entire annual GDP of the United States. The price of houses has gone down by at least 10% of the maximums and it is envisaged that there’ll be a further 20% reduction. Those who are paying a mortgage often hand over the keys to the banks when they realize that the mortgage on the house is greater than the market value of the house. The bank then has to devalue its stock of buildings. To recover from the abyss of financial losses they call in loans at risk. And they sell the most vulnerable shares.
There’s a decrease in value of the banks, shares, houses and all of a sudden, no one is making loans anymore. The value of the dollar collapses, 63,000 jobs fewer in February 2008. In these cases, there’s always talk of a new 1929, given the scenario, it’s not excluded that that could happen.
The average Italian with a salary among the lowest in Europe, taxes among the highest in the world, and indecent public services can believe that they are safe from this financial tsunami. It seems difficult that it could be worse than this. It’s better to take some tiny precaution anyway so as not to be completely ruined. For those who have no money, don’t take out a loan. For those who still have money, don’t invest it in funds and put off buying a house.
Towards the catastrophe with optimism.
For more information: Martin Wolf’s blog, Financial Times
Nouriel Roubini’s blog.



Print and distribute the V2-Day flyer..


V2-day, 25 April, for freedom of information:
1. Put your photos on www.flickr.com with the tag V2-day
2. Put your videos on www.youtube.com with the tag V2-day
3. Give your support to V2 day
4. Download the V2-day flyer

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Posted by Beppe Grillo at 09:11 PM in Economics | Comments (3)
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March 10, 2008

Finance letter, Rome 15/12/2011

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Rome, 15 December 2011
"The state of siege proclaimed yesterday by the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano has exasperated the population weighed down by the serous crisis of the economy. During the night, people spilled out onto the streets and squares of the main cities of the country, ignoring the measures taken by the authorities and asking for the resignation of the Minister of the Economy Giulio Tremonti. The request was heeded. This morning the Minister resigned and straight away the government of Berlusconi fell. Napolitano summoned the presidents of the Lower House Fini and D'Alema as well as the leaders of the parliamentary groupings. The clashes throughout the country are continuing and the number of dead has already reached 32. Constitutional guarantees have been suspended.
The country is on the brink of bankruptcy after the ultimatum of the European Community saying that to stop the indebtedness of the State at least 350 billion Euro would be needed.
After the start of the American recession in 2008, the slow down in the economy has made it more difficult to turn round the tendency of public indebtedness. After three years of recession, starting from June of this year, all sources of international financing have been. These made possible the survival of a model of chronic deficit that was constantly covered by new issues of public bonds. In mid-August Parliament approved the so-called “zero deficit law” put forward by Giulio Tremonti, who took the idea from the former Argentine Minister of the Economy Domingo Cavallo, as a last resource to gain back the trust of international markets.
The law lays down that the State must maintain expenditure within the limits of what is gained from tax revenue. If there is not sufficient money, the creditors of the public debt are given priority over the salaries of public employees and pensions. In applying the new law, incomes and pensions have thus been reduced by 30% starting from August.
With the “zero deficit law”, the deputy Minister of the Economy Lamberto Dini went to Brussels to negotiate a solution to avoid bankruptcy. After difficult negotiations, a loan of 40 billion euro was agreed so that the Italian government can take charge of the restructuring of the public debt that is equal to 2,000 billion euro (estimated end of December 2011). The agreement also includes a reform of the labour market “The Russian law” that supercedes the law number 30 aiming to make “flexible” the conditions of work, and it should be based on “temporary contracts with pay levels lower than current ones”
The international situation relating to the conversion of Treasury Bonds is more complex. Foreign creditors have threatened to take Italy to court if it does not respect the agreements.
The news that the European Community does not intend to provide the finance for the last portion of funds agreed in August has cooled down any enthusiasm. The motive given is that the government has not respected the agreements. Some observers believe that the decision is motivated by the wish to keep a distance from a country on the brink of disaster.
It is the first time since the war that there is a reduction in Italy’s Gross Domestic Product for the third year running. The current crisis is developing in the context of a strong recovery of the main world economies.
The reduction in the availability of public financing has also dragged down the availability of private financing, while the reduction in consumption has aggravated the recession. The vicious circle is completed by the reduction in the money coming in to government from taxes and with the freezing of current accounts and the block on the payment of interest on State Bonds.”

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 08:46 PM in Economics | Comments (1)
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March 04, 2008

70 billion euro in interest

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70 billion euro in interest. You have been paying this together with all Italians. And the coming year it’ll be more. At night, before you close your eyes to go to sleep, think of the interest payments on YOUR public debt. Put aside ten euro in the glass on your bedside table.
Before investing in social structures and security structures, the State last year had to pay 70 billion euro. The State is us. The interest payments were paid by us through our taxes. For every euro given to the taxman, a part has been used for the interest. It’s as though, you with your salary had to pay a loan shark before the mortgage on the house, the children’s day care, the shopping and the utility bills for gas and electricity. The difference between the State and the loan shark is that the State got you into debt without asking your permission. The loan shark at least lent you the money. If however you buy a bit of the public debt through the issuing of State bonds you could even get even. The taxes paid for the interest on the public debt will be transformed into interest from State bonds.
The debt has reached 1,629.7 billion euro (in September 2005 it was 11,542.4 billion euro). Each year it increases thanks to the new interest to be paid and to the deficit in the accounts (the difference between money coming in to the State and money going out). It’s a maddened train that has to be stopped by reducing the costs of the State. Cut bureaucracy, Provinces, group together villages, investments without funds and without future like the TAV in Val di Susa (15 billion euro) or the Messina Bridge (4/5 billion euro), useless public bodies, etc. etc.
The governments must not be able to create holes in the balance of the accounts, the outgoings must be equal to (or less than) the income. If they are bigger, let the President of the Council pay the difference.
The young generations are the victims of the public debt. Less money for research, for the school, for innovation means less opportunity for work. It is the society of the “big babies”, that has come after the society of the “big eaters”.
To tranquilize the Italians, the public debt is compared to the GDP. Today the debt/GDP ratio is 105. If the GDP, that is the Italian Gross Domestic Product increases in a year, the catastrophe gets further away. But the GDP is slowing down, coming to a stop, and in 2008 could get less. And for the debt/GDP ratio we are next to the bottom in Europe out of 27 countries, followed only by Hungary.
Public spending is the main resource of Italian politics: they even spend the money they don’t have for lobbyists, votes and clients. They are getting us into debt, and above all our offspring.

V2-day, 25 April, for freedom of information:
1. Put your photos on www.flickr.com with the tag V2-day
2. Put your videos on www.youtube.com with the tag V2-day
3. Give your support to V2 day

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Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:25 AM in Economics | Comments (8)
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February 20, 2008

Global economy, sacking Italians

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Are you an employee in the private sector? With a simple test, you can find out your future:
Case number one: international competition is too strong and the company closes. Sacked on the spot.
Case number two: the cost of labour is lower in China or in Romania and the company transfers to China or Romania. Sacked on the spot.
Case number three: international competition is too strong, the cost of labour is too high, you’ve been taken on as a precarious worker, not on the books or openly but underpaid. Investments in safety are reduced: died at work.
Case number four: the company is a multinational with a base in Italy. The costs of bureaucracy are too high, taxes on work are too high and the services don’t exist and are costly. The company transfers the offices and the factories abroad: emigrating.
Case number five: the company, in spite of all the problems, is useless. The product is "Made in Italy". The company wants to increase profits. The company moves production to China or Romania. The product is called "Made in Italy". The profits of the company go up: Sacked on the spot.
I’m publishing a letter from Simone, one who has been sacked, and I reckon who comes into the situation of case number 4. I’ll pop over to Florence to understand better.

Dear Beppe,
We are 450 people in the Zanussi company in Florence. As you know, work on refrigerators costs less in China. They are paid less. If we work for ten, they work for five and this is why they want to close the company. Just think. 450 families with mortgages to be paid and children to bring up and they close the company. Beppe, I think that if you come to Scandicci, they won’t let you come inside, but if you let us know beforehand, if you like I’ll write down the name of my Trades Union representative in the CGIL, at least if you happen to come, tell him that you are Beppe Grillo, but tell him that you are the real one or he won’t believe you. We wanted to organise a march to the government in Rome. If you come too, we’ll be really happy. I’m writing to you because I have been working there for 5 years, but there are others who are over 40 and don’t know where to go any more. BEPPE WE NEED HELP. You are our last hope. Please don’t let us be closed down. We’ll agree to bear the cost of putting on a show in front of ZANUSSI and put up a stage. If there’s any money, otherwise do it on the ground level or on a car. If you come to the gate house first, we’ll come out straight away. Me a worker and a Trades Union representative.
Anyway, if they know that you’re there, the whole factory will stop.” Simone.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 07:02 PM in Economics | Comments (7)
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January 19, 2008

Public debt, private profits

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This Government is what it is. It carries on regardless while we tighten our belts. But it does so for a good reason, namely to restore the Italian economy. We become poorer in the hope of a better future, and the results are plain to see, this we cannot deny. Our economy is much like the bill at a restaurant in that we always hope that someone else will pay. Every government leaves the bill for the subsequent Government and, sooner or later, payment becomes due.
The government’s optimism with regard to our economy is not shared by the Heritage Foundation’s annual Report on economic freedom.
Italy is in 64th place, out of 157 countries assessed, and has dropped down four positions in the ratings since 2006. The Report assesses the various Countries in terms of the freedom to do business in the country, as well as its financial and taxation systems. It also assesses the level of corruption in the country, as well as government interference in the marketplace. The fact that Italy is preceded in the ratings by Botswana (36), or immediately followed by Madagascar (65), is no longer a newsworthy fact. It does, however, make one realise that almost all of the more economically free countries are to be found in Europe. And that is precisely where we are. We are the exception. Guinea-Bissau (148) can justify its position, after all, it is situated in Africa. How, instead, can Italy justify its lowly position? What does Europe mean to us? A spiritual home? A way for us to believe that we are first-world citizens rather than third-world?
Economic freedom is closely linked to freedom of information. Where one of these is absent, so is the other. It is no coincidence that our economy has been going to the dogs for the past twenty years, while information has been held hostage by certain business groupings and political parties, almost all of which are living as parasites on State concessions.
Everything is going well. In October, our level of public debt hit a new record of 1,629.7 billion Euro. A bottomless pit, an upside down Everest. Our taxes are used to pay the interest charges on the public debt instead of being put towards development. But don’t worry, the important thing is the ratio of public debt to GDP. The very same GDP for which the Banca d’Italia revised its growth predictions for 2008, down from 1.7% to 1%. Ask yourself this question: how much longer can the level of public debt continue to rise? Where is the breaking point? And what then will become of your savings?

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 08:17 PM in Economics | Comments (15)
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January 12, 2008

The hunt for the tax evaders

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This government never ceases to amaze one. First they want to hunt down the tax evaders and the, when they find them, they fail to go all the way. 98 Billion Euro of tax evasion is equivalent to 4/5 annual budgets. In order to be prosecuted, an Italian tax evader must pay his taxes, not owe the receiver of revenue very much at all, and not collude with the political parties.
The GREAT TAX EVADER, instead, has nothing to fear. In the worst case scenario, he can always float his company on the Stock Exchange and share out his debts amongst the small investors.


Text:
Beppe Grillo:We at the blog would like to know what has happened to the 98 billion Euro from the tax evasion by the State Monopoly concessionaries. This man, Ferruccio Sansa, is the person who carried out the investigations.

Ferruccio Sansa: It is a good thing that, finally, someone is applauding the journalists, and it would be even better if someone were to respond to the findings of the investigation, seeing that we have been asking Visco and Prodi to give us some answers for a number of months now, without either of the two deigning to say a single word.
Their tactic has been to act like a brick wall, and we must prevent them from using this tactic successfully. We must continue to repeat these questions, ad nauseam, at the risk of seeming repetitive. They are hoping to wear us down, yet we must carry on, continue to resist and repeat these questions until such time as they are worn down.
This is not something we have sucked out of our thumbs, nor do we have any intention of venting our frustrations on some or other political party. We have based our actions on documentation provided by an investigation commission and on statements made by the Court of Counts. Public documents, in other words. They told us that, based on an inquiry by the Financial Police, not by some dangerous subversives, the Slot Machine concessionaries owe the State, us in other words, 98 billion – those figures with the nine zeroes – Euros. Next time they ask us to pay additional taxes for some or other expense of 12-13 billion, remember what they have given as a gift to these companies, certain of which include Cosa Nostra families on the Boards of Directors, while yet others are managed by members of political parties, particularly Alleanza Nazionale, just like the Bingo business was in the hands of members of the DS and the Lega. Let us always remember: you ask us to pay additional taxes to cover 11-12 billion of expenditure? You ask us to make sacrifices in order to be able to make cuts amounting to 11-12 billion Euro? But where have these 98 billion Euro gone? Parliament is already discussing a law. There are only two possible solutions: either we write off the fine, in which case, the next time I am given a parking fine I too will ask for it to be written off, or else we are talking about a final pardon, in other words, we are giving a 98 billion Euro gift to private companies. We will continue to follow this story through to the end, you must just stay with us and don’t forget. If any mention is made of a final pardon, it will be like giving companies quoted on the stock exchange a gift that is much greater than that which they ask of us. Just the other day, tens, nay thousands of our readers wrote to Prodi, demanding answers. This was the response displayed on the Government’s website: “We must be careful because we are dealing with companies that are quoted on the stock exchange”.
We may not be quoted on the stock exchange, but we are nevertheless entitled to the same level of respect. Thanks to you all.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 12:06 PM in Economics | Comments (0)
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January 07, 2008

Emergencies and Moratoriums

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Italy is the land of sunshine and Emergencies. Each day has its Emergency that always obliges the Government to reflect seriously. Between an emergency and another, while the citizen is still seeing stars, there are Moratoriums. The first was the Great ceppalonic Pardon. Between the security emergency and the deaths at work emergency, up pops the moratorium on abortion. Between the refuse emergency and the Alitalia emergency, they come up with a moratorium on Malpensa “my moratorium, my life” is the motto of the politicians.
No one is saying anything more about the Maroni laws (C major jazz musician where are you?) that saw the lining up of the politics of work in Italy with that of the fifth world. The renewal and/or the abolition of the law number 30 was in the manifesto programme of the Ulivo. But now we are in Emergency. You cannot insiiiiist, as Valium Prodi would say.
The lack of safety at ThyssenKrupp is because of the Maroni law. The workers who survived declared that they could not protest about the interminable shifts or about the empty fire extinguishers. Anyone on a short term agreement is left at home if they protest. And anyone with a family can’t afford that.
The book "Schiavi Moderni" has got to 450,000 copies downloaded. Read it and spread it around.

Mauro Gallegati’s speech.

Beppe Grillo: "He wanted to be here and here he is. A Professor of Economics who will be talking about work. I want you all to listen very carefully to what he has to say. Please welcome Mauro Gallegati. Come on up Mauro. Is it 4-wheel drive … is it licensed? Good then. Go ahead. Mauro Gallegati.

"I lecture at the university and I generally have a class of around twenty – forty people. To see the square so full of people, and to come here and be stopped by people saying “I am a temporary worker, thanks for what Grillo, Stiglitz and you are doing” is a truly moving experience.
In any event, until yesterday I lectured at the university but after today, I don’t know whether that will still be the case, but anyway …
In this book, we have come to a relatively simple conclusion, namely that the law regarding temporary work is a law that has only been applied in order to reduce labour costs. In this sense: our politicians have not simply worked to reduce the salaries paid to temporary workers, which, as Beppe remarked, were already ridiculously low. It s like going into a bank to ask for a loan and saying “however, in all probability I won’t be able to pay back the loan” and the Bank Manager saying “very well, then you will be charged a much lower interest rate than everyone else”. Because paying lower salaries to temporary workers essentially means turning people into beggars for work. The problem is not only that we don’t earn a decent salary. The problem is that the cuts in labour costs have come at the expense of welfare payments, so that we find ourselves with an entire generation of people currently living with the spectre of temporary work, earning very low salaries and, when they reach pensionable age, they will be not have enough money to survive on.
The truth is that everyone born in the ‘70s and the late ’80s are unfortunately destined to accept temporary posts when they are young and are equally destined to one day die of starvation as pensioners. However, perhaps you will get used to it and so you carry on. Nevertheless, this is clearly an untenable situation because it is absolutely ridiculous that this situation is only being highlighted in Beppe’s book. You have no idea just how many times Beppe and I have spoken on the phone, with Beppe absolutely and rightly livid because he was accused of being a terrorist. He may well talk a lot of bullshit, but perhaps this is not enough to make him a terrorist! Thank you all!!" Mauro Gallegati V2-day, 25 April, for freedom of information: < br>1. Put your photos on www.flickr.com with the tag V2-day
2. Put your videos on www.youtube.com with the tag V2-day
.
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Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:38 AM in Economics | Comments (3)
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November 28, 2007

Open letter to Franco Bernabé

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photo Adnkronos

"Dear Dr. Franco Bernabè,
I heard about your appointment as Managing Director of Telecom Italia and decided to write you an open letter.
You were kicked out of the chair in 1999, the same chair that you are once again about to take over. At the time, you were in favour of forming an alliance with Deutsche Telecom and preventing Telecom Italia from being indebted to the tune of tens of billions of Euro to the “courageous captains” Gnutti and Colaninno, who “bought” the company by getting into debt. Your attempt failed due to the opposition of Massimo D’Alema, Chairman of the Board at that time, who favoured entry into the largest company in the Country of the capitalists with patched trousers. Subsequently, Colaninno was convicted of preferential bankruptcy in the Italcase case, Gnutti for insider trading and D’Alema is now involved in the Unipol case in which Consorte and Sacchetti have been convicted.
You now find a company that is more indebted, with fewer resources, with a reduced international presence, minus thousands of employees and companies sold off, unbundled or closed down. A company that has missed every boat in the past eight years and that has only survived thanks to what is essentially a politically sponsored monopoly.
The management currently in charge of your former company is made up of people, and here I refer specifically to Carlo Buora and Riccardo Ruggiero, which have allowed or ignored the creation of the most widespread espionage centre in the entire history of the Republic. There are thousands of files on people who were spied upon, for which million of Euro of company money was paid out, of which the management was totally unaware. Tronchetti and Buora, an unbreakable couple, brought people such as Tavaroli with them from Pirelli and entrusted them with Telecom’s Security while they knew nothing.
I tell you this in the hope that you will have no hesitation in dismissing the management team that has taken Telecom to the brink of the abyss.
The go-ahead for your appointment came from the appointment committee of Mediobanca, consisting of Rampi, Bollorè, Tronchetti and Geronzi. This is not a good recommendation. We know Tronchetti and Geronzi well and so do you.
I would have preferred it if your appointment was made by the majority of shareholders, also involving the minority shareholders that are continually impoverished by every decision that is made. However, this was not to be. I ask that you take immediate action to give minority shareholders an appropriate voice in Board meetings and hope that you listen to me.
Following his appointment, Tronchetti expressed the hope that: “ the work carried out by the front-line employees be appreciated, namely those employees that have contributed to the company’s economic and technological success and the important financial restructuring, guaranteeing good results through their professionalism, even during the long period of instability”.
You, instead, should kick out all these managers that have taken the company to the wall, because the only great things they have are their stock option and their salaries.
I will be following your progress with interest and in 2008 I will be ready for the share action.”
Beppe Grillo

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 07:35 PM in Economics | Comments (6)
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November 21, 2007

European Parliament/2 Luigi De Magistris

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Danuta Huebner, Polish, European Commissioner responsible for Regional Policy, held a Press Conference about my speech at the European Parliament when I asked for clarity concerning the European funding that arrives in Italy. Danuta declared: “We mustn’t give a negative image of the use of European funding in Italy, given that in most Regions of the South there is anyway noticeable progress in the reduction of inequalities. We have a monitoring system that is really very evolved at the level of Regional funding, Member States, European Commission and Court of Accounts. When these irregularities are actually identified there is a system that has been really well tested that involves even the interruption of the flow of funds. I would not say that Italy is one of those member States that is far from the average situation.”
Danuta is sure about what she says. She has received the guarantees about European funding directly, from Totò Cuffaro. True. I’m not joking. After meeting him she said enthusiastically: “I could tell you that the commitment of all those who work to guarantee that there are no crimes or fraud is evident without a doubt.”

I advise “Danuta the naïve” to listen to the speech of magistrate Luigi De Magistris at Strasbourg and get someone to translate for her the first investigation in today’s edition of la Repubblica.

I also want to remind her that in 2006, Italy obtained illicit funds from the EU amounting to 318 million 104 thousand Euro with 1,221 cases denounced, almost 5 times the European average.
Read the article about European funding.


”Thank you. This reminds me of the day there was the CSM hearing when I arrived late, without breakfast, and I underwent four hours of hearing. Now I’ve had a cup of tea and hope that this time the meeting will last for less time.
I have accepted with pleasure this invitation to present a reflection on my experience as a magistrate in which I deal with fraud and crimes of corruption and other things around the management of public spending, and thus of public financing.
Obviously, although I cannot talk about the investigations that I have carried out over the years, and especially those that have been illegally taken from me, I cannot keep quiet about a worrying fact: even though the tool that has the objective of economic development of the regions that need it – I work in Calabria, an “Objective One” region where a lot of European funding is arriving and for which in the period 2007-2013 funds for 9 billion Euro have been allocated – economic development has not happened.
In certain cases, as has been noted in very careful investigations by the Court of Accounts as well as by the regional prosecutor and jurisdiction sections that have monitoring functions, as well as by the ordinary magistracy, it has been possible to verify a lack of tax income for sums not spent for reasons of serious negligence and therefore implying guilt; in many other cases, even other prosecutors of the Republic in Calabria have been able to see that there are real and true swindles to the detriment of the European Union. Many other times there have been hypotheses of corruption.
This makes the management of public financing seem systemic: it’s not a matter of occasional or isolated incidents, of swindling by individuals, and this in my opinion is the most important fact, but there is always something that is governing the whole management of public spending from above.
This is evidenced above all by looking at the routes by which the projects for European funding are put together. We don’t have particular sectors but it’s a question of all the branches by which development should come about: like the environment, ICT, health, public works.
What’s the process used to get hold of these sums of money? By constructing a network of companies organised according to a system of Chinese boxes, more often than not mixed public-private ones.
This use of mixed public-private companies is an important part of the route. It’s something to be considered at an institutional level. I also did this at the Bi-Chamber Committee of the Italian Parliament on the cycle of refuse when they tackled the issue of companies that are managing refuse and the purification of water.
It’s here that you understand how, from above, the system of management of public spending is often governed by groups of people who have organised true criminal associations, composed of professionals, entrepreneurs, men of the world of the economy and of politics, to create lower down a true control system of the other important sectors of public life.
In a series of investigations, when we have examined how the close-knit social societies were put together, how directors were inserted into the companies, how the Boards of Directors were put together, how the College of Supervisors and the Auditors were appointed, we understood that the groups of professionals were always the same. Often we found people who were even closely connected with magistrates, with men in the police forces, with men in the institutions.
It is clear that the most worrying aspect is that there is the creation of a damaging mixing of those who monitor and those who are monitored.
The central problem is how all this can be remedied. In different cases we have noted that the people who should have been monitoring, because they were in vital positions in the region or in other institutions, were also participating directly or indirectly in the companies that should have been monitored.
It is clear that to be able to guarantee a correct flow of the money allocated and to be sure that this is used for projects that bring about economic development, the monitoring system should work. Not just the European one, using the structures that have been set up – (I have collaborated a lot and in a useful way, right up to the time when they took the investigations away from me, with OLAF – the anti-fraud office) but also using the monitoring done by the Regions. That is often impossible or very difficult because in all the criminal proceedings that we dealt with, the people responsible for some crimes in this area, were actually the people assigned to the monitoring organisations of the Regions.
The problem becomes important especially if you consider that the economic development doesn’t happen and in fact these costs then fall on the Italian people since Italy is then obliged by Europe to pay back the money.
What is even more worrying is the step that happens after that. I have explained what happens at the top and lower down, and how people are inserted into the companies. Even lower down, what happens when people are employed by the companies that win the projects that are being financed, the training courses and so on… And here there’s another really sensitive step. Often there is a real system of “indication” of the people to be employed. Those who at the top establish the conditions to get the financing are the same people who “indicate” to the companies to employ this or that person, (and here I’ll stop) with a further connection with voting. When voting happens, (and in some proceedings we have also had the crime of “exchange voting” ) a vote is asked for because one has been a determinant not only in getting the financing but also in imposing the person to be employed.
A further consideration on the mixed public-private companies.
In some cases we have found that in the public sector, there was a real division of the jobs among Parties, with people who are part of all political sides: in some companies we verified that there were people belonging to all forces except, perhaps, of the extreme right and extreme left.
What I worry about most is not this, because I could get the objection by the important people who I see here, that it's a way to represent all cultures. It is an old thing. Very questionable, but it can be said. What worries me is the private companies, because in some cases we have noticed that some entrepreneurs are directly linked to people who are in the public sector, in organizations close to the world of the Church, left and right politicians, and the circle closes with companies tied to organized crime.
If this is the picture, one can understand that within some companies who receive large European fundings, we find much of the political world, a large proportion of professionals that in an area such as Calabria are not many, organized crime, control of the labor market and control of Votes.
If this is the picture we must think beyond the investigations and think what help can come from the European Community structures.
Certainly, for my experience, I can say that the anti-fraud office, when there was a need, always worked in a significant way with the Italian judicial authorities both in terms of cooperation and through Eurojust for the good order of certain rogatory letters." Luigi De Magistris

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 04:26 PM in Economics | Comments (3)
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November 13, 2007

Stop funds from Europe to Italy

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Click the video (Italian only)


This afternoon I have taken part in a meeting at the European Union in Strasbourg. at the invitation of Giulietto Chiesa, together with Marco Travaglio and Luigi De Magistris. At this meeting there was discussion of European funding. I’m giving a summary below. In the next few days I’ll publish my video and the video of De Magistris and Travaglio.
“I’ve come here to Strasbourg to ask you for help. To beg the European Community not to provide any more funding to Italy. The money that is arriving from Europe is increasing the metastasis that is devouring our country.
In 2006, Italy got illicit funding from the European Union, then it swindled it for 318,104,000 euro with 1,221 cases denounced. In a single year it has improved its performance by 90 million euro.
We are the top in Europe. First in football. First in fraud. Italy is fraudulent with agricultural funding. It is fraudulent with structural funds for the development of areas that are getting left behind. And I’m just referring to fraud that has been proved.
Billions of Euro arrive every year from the European Community to Italy. Where do they end up? Italian citizens don’t know. To get information they can only turn to the judges. But the judges, when they take action, are always blocked by the Government, by the Parties. So we are always kept in the dark about everything.
The financing from the European Community is our money at the end of the day. Italy participates with other countries to create the common fund that is then redistributed. Money that goes out and that then comes back. A bit like uncontrolled laundering of dirty money. Our taxes are financing the European funding whose use the Italian citizens know nothing about. If it is useful, if it is not useful, what benefits it brings, when it ends.
The Vice President of the Community, Frattini and the Minister of Community Policies, Bonino are very private people. They did not tell Prodi that Barroso had put up 275 million Euro for the integration of the Roma community. Italy didn’t ask for anything, Spain got 52 million and Poland got 8.5 million. Poland? Have the Roma people gone to Poland as well? I thought they were all in Italy. For once when we could have used the funding for a good reason we haven’t asked for it.
And it’s strange. Because even our Regions have opened luxurious community offices in Brussels, that we pay for, to get to the funding. They have more office workers than all the other States.
The billions of Euro that come into Italy are intended for useless work: roundabouts, theme supermarkets, like the TAV tunnel in Val di Susa and Mediapolis in Piedmont. They have financed projects that never arrived at a conclusion, purifiers, alternative energy. They ended up in the pockets of that grey zone that connects the parties to the companies to criminal groupings.
It is better if Italy no longer gives contributions to the common European Fund and in exchange that it has no funding. This money can be used by our government in other ways. To reduce our Public Debt, the biggest in Europe, one of the most impressive in the world.
A Debt that risks taking us under. The money could be used to reduce taxes. To give incentives to companies to invest in Italy instead of encouraging Italian companies to transfer abroad. Or even to reduce the poverty that exists in Italy or increase the starvation pensions of our old folk.
The money laundering of our cash through Brussels is no good for us. It is only useful to fatten up the mafia, to grow criminality in our country.
Also present here is the judge Luigi De Magistris. What has been taken out of the hands of De Magistris is an investigation that involved the top people of the Region of Calabria and of the Italian Government: Mastella, Minister of Justice and Prodi, President of the Council.
The investigation was removed from him by his superiors without a reason. The documents of the investigation have been taken from the strong boxes of the Catanzaro Prosecutors Office without warning him and they have been sent to Rome. The investigation is called Why Not and it also deals with the use of Community funding. In Calabria, they are waiting for five billion euro in European funding. Where will it end up?
The magistracy has been halted by the politicians. Once, in 1992, with Falcone and Borsellino, they used TNT. Now it’s the Minister of Justice who intervenes directly.
European funding is of no use to Italy. It’s useful to the political parties and organised crime. We don’t want it. Please hang onto it. Do this for a better Italy.”

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 09:23 PM in Economics | Comments (14)
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November 05, 2007

Bonino, Frattini and the open hatches

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The Local House of Liberty is indignant every hour with the Government and with Topo Gigio Veltroni. It says that the uncontrolled flow from Romania and for Bulgaria is what Valium Prodi wanted. That’s not true!
The responsibility for an out-of-control immigration is the fault of both the government and the opposition. As usual. As for De Magistris, for the Great Pardon, for Forleo, for Rete 4, for the 94 billion tax dodge by the slot machine concessionaries. Just as ever basically.
On 01 January 2007, almost all the European countries imposed a moratorium period for the entrance of people from Bulgaria and from Romania into the EU.
Italy, the least organised country, where the certainty of the penalty does not exist, with the most impressive public debt in Europe, with a density of habitation like an ant-hill and with 5 and a half million precarious workers has in the words of the part time mayor of Rome "aperto i boccaporti" {Opened the hatches}
Forza Italia and Rosa nel pugno have serious responsibilities in relation to the arrival of flows of wretches. I’m reporting the speech by Frattini (FI) vice president of the European Commission and that of Emma Bonino (RNP), Minister of European Policies delivered on 14 December 2006, at the meeting of the ambassadors of Romania and Bulgaria.
Franco Frattini thanked the two countries for their great commitment to the fight against corruption that in the last few years has seen a big drop. Frattini declared that he was contrary to the limitation of entry to Bulgarian and Romanian workers to Italy, as has however happened in other countries of the EU. Minister Emma Bonino spoke and gave a welcome to the 30 million citizens Romanian and Bulgarian. She tranquilized everyone about the fictitious myth of the terror of the invasion of the foreign workers after the entry of a new country to the European Union and she reminded us that instead these people are a great resource for our country. Ms Bonino declared that she personally is against any possible moratorium period for the entrance of people from Bulgaria and from Romania into Italy. She reminded us that even when Spain joined the EU we were all afraid of the invasion and then nothing happened. But who sent us this ? Let her take of her fashion designer jacket and resign immediately. The countries of the European Union have done a moratorium. We haven’t. Why? Confindustria needs to export capital to Romania and Bulgaria where the cost of labour is much lower than here and the controls are fewer. Confindustria also needs to import labour at starvation wages. Romania and Bulgaria are perfect for these objectives. Doors wide open. Prodi did no moratorium and Berlusconi did not ask for it.
Pappa e ciccia.
Bonino deserves in-depth soon. Stay tuned.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:48 PM in Economics | Comments (18)
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October 18, 2007

Let's go forward together!

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Thousands of tiny companies are closing down in Sardinia. Their lands are being repossessed for debts that they can no longer pay. There are between 5,000 and 7,000 companies at risk. The crop farmers and sheep farmers are challenging the enormous amounts of interest applied by the Banco di Sardegna on mortgages that they thought offered good terms. They are asking the Region to take action to help them, No one responds. What’s the use of a Region if it isn’t to protect the territory, the culture, the citizens and local production? If they are not taking an interest in these topics they may as well be done away with so as to cause lower costs to the citizens.
The Banco di Sardegna is demanding payment of its loans, but the only thing about it with a connection with Sardinia is its name. It is in fact owned by the Banca Popolare dell’Emilia Romagna. That’s the one that has an incestuous relationship with Gruppo Cremonini, which at one time was at the centre of an investigation on Milena Gabanelli’s programme called Report. Why was it incestuous?
The diagram that I’m showing here highlights the fact that the company called Marr (in the Cremonini Group) and Cremonini, have the following in common with the Banca Popolare dell’Emilia Romagna:
- two supervising auditors
- threedirectors
- a director (in Cremonini) who became a supervising auditor in Banca Popolare dell’Emilia Romagna:
(the green lines connect the directors, the red lines connect the supervising auditors)
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Marr was awarded the tender organised by Consip S.p.A. for the supply of foodstuffs for the Public Administration of the Region of Sardinia.
The management of the bar at the Cagliari-Elmas airport has been entrusted to Cremonini that sells panini imported from all the world except Sardinia with moddizzosu from Sanluri, sausage from Murru di Irgo and Boi from Nuraminis
The Banco di Sardegna has two of its directors who are also directors of its controller, Banca Popolare dell’Emilia Romagna: Guido Leoni and Ivano Spallanzani. Leoni is also the CEO of the Banca Popolare dell’Emilia Romagna. It’s he who gives the orders.

To sum up: the farmers are having their lands taken from them. Soru is thinking of Topo Gigio Veltroni, whoever is making decisions stays in Emilia Romagna and has more than a brotherly relationship with Cremonini, a group that is in the foodstuffs business and could get food produced in Sardinia.
There are grown men who are crying on the video. I would like someone to think about these thousands of families. I’m going to do that by soon going to Decimoputzu where they are doing the hunger strike. I’ll do a bit of hunger striking too, but you see I really need that.

Let's go forward together!

PS This evening at 6:00pm in Piazza del Ferrarese in Bari there’ll be the collection of signatures organised by the Bari’s MeetUp2 against the incinerator and the turbogas power station at Modugno.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 08:28 PM in Economics | Comments (6)
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October 16, 2007

Decimoputzu, Italia

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In Sardinia the representatives of the crop farmers and the sheep farmers are on hunger strike in the Council Chamber of Decimoputzu. They are protesting about the sale by auction of 5,000 farms according to the law 44/88. The banks are asking for 700 million Euro and not a cent less. The Government and the Region are looking on. The farmers say that the law that forced them into debt is considered to be illegal by the European Community. That the banks have applied enormous interest rates on the debt.
Who has an interest in getting their hands on the Sardinian farmers’ land used for sheep and crops? And what do they want to do with it?
Don’t touch the farmers of Sardinia or I will turn into a ferocious beast!

Part of a letter from Decimoputzu.

”The sale by auction of the Sardinian companies because of the illegality of the regional law 44/88 is the most serious Italian emergency since Parmalat. In Sardinia, more than five thousand farming companies concerned with crops and sheep are at the second or third auction. This is a disaster that involves the lives of tens of thousands of people. Crop farmers, sheep farmers, and manual workers are reduced to desperation.
A disaster caused by planning, management and the government of the regional agriculture that is the result of the last few decades.
The credit system asks those who work on the land in Sardinia for about 700 million Euro but we, don’t even have the resources to send our children to school for our domestic family expenses or for getting our fields to be productive. To produce, then , for what? For many years our products have been sold (when we can sell them and we don’t destroy them in the field) below cost. The banks expect the equivalent of almost a whole year’s farming production from all the Sardinian companies.
Who will benefit from the sale by auction of our lands? And what will they do with them? Certainly not the creditors. So who? Is it the speculators who will buy extraordinary agricultural land at ridiculously low prices to speculate at our expense? The relatives or the friends of how many of those who are seated at their desks in some private or public office know the dates of the auctions and will turn up ready to make a last minute offer?
We were led into investing and getting into debt with the banks by a regional law that the European Commission has declared to be illegal. They have asked us to pay back the sums that were guaranteed by that law with all the interest (the amount of interest has risen in an abnormal way and we are convinced that there are many cases of illegitimate calculations) while the banks, according to the same illegal law, are not giving back the interest payments (even public ones) that they have received. Perhaps we are simple people but in the habit of thinking that if something is illegal for us it is also for the banks and for the Region that made the law, and thus that each party must accept their responsibilities.
If it goes on like this, we run the risk that in the general silence, there’ll be the sell off of a whole heritage of work, of know-how, of an economy, of guarantees for the future not just for us but for all Sardinian citizens. This is why we say “enough!” and we are ready, if it could be any help, for the final possible battles: those for the dignity and the right to the future.”
Bruno Cabitza. – Comitato di Lotta degli Esecutati, Riccardo Piras – Altragricoltura Sardegna, Giorgio Matta – Soccorso Contadino Sardegna.


Watch the programme on raiclicktv at 3.07 minutes: www.raiclicktv.it

If the banks, Soru or Prodi want to respond to this letter, the blog is available .

Useful links:
- www.sovranitalimentare.net
- www.soccorsocontadino.eu



Ps: It’s revolutionary to be happy. Put your songs on YouTube with the tag "V-day song".

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 08:39 PM in Economics | Comments (1)
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September 28, 2007

My house cow

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Reduce the price of milk and don’t pay the pizzo to the intermediaries? With cows you can’t. Bureaucracy and the great groups of packaged milk do not tolerate unpackaged milk. Signor Andrea Busetto, a farmer rearing cows, explains how and why. If they take the distributor away from him, the farmers will bring their cows straight into town together with Bersani. Our country is one of positional incomes, of corporations, of castes. We pay the pizzo on everything. It is the State that has corrupted the mafia not the other way round. One cannot even sell the milk from one’s own cow.

“Dear Signor Grillo,
I am Andrea Busetto from Pesaro, 47 years old, I rear cows and bring up 2 children (my wife brings me up).
Two years ago I was one of the first in Italy to try my luck with unprocessed milk. And to tell you the truth I was doing reasonably well, with 6 distributors operating throughout the province. All went well for a year. Then someone started to say (the only company making and selling distributors of unprocessed milk approved in accordance with the decree of the Ministry of Economic Development, COZOSERNO of Novara), that the distribution machines have to conform with metric regulations, the same ones for example that relate to petrol distributors etc.
Bear in mind that neither those who sold us the distributors nor the agricultural unions (all terrible) nor the Finance Police have ever said anything about us doing wrong on this point.
Now however it’s the moment of impounding the distributors throughout italy (written intentionally with a lower case “i”), and the CCIA say that they cannot do otherwise, given that by law it is their role to check, using the metric office, the correctness of the weighing scales and the distributors, to protect the consumers. As long as the supermarkets were selling unpackaged wine no one ever dreamed of raising the matter, now that some dairy farmers are trying their luck with entrepreneurship and to the advantage of consumers, this blow happens and it makes me want to give up and move elsewhere.
Given that you are definitely in tune with a topic like this, I’m begging you to respond to me if you can, or even to use all your really powerful means so that Minister Bersani will do a framework law that makes the regulations the same as those in Switzerland, where for 25 years everything works to the satisfaction of all concerned with machines that have not been calibrated (even Austria, even though it is in the European Union like us, finds nothing wrong in allowing the best dairy farmers to get on with it, and they don’t consider the milk distributors to be metric instruments). Why is it that with us, in a bar, unbottled coca cola can cost 1, 2 or 3 euro a glass that can contain 250 or 500 cc and no one can say anything and yet I, a poor dairy farmer at the end of my tether cannot sell the milk at 1 euro a bottle. (The bottles are all the same if you buy them new, but there are similarly of a known volume if the mineral water bottles are re-used.
If you would like to see my face look on www.lattemontefeltro.com. Thank you.” Andrea Busetto Vicari

PS The cow is not mad. I repeat: The cow is not mad.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:47 PM in Economics | Comments (7)
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The Maroni Law

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The law on precarious workers should be re-labeled with the name of its true owner. That is Roberto Maroni. For the love of truth, the law on precarious work should be called the “Maroni Law” after the Minister of Labour at that time.
Professor Mauro Gallegati shows us the effects of the Maroni and explains to us that there’s no work in Italy. In fact, when there is work, precarious work does not exist and there’s no need for any law.


Dear Beppe,
I would like to offer to the readers of the blog, certain reflections about things that have been read and spoken in the last month in Piazza Maggiore that would have been an insult to Marco Biagi. About unemployment that hardly exists any longer, about flexibility that “creates” work that doesn’t exist.
Let us start by recognizing that there is a distinct difference between Biagi’s “white paper” about employment and law number 30 (that is not Marco Biagi’s law, but rather it is Maroni’s). Biagi’s “white paper” proposed combining flexibility with social re-balancing and a rewriting of the system of social safety nets.
Biagi specifically pointed out 2 matters of social injustice: Intergenerational equity and the different procedures for protecting employed and unemployed people. Basically it pointed out the disadvantage of being young and unemployed (if then you are a woman living in the South…). He wrote: “the structure of the Italian social spending shows a marked emphasis on pensions and a low level of unemployment benefits as well as the social security in favour of those people of working age.” That is: we are spending too little in social safety nets and too much on pensions. And again: in Italy “among the people looking for work there is a high percentage of people looking for their first job, who are not covered by the insurance systems dealing with unemployment”, and that is because “the removal of protection of existing relationships has made it less urgent to supply help for the risk of unemployment and at the same time, producing a big gap between those who are in employment and those who are unemployed. This has restricted the group of potential beneficiaries from accessing unemployment benefits that do in fact exist.” We tend to ignore the importance of the unemployment benefits because these would be useful above all to those who have lost a real job, while in Italy the biggest number of unemployed are those still looking for a job or who are in transit between one precarious position and another.
If someone wanted to call law number 30 the “Biagi law” it is they who are insulting the memory of Marco Biagi, not those who are campaigning against the existence of precarious work. The experience of industrialized countries shows that flexibility does not create work (www.bepress.com) and that without social security flexibility only creates precariousness.
Has law 30 worked? It is often said that after the reform of the labour market, employment figures have increased by 2 million. But the laws on flexibility have produced what economists call the dilution of work: the same quantity of work shared out among more workers as it is basically obvious if 2 precarious workers do the work of one regular worker, but cost a lot less. ISTAT {National statistics body} says that the unemployment rate has been halved between 1997 and today (6.2%). The problem is that a reading of that data must be taken together with data on the number of those who have been discouraged and on the units of work. Taking account of these elements, unemployment is sailing along at well above 10%. ISTAT tells us that in the first quarter of 2007, there were about 1,600,000 unemployed in Italy. Two ISFOL researchers, Mandrone and Massarelli (www.lavoce.info), people who habitually provide numbers that they have reflected on, say that 1 in 4 of the precarious Italian workers is unemployed, or slightly less than half of those without work is a precarious worker. Do we need other data to get worried? Well then just think that when a precarious worker is unemployed, no one is paying the contributions for that miserable pension that he’ll find himself with in a few years and at least 1 million precarious workers in the last 10 years have been working with contributions that will provide a pension below the minimum. Just think that the annual net income of a “permanent” worker is on average 15 thousand € whereas that of a “precarious” worker is 10 thousand €. And then: the 12% of those employed are non typical (but among the young people the percentage goes up to more than 40%) and this figure is due to rise because every year the relationship between “new” precarious workers and those precarious workers that have found stability (that is who have become workers with no time limits) is a factor of 2 to 1. It seems small, but we are already at more than 3 times more than the other workers, and many of these are graduates).
The introduction of atypical work in the forms set out by law number 30, has in fact widened the range of alternatives available to private business in making use of labour: it has broadened the amount of discretion available to the entrepreneur in employing the work force while nothing has budged to protect the rights of the worker? It is possible (necessary?) to bring in social reforms that provide guarantees for the precarious workers. But the true problem is that here there is no work: a country that was considering bringing in customs duties to tackle the competition from Chinese merchandise, not understanding that innovation is the terrain on which to compete and a country that continues to not spend on research, is so short-sighted that the decline that is in view is not inescapable, but probably deserved. Warm greetings.” Mauro Gallegati.


PS. According to one of the main economists of last century, Schumpeter, the Italian school of economics at the end of the nineteenth century, was second to none in the whole world. Two of its main protagonists, Pantaleoni and Pareto, corresponded frequently. Reading it: “well according to you in Italy are the electors or the elected the worst?” Reply: “What a question!”. It’s like asking which pongs the most between shit or ‘merde’” V-Day instead says that we don’t want to die neither as pong-sufferers nor as pong-producers!” Mauro Gallegati


PS Download and distribute the book: "Schiavi Moderni". We have reached 370,000 copies downloaded!

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 12:00 AM in Economics | Comments (9)
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September 24, 2007

TFR: If you switch you are lost

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Investing your end-of-work-lump-sum in shares and bonds has not been a good idea. Luckily 60% of the workers in the private sector have not listened to the Sirens of the private insurance sector and they have done well.
Beppe Scienza explains why.

Dear Beppe,
It’s good to know that I have given good advice. Above all, that way they can’t accuse you of just denouncing things without ever making concrete proposals. The recent falls in shares and bonds show how appropriate it was to keep your TFR. www.beppegrillo.it/eng/2007/06/tfr_muttering.html).
Basically the “referendum” to get rid of the TFR did not get through: more than 60% of the private sector workers chose not to do without it. Newspapers and TV invited them to listen to the politicians and the economists who were friends of the private insurance sector. Instead, the Italians, (rascals that they are!) to a large extent disobeyed Cesare Damiano, the Minister of Labour and the former director of the pension fund, they disobeyed the Bocconi professor Tito Boeri, Giuliano Cazzola and Marcello Messori, who moved from Fondazione Di Vittorio to Assogestioni, the association for managed savings (certain intellectuals are really champions of transformation).
They preferred to listen to Beppe Grillo and a few others who advised them to keep the TFR, as I did in the book: “La pensione tradita” {the pension betrayed} (www.fazieditore.it)) or Giuseppe Altamore in “Famiglia Cristiana” (www.sanpaolo.org). Or more simply, they have listened to common sense. Thus now they can lounge about, watching the turbulence in the financial markets with detachment.
The Italian workers who have gone over to the pension funds are right to be worried. Since June, the American Stock Exchange has gone down by 2%, the European ones by 3.5% and the Italian one by a massive 6%. The crisis in America of the mortgages called sub-prime has set off a series of collapses that are causing many of those trapped in the private social insurance systems to lose money.
But the worst thing is the lack of transparency. In the Italian pension funds are there bonds connected with the sub-prime mortgages that have gone belly-up? In their portfolios are there other unexploded mines? Probably. But it’s not possible to find out because the complete list of shares that they hold is kept a close secret.” Beppe Scienza

PS. I have cancelled the two shows at Trento and Novara. I’ve done too much shouting and I’ve lost my voice. Don’t worry: The strawberries are ripe. I repeat: the strawberries are ripe.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 08:46 PM in Economics | Comments (11)
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September 21, 2007

Without work, without anything

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In Italy anyone who loses their job, loses everything. Whoever has a family to keep and from one day to the next finds themselves out on the streets has no social protection. They are expelled from the system. Paying taxes for twenty or thirty years gives them no rights. To be an Italian citizen gives no protection. The State is absent.
The real problem is not due to the laws about precarious working but the lack of work.
I have been told about a letter sent to Corrado Augias in his column "Lettere&Commenti" {Letters and Comments} and I’m publishing a summary of it. It describes a situation that is common to tens of thousands of people who first lose their job and then lose hope.
If any entrepreneur is listening, let them help this family.
”From the moment when my husband and I were spending a few days holiday with our ten year old daughter and we had to come back early because my husband suddenly lost his job, without any warning, our world fell about our ears. He had been in the job for 30 years and was 52 years old.
I am working part-time and my salary is about 500 euro. Even though I try hard, luck hasn’t helped me enough to get a better wage.
My husband has replied to different job adverts and is willing to do any type of work, but nothing. We have even been to the social services to have at least some kind of financial help while waiting for a job. Among other things, the school has started again, the school fees, the utility bills, the rent, and now there’s the risk that we will be evicted. And yet we even need to eat. We have heard that with my income of 500euro, it’s possible to live, by law. I challenge anyone to do that with a rent that is the same as my income.

I am overcome with sorrow and I am feeling tortured as a mother because I cannot provide the primary needs of my daughter, which is naturally my first thought.
How can the institutions be so cruel to people who suddenly find themselves having to face up to situations like this that are not their fault?
Maria Grazia Spadaro
mgarte@yahoo.it

PS: Download and distribute:: “Schiavi Moderni” {Modern Slaves}. Only yesterday 20,000 copies were downloaded. That makes a total of 280,000 so far.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 06:18 PM in Economics | Comments (18)
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September 20, 2007

Precarious workers, seduced and abandoned



Marco Travaglio has launched “Signornò” {No Sir!}, a new column in l’Espresso. It started with the precarious ones and then there’s the demonstration on 20 October. Not just the “radical left”, the fight against precariousness with the reform of the law 30 was in the election manifesto of the Unione, even though many people in the Unione have forgotten that. But we don’t forget anything.
”So it’s official, the demonstration on 20 October is about welfare and it’s against precariousness. It’s promoted by the “radical left” and it’s an attack against the Prodi government. “A contradiction that cannot be rectified” thunders D’Alema. “an initiative in error”, says Fassino. “No Ministers in the streets”, from Veltroni and Bindi. For once they all agree so well. “If Ministers go out into the streets, it means there’s a government crisis”, threatens Mastella. Even Mussi of the Democratic Left holds back: “Better to have a meeting inside a building.” Unfortunately, without considering whether or not the motivation of the promoters is just, no one is saying why going out into the streets would be such a horrendous thing to do. Especially considering that the revisiting of the law 30 (wrongly called “Biagi”) is written into the election manifesto “For the good of Italy”, on the basis of which the Unione was voted into power giving rise to the Prodi government.
In the tome of 282 pages, the running sore of the precarious workers is cited a good 28 times. “To make the fragmentation of the world of work even more fragmented, the ‘Maroni’ law (law n. 30/2003) entered the field…We are against the contents of the law 30…. For us, the normal form of employment is a normal work contract without a time limit, because we believe that all the people must be able to construct for themselves the prospect of serene life and work (161-162). “The extension of precariousness has contributed to the worsening of the safety conditions in the work place.” (163)
Who is threatening the government then? Who is asking that the manifesto be respected? Or who is forgetting that they signed it? On 2 August, Prodi wrote to the leaders of the left: “In the Autumn, I really would like there to be the demonstration that has been talked about: out in the open air and in the work places. Take with you your issues, popular pride, triggers and naturally criticism”.
There’s no lack of precedence. On 22 March 1997, D’Alema, the DS Secretary, marched with Bertinotti and the Trades Unions “to press – recalls the former trades unionist D’Antoni - the first Prodi government about the issue of employment” And last spring, Mastella demonstrated on Family Day against the DDL on the Dico issue written by two Ministers of his government. Now, to those who remind him of this he says: “Yes, but it is very different, because I did not promote the demonstration.” In fact it was promoted by the friends of Pezzotta and the Cdl,, that is by the opposition. And he was marching with Berlusconi, Fini and Casini: but to lend a hand to Prodi of course.”
Marco Travaglio

PS: Download and distribute “Schiavi Moderni” {Modern Slaves} (260.000 copies downloaded).

PPS: I’ve been told about an initiative for 6 October in Rome called: “From V-Day to the National Civic List” by Roberto Alagna, Oliviero Beha, Pancho Pardi, and Elio Veltri. I want to let you know that I have NOTHING TO DO WITH the National Civic List that is being proposed.

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September 05, 2007

Golden milk, silver horn

latte_fresco.jpg
photo by matteopenzo

Last Sunday the cows came down to the valleys. In piazza San Carlo in Turin, the good people of the city incorporating a car park, were protesting about the expensive milk. The cows are milked as well as the consumers.
From the cowshed to the table, milk is subject to a financial transformation. A litre goes from 0.32 cents to 1.4 euro a litre. To the producer, milk is valued at less than mineral water. Often the cow owner doesn’t cover the costs.
The Coldiretti protests for the management of milk quotas. They ask that the provenance of milk and its derivatives should be indicated so that we can avoid eating Belgian or Ukrainian milk products sold as Italian. The milk quotas have had up and down times. The memory of manure splattered at a State official is still vivid. I have to admit, as regards the milk quotas I’m still investigating but with limited results. I don’t understand why Italy, with demand that is greater than the supply set down in law, is obliging the producers to close down or to throw away excess milk. I don’t understand why we can’t buy unbottled milk directly from the associations of producers in public distribution points. The cost would be less than a euro a litre. We wouldn’t throw the bottle away. We wouldn’t be fattening up the parasites on the cows: the distributors, the transporters and the advertisers. And we’d know where the milk is coming from. We could even adopt a cow at a distance.. We could go and visit it every so often with the children. A tour of the cowshed at the weekend, like you do with the wine cellars.
The Coldiretti estimates family expenditure on food and drink as 467 euro a month. 230 euro (51%) goes on sales and services, 140 (30%) to the food industry and 89 (19%) to the producers. Producers and consumers count as much as the 2 of spades in briscola or like Fassino in the DS. Prices go up, but the prices of what, if milk increases its value by almost fivefold from the cow to the supermarket?

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August 27, 2007

The sweetness of the public debt

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photo by janet7r

Taxes and the resulting income derived from them are going up. In the first 6 months the State gathered in 179,900,000,000 euro with an increase of 13,400,000,000 with respect to the same period for the previous year.
If more money is coming to the State, that should reduce the public debt, but instead it’s going up. By May 2007 it had arrived at 1,626,316,000,000 euro. In a month it increased by 17,000,000,000 euro. That’s 204,000,000,000euro a year, eight budgets.
The equation "tax increase= increase in public debt" is a sadomasochistic practice exercised on the tax payers. The more they pay, the more they get into debt. The debt is not called public by chance. In fact it is a burden on the citizens. It’s as though we had entrusted our current account to Prodi and at each increase of our earnings there were a corresponding increase in our outgoings. The more we hand over, the less money we have and the more we get our children into debt. The increase in the debt is due to the greater costs of the public administration. “Pubblico ergo debito.”
Once upon a time, the debt was managed by inflation, but Padoa Schioppa cannot devalue the euro. We’re left with the State bonds, the BOTs and the CCTs. The public debt offered to the citizens who buys and increases it. The interest paid out on the bonds in fact increases the State’s debt. These are perversions not economy. Group orgies in the dark with no prisoners taken.
It’s immoral to increase taxes and increase the debt. Any old ordinary administrator of a condominium would be thrown out. The next budget must eliminate costs, not increase the tax receipts, otherwise they are pulling our legs. A budget that has a decrease of 100,000,000,000,000 euro in State costs. The ri-sa-na-mento {making things OK once more}, this magic word that the trimurti ProdiSchioppaVisco, spell out, is just thin air. For confirmation, check up on (your) public debt.

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August 21, 2007

The red line

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On the horizon there’s the red line: the end of oil. Where is it placed? At 15, 30 years? We know for certain that we will see a post-oil world. Similar to but different from the post-bomb scenarios. No one can say with certainty how much oil remains. Almost all agree that half has already been used. The cheapest, the part nearest the surface. To extract oil costs energy. If it takes 2 litres of oil to extract one, then it’s not worth it. The oil in the Mariana Trench is not economic.
What will happen after the end of oil, and above all what will happen before that?
States work on energy. At a well that’s drying up, only the strongest animals get to drink. The armed States will drink the oil, and towards the end, when the well has become a puddle, they will fight each other.
Alternative energies cannot in the medium term, be a substitute for oil. There will be a transition period of at least decades. Before the economy of oil, there were one thousand million of us. Now there are six thousand million. Will we go back to being one thousand million? Agriculture needs oil, machines and fertilizer; without that there’s famine.
Whole zones of the planet are not self-sustaining. Without transport, they will close down. The neighbour’s grass will get greener and the neighbour will not want to share. The transport of goods will become a luxury. Tomatoes from China and tin baskets from Mexico will become an obscene memory. The outskirts of the cities without supermarkets, gas, oil, fields, water will not be great places to live. If it’s possible, they’ll be worse than now.
After the red line, what’s waiting for us is neo feudalism. The land, the communities, the animals, relationships, the capacity of individuals will become important. While waiting for a new form of universal energy that perhaps we would willingly do without.

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August 12, 2007

Prodi’s gold

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It’s a very worrying time. The stock markets are crashing. The GDP is not growing. However the public employees are always growing. Useless organisations are multiplying. The salaries of councillors, deputies and senators are definitely above the European average. The banks are reassuring. And the more they are reassuring the more worrying it is for us. The value of real estate is going down, but the interest rates for the variable rate mortgages are going up. You pay more to have less. The beaches are half empty and the hotels half full.
An economic war has been declared on the Italians. And to win it we need extraordinary measures. Visco, our V2, is not enough. They have let it go on Valentino Rossi in London. But it’s small fry. Those who don’t pay taxes no longer sin, according to Famiglia Cristiana. It depends on what you pay and to do what. Put like that it’s an encouragement (but correct) to dodge.
Prodi has had a spin on his bike at Predappio. While meditating in front of il Duce’s tomb he found inspiration. If Mussolini asked for gold for the country, he would have asked for gold from the country. He would have used our gold reserves to reduce the debt. Straight away he talked to his wife about it and she stayed silent for a day and then she zoomed off to the psychiatrist. Before Prodi, no one thought about it, and what’s more they didn’t say it. If the public debt, as the words say, is ours then so is the gold. It doesn’t belong to the government, it belongs to the Italians. The State machinery is rubbish. No sane person, wants to have anything to do with it if they can help it. And it costs, it costs a lot. In certain Italian regions, in the South, the Centre, the North it is the main employer. Two million public employees fewer. This must be your objective, employee Prodi. Take notes. Leave the gold where it is.

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August 05, 2007

Golden shit

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photo by psyhiro
The banks can be better than the “magliari” and much better than the mafia. There’s no limit to their creative finance. Or rather, the limit is the crack, the bubble, the crisis in the market. When savers lose everything, then the creativity leaves the space to the analysis by the economists who explain well in great detail, but always later. Whoever has lost everything, while they are reading, always feels the desire to meet them one evening with a sledgehammer.
The banks, especially the American ones, for years have been applying the infernal mechanism to mortgages. It works like this. The bank grants a mortgage to a person who is at risk. “Subprime” mortgages for which there’s no verification of the source of income of those asking for the mortgage. “Alt-a” mortgages given with a simple declaration. The more mortgages, the more the money for the banks. The bank gains on the interest payments on the mortgage, but the risk is high. Because whoever has taken out the mortgage might not pay it back. So the bank packages the mortgages in investment funds, a bit like transforming shit into gold.
The mortgages on sale are called CDO, Collateralised Debt Obligations. In practice what happens is that the banks sell the debts of people who are insolvent. With a treble gain: from the mortgage, from the fund and by eliminating the risk. In theory the CDO can be inserted in any fund. The unknowing buyer could discover that in the next few days. In fact, the value of the real estate market in the United States has been in free fall for months, the Americans are no longer managing to make their payments, the funds are plummeting.
It’s not known where the CDO’s have finished up. In which banks, in which countries, in which funds. If it’s your turn, it’s your turn. It’s the capitalism of debt, beautiful. The one that invents wealth and destroys the savers.

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July 30, 2007

The disappearance of the future

einstein.jpg
Costs, money, big steps and little steps, tax inducements, payments. The joyous costs of the Caste. The little treasure chest, ah the little treasure chest. Money, costs, costs, money. We have become a nation of accountants, of wretches, of rich, of lower middle class wanting to be emancipated. Of temporary loans, mortgages, reduction in ICI and increase in the refuse collection costs. The poorer we are the more we think of money. The richer we are the more we think of money. The Finance law, consumer credit, the Tan {annual rate}, Taeg {global effective annual rate}, inflation, interest rates, variable rates, fixed rates. Bank returns, shares, bonds, futures, derivatives. The public debt that is above us and nullifies every public discourse. Everything depends on the public debt. Financing, repurchase agreements, refinancing, loans for a quarter, fifth, third of your salary, for everything. Advertising communicates money, asks for money, offers money in exchange for debts, for other money. Lower rates, higher rates. The job offers money. Work is a risk and a commitment. Italians want a job, money. The future of the country has disappeared for public debate, from private debates, from discussions in the local. In the United States, the first question is: “How much do you earn?” In Italy: “How big is your debt?”. The more you have debts, the more you are important. The more you create, the more you are respected. You can become the President of the Council or of Mediobanca. Debt is the engine for social promotion. Whoever doesn’t have debt can have it. Evolve. It’s an inverted wage-inflation linkage. A commercialization of the State, of the parties, of society, of the family. A virus that sucks out the future. What are the priorities of the country? The big step, the increases in public sector pay scales, the democratic party? Or the regions in the hands of the mafia? Information that is eaten up by the local house of liberties and by the party secretaries, the incapacity to innovate, research that is betrayed, the brain drain? To be or to have? Italy is not and has not. It’s a hybrid, a cross, a chimera. A country in a coma that is counting the small change with the spectacles of a blind man.


PS:
Monday 30 July 2007, the excavators of Idrea srl will move into action.
Make haste in great numbers to join with the Committee to defend rio fergia, to suspend this injustice until all the anomalies denounced by the committee, the people, the meet-ups, and the Minister for Culture, have been clarified and sorted out.
The place to meet is at the headquarters in the Boschetto zone, a few kilometres from Gualdo Tadino (PG)

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July 21, 2007

Unending Steps

infine_stairs.jpg

by LMDocherty

The little steps, the big steps and the related step-words are in the war of words between the government and the Trades Unions. They create confusion. It’s of little interest to young people, they are the modern slaves and they won’t have a pension. They’ll die before that. Meanwhile they are paying for the current pensioners. It is right that those who do not have other means of support should have a minimum dignified pension. It is however a way of laughing in your face when millions of pensioners get a pension that is worth more than they ever paid in. And that the difference is paid by the young people.
I’m publishing a letter from prof. Gallegati about the Prodi reform

After that I’m publishing the umpteenth testimony from the book Schiavi Moderni (150,000 copies downloaded).

“Dear Beppe,

The Maroni reform established pensionable age to be 60 for those workers who retire from January 2008; the Dini reform sees the ten-yearly revision of the transformation coefficients that determine the value of the pensions with the new contribution system, bearing in mind the lengthening of a lifetime.

Prodi has reformed the reforms. I would like to invite the blog readers to reflect on this question: what will happen to the pensions of young people and of the so-called oppressed workers (including modern slaves)?

Because of the “discontinuous” work and the aging of the population, the young generations (the pensioners of 2025) will realise that they are poorer than their parents and won’t be able to retire at age 60, but will have to go on and work until age 70 so as to survive. To avoid such a drama, we must increase the pension age and review the transformation coefficients: it would be an element of inter-generational equity not to load the costs of getting old onto future generations. In a society where we live now to more than 80 years of age, it’s not fair to work for 35 years and then spend the next 20-25 years being supported by young people.

The ratio between the number of workers and the number of pensioners has made a major leap down (it has gone from 4 to 1 in 40 years). To Italy's disadvantage, there are two elements:

- lower levels of fecundity and higher levels of longevity with respect to other developed countries: aging is more marked than elsewhere,

- the number of workers doesn’t grow fast enough, because of the progressive stalling of the economy: the GDP of the promised “Berlusconi economic miracle” has grown by 2.2% in 4 years, the same percentage that “the economic miracle of the 1960s” saw in a bit less than 4 months, and the lowest participation in the workforce of women and young people.

Alternative ways of getting pensions for the “over-50s” are an important objective, but what must have priority are alternative mechanisms to those established by the Biagi law that encourage the stable entry into the labour market of young people and an increase in female participation with a reform of the welfare system.

Employment levels for young people in Italy are among the lowest for developed countries. The time needed to get the first job has increased, and all this with low starting salaries and a welfare system that gives no social protection for young people and gives the lowest rate of female participation in Europe. We will have to adopt measures that redress the delayed entry of young people and of women into the labour market (and working conditions at the beginning of the career that are less precarious) together with the reform of the welfare system and the transformation coefficients that give fairness between the generations.” Mauro Gallegati.


240 contracts before getting a pension

“Since 2000 I’ve been working in civil aviation. First in a company where they filled their pockets really well and then, obviously it went bust (false accounting meant that hundreds of workers stayed home: it’s not just a crime against capital, it’s a social drama).

Then even the other companies feel the weight of the crisis, a forty-year old with an enviable CV looks around and only finds jobs at 900 euro a month for a contract lasting a maximum of two months. With the new regulations, should I be working for another 20 years? Do I have to build up 240 contracts? Can I no longer make plans, receive loans? Does it have any sense to live like that? This is not life, it’s survival, to make someone rich. I’m wondering whether it’s worth renouncing even to survive.”

B. C. 12.03.2006 09:21

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July 17, 2007

The New Bankers

vampiri.jpg
photo by Julien Magnat


Draghi, the Governor of the Bank of Italy, has asked the banks to reduce the cost of services. And to get in line with Europe. Profumo has replied.

He shouldn’t have done. Since he’s been living with Geronzi, the convict, he’s not been himself. Every morning he asks his private mirror: “Who is the most beautiful banker in the realm?” And the mirror always replies: “It’ll go to Banca Intesa”. He’s destroyed, he’s a man injured by banking love. But not for this must he put into the market the thoughts of usurious banks.

The cost of mortgages, he explained, are higher in Italy than the average in Europe because there are “different conditions”. “In Italy it takes 7 years to get a house for those without a mortgage, in Germany 12 months”.


A Cartesian way of reasoning, the entrepreneurial risk all falls on the client, on everyone: on those who pay for a mortgage and on those who don’t.

Thus, every citizen should be able to invoke the “different conditions” in case of difficulty. And act accordingly. Not pay taxes because the State doesn’t provide adequate services. Not pay for the motorways because the travel times doubles because of road works. Not pay Ici because the State doesn’t reimburse the tax credits. Not pay the insurance because it’s too costly. Not pay more than 50 cents for a coffee.

Furthermore, when faced with “different conditions” the Italian unilaterally increase the prices of what he sells, including his own labour. Basically copy the banks.

The cost of money has reached the stars, those that can’t manage with a variable rate mortgage , have two choices: either they “let the bank take the house” or they finish up in the hands of usurers. Tens of thousands of families are losing their homes, perhaps after 7 years, as Profumo says. But who advised the families to get a variable rate mortgage? Perhaps the banks? And who gains in the end, as always, from the “different conditions”? To find out, read the Unicredit quarterly report : 3,191,000,000 euro as operating profit in the first 3 months of 2007.

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June 29, 2007

Precarious State

Beppe_Tarzan.jpg

drawing by The Hand from "Schiavi Moderni" {Modern Slaves}

Prodi, our precarious employee has said many times that the fight against precariousness is a priority of his government. Thus one could ask why precariousness is so widespread right inside the public sector employment.
Those who are precarious, apart from the usual teachers, are even those who supply information to the social insurance bodies, work and pensions. A paradox.
I’m publishing a letter from professor Gallegati of the Economics Department in the Università Politecnica delle Marche about the government’s proposal to modify the Biagi law.
After that I’m publishing the umpteenth witness statement from the book Schiavi Moderni (100,000 copies downloaded).


Dear Beppe,
Roberto Leombruni and I have considered the government’s proposal to modify the Biagi law.
Precariousness, here’s the slowly-slowly plan of the government.
There are three proposals and for these Damiano deserves a “plus”, an “equals”
and a “minus” on the record sheet.

- on fixed-length contracts. By definition they are contracts that have a duration with a limited time: if a company wants a worker for longer than that there’s a normal contract, with unlimited time. However since 2001, these can be repeated as often as required as long as there’s a gap of 20 days between the end of one contract and the beginning of the next. It’s the vision of virginity of the Centre Right, after 20 days of abstinence, the lasses regain their virginity. Quite rightly, Damiano would like things to return to a natural state without an employee having to wait 20 days without a salary waiting to be once more appetising to the company. “Plus”

- On minor contracts according to Biagi. The government intends to cancel staff leasing and on-call working. As Ichino has rightly observed in il Corriere, there are methods for laying down rules (that support the workers) for practices that exist even independently of the Biagi law. Because the “one day waitresses” will always exist, and because the cooperatives that take on a contract for cleaning the mayor’s toilet and get a cococò to do the work, are worse – for the worker – than staff leasing. The fact is that the Biagi law has a “bad reputation” and to reform it will present a good image. “Equals” (not “minus” because anyway, the Confindustria admits that these are hardly ever used by the companies)

- Parasubordinato. What is proposed is also a new increase in the social security contributions for the “parasubordinati”, who already in the last Budget went from 18% to 23.5% and who could go up to 25-26%. The government tells us that the measure would guarantee the young people a minimum pension.
Good, at last they have confessed.
At least a million young Italians for ten years (from the time when Treu brought in the separate management in 1996) have worked without putting aside sufficient contributions to guarantee them a minimum pension, often with an income that would not have allowed them to even remotely consider paying for alternative pension schemes.
Given that the guilt has been confessed, the solution is not "scurdammoce o
passato": the correct amount is 25-26%? OK, let’s give those million young people a notional contribution that goes towards filling the gap of unpaid contributions over ten years. “Minus”, expecting a “plus”.”
Mauro Gallegati and Roberto Leombruni



Training programme/work
”I’m 34 years old and for a good four years I have been a precarious worker with a public administration of red political beliefs (the Training programme/work of a beautiful Tuscan Province) Yes, exactly, the service for training for work, active in making policies for employment to combat unlawful working and unemployment, the one that was the first to use the loop-holes offered by the Biagi reform and even before the contracts brought in by minister Treu, whose names remind one of birds who are not particularly intelligent!
Known as co.co.co. I am right in the employment centre (previously placement
service) and my job is to look after young people and apprentices, and I see things…. To be in the employment centre as a precarious unemployed (my job is about to finish) and help others find a job is like being tied up and gagged on the throne of the chef in the kitchen of a Grand Hotel with stomach cramps eating away at you because of hunger. Not just the swindle, but the sick joke… I got the job with a public selection process: first prize: a co.co.co contract (8 months of work alternating with 4 months of an iron diet of air and swearing) then with time transformed into a costly registration as a freelance worker (the cost was halved for half the hours) that is useful to give a living wage to my dear accountant but not to me (poor thing, when he calls me to tell me of the regular costs that I have to pay, he mutters with embarrassment as though he had just suddenly realized that he’s got his flies open in front of the incredulous gaze of a young virgin nun!
He’s a good person and his empathy these days is really moving… and at times I feel like calming him down saying things like “you know now I’m going to get another job and by the end of the year I’ll have finished with all this”, “Good… Let’s hope it works out”, is his reply.) Registering with the tax authorities as a freelance (a device to camouflage working as an employee) was not suggested to me by the Public Administration, it was imposed as an ultimatum.”
L. A. 09.05.2006 10:14

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June 24, 2007

Old and Poor

vecchio.jpg

Old folk will finally be able to ask for a loan. Even if they are 90 years old. And they can make a future for themselves with a 40 year mortgage on their first house. It's never too late. Only one requirement is necessary: to be a state pensioner. The loan will be laid on by Inpdap thanks to a "solidarity contribution" taken out of the pension every month.
Tacitly and elegantly. In the style of Arsène Lupin, with the usual trick of silent consent.
Once upon a time, silence was golden, now it has the smell of shit. The dextrous withdrawal from the pension will make the pensioners poorer but at the same time it will allow them to take part in the loans lottery. It's a lottery because the loan is discretional, and is decided by Inpdap on a case by case basis.
It's all true. It's a decree from the Ministry of the Economy. Believe me, it's always them. Always ready to pounce. From the night-time withdrawal from our current accounts by Amato, to the snatching of the TFR.
The letter from a blogger explains all:

"Dear Beppe,
The Ministry of the Economy has made a decree that establishes that public employees must accept a tax (more than anything it's an extortion) called "Solidarity contribution", that obliges them to be signed up to the Unified Management of credit and social loans of Inpdap. Those who must sign up are those pensioners getting pensions through Inpdap as well as employees and pensioners of those bodies and public administrations that have pension arrangements with pension providers other than Inpdap itself.
The decree establishes that the employees who are still working and the Inpdap pensioners (but even those who that have pension arrangements with pension providers other than Inpdap) starting from the month that follows 6 months after the regulation comes into force are automatically signed up.
The regulation is Regolamento di attuazione dell'articolo unico, comma 347 della legge 23 dicembre 2005 n.266" (Legge Finanziaria 2006). They are signed up to the Unified Management of credit and social loans and are obliged to pay contributions equal to:
- 0.35% of the pension contribution (for those still working)
- 0.15% of the pension received (for pensioners)
The "gabelle" will be deducted monthly from what is paid out to workers and pensioners starting from the date of their forced signing up (the relevant period started 25.04.07) unless a notification declining the registration arrives from the worker/pensioner. Naturally if someone doesn't want their money to be taken for a ride, start writing the little letter to Inpdap and do that within 6 months, otherwise the rule of silent consent will be applied.
That's how the government acts with the weak. They squeeze you on salaries and pensions, which among other things are among the lowest in Europe, but they give you the chance to not be robbed with a light heart.
According to the Cisal Fipal this operational trickery is similar to the one for the pension funds that will replace the TFR. And anyway, just as for the funds, the obligatory registration with this Unified Management is a disadvantage for the workers.
Especially for those who are a long way from their pensions. They can already access socially-assisted loans and mortgages from INPS without any important limitations. Whereas, Inpdap creates a complicated points system every year to establish access to these benefits, with time scales that vary as time goes by.
Furthermore, it's not economic even for all employees near to pension age who have no intention to get a loan after their pension or who don't want to keep on with loans they have already taken out, which could make a difference to their end of work lump sum payment.
Which means that we have a big tax brother with a sinister face watching over us and who establishes (according to well known studies in the sector) what we have to earn to be on the right path with their pathetic forecasts.
Now they even try to grab our cash without letting us understand a thing and with the formula of silent consent. More sinister than that is really not possible."
AM.

PS Click this link for further explanations and the form to opt out.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 08:01 PM in Economics | Comments (1)
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June 23, 2007

The outbound slave



Anyone who denounces the effects of the Biagi law or of the Treu law (1997 employment law) is a visionary or a terrorist. In Italy everything’s OK: unemployment no longer exists, we are at record lows. And it’s true, from unemployment we have passed directly to slavery.
Professor Gallegati of the Economics Department of the Università Politecnica delle Marche has made some remarks about the latest data on unemployment. Is it that he too is a terrorist?
Together with his letter, I am publishing one of the 20,000 cases of slavery that have been made known to me. This one is in the book Schiavi Moderni {Modern Slaves} (71,000 copies have been downloaded). You laugh to not cry.

Dear Beppe,
It seems that the government will try to get its hands dirty by altering the “Biagi law”. Before considering the value of the action, let’s take a look at the data, for once really timely, updated the other day, on the precarious workers.
The length of the new contracts offers, on its own, a worrying signal: for more than 60%, it’s less than 3 months and only 2% have a duration of a year or more. Of the first group, half have a contract of one month, while one in 5 workers have a contract of one week (obviously 5 days).
The Economic Bulletin of the Bank of Italy tells us that almost 50% of young workers are taken on with short-term contracts. It’ll be said that’s worrying.
Well then what can be said when you discover that of these people newly taken on, less than 10% in a year see their contract transformed into a contract without time limit.
Apart form some “market fundamentalist”, there is by now too much evidence that the Biagi law has not been able to offer a serious response to the persistent fragmentation (by territory, by generation and by gender) of the employment market.
As well as that (see the postscript to Schiavi Moderni) how will these “precarious workers” pay their pension? What would be needed is a long lasting reform that can offer these young workers a possibility of stability. The data shows that once a short-term contract ends, there’s almost no prospect of a long term one.
To safeguard the flexibility without making people’s lives precarious is what must be demanded.
A possibility to promote a lasting entrance into the labour market is the French model, this uses a gradual introduction of forms of protection of the position, as a safeguard against losing the job, that increases gradually, as the time spent in a job with a company increases.
All this should happen within the realm of an open-ended contract, the same for everyone and independent of the age of the worker. At the same time, the maximum length of a short-term contract should be reduced to 10-12 months.
The challenge is: will young workers accept a route towards stability by starting out with a contract that only in theory has no limits on the time frame?
A second possibility is proposed by the Danish model with its "flexsecurity", that is economic flexibility with social security.
In Denmark a job lasts an average of 4 years and every Danish person changes employer at least 5 times during their working lives.
Entrepreneurs have great freedom to dismiss, while the worker who has been sacked, from the first day of unemployment gets a payment from the State equal to 80-90% of their salary for 4 years.
It’s a social model that aims to save people rather than jobs, investing in the training of workers to get them ready for new sectors.
A model that is fairly costly. And Italy, with its debt, could only allow itself this by recovering the taxes that are dodged (just remember that this is equivalent to 5 substantial budgets each year).
The “Biagi law” has become the litmus paper of the visions of capitalism, of 2 fundamentalisms, between State and market. The State must and can transform the precarious working into flexible working. The plan to reform law 30 is going too slowly.
warm greetings
Mauro Gallegati
A Master’s under my belt from "Schiavi Moderni"
"I too am a Call Centre worker. I’m 27 years old I’ve got a degree and then a Masters under my belt. I am one of those who are highly qualified but struggle to find a dignified job who falls back onto a Call Centre to have a few hundred euro extra in my pocket.
I too am a modern slave. About a month and a half ago I was taken on as an Outbound operator (basically you have to annoy people until 9:30 in the evening!) for an English school in Naples at 5 € gross per hour. It’s useless to tell you that in this Call Centre we are all graduates or on the way to being graduates (as they can choose, they choose the best obviously!).
This morning I was called in by my line manager to discuss my recent productivity: and according to him it’s low and it’s compounded by my behaviour “arrogant towards him”. Which when translated means that I refused to come to work early without having the extra time counted, asking for the copy of the contract that we have signed without the end date, and the most serious of all, expressing my ideas
(I’d like to make clear anyway that my productivity is not so low: I have never been absent in the month of March and I have already made a couple of useful contacts towards the objectives of the month)
I’m sure that all those who work and have worked, and will work in this Call Centre, sign short-term work contracts with the end date left blank and above all without ever receiving the signed copy (the luckiest have at the most a photocopy!)
The line manager, after pathetically talking about my “subversive” behaviour invited me to sign a letter of resignation and when I refused he got cross and said that just for that I deserved to be sent home (not wishing to sign a resignation letter?) As he was evidently in difficulty he invited me to talk to the director saying that he didn’t want any more chaos and that I was annoying.”
L. F. 10.03.2006 18:14

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:14 AM in Economics | Comments (3)
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June 07, 2007

TFR muttering…….

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Piave murmurs: Don’t let the pension fund pass. Defend your TFR {lump sum you get when you end your employment}.
If you work in the private sector and by the end of June you’ve said nothing, then your TFR will end up in the managed savings.
An adventure to make your pulse flutter. For twenty years the common funds have been making people lose money. And the pension funds are ready to repeat the same disasters.
The silent assent is a trap. They change the cards on the table without asking you anything. It’s the game of the three tokens with a lifetime’s load of money. It’s not true that they construct an integrated pension: they give the TFR as scrap to the industry of the managed savings. The TFR has been in existence since 1982. It has worked well for 25 years.
It is dangerous to play for the pension at roulette. To play on the Stock Exchange. If you are lucky you gain, but if it goes badly you lose a chunk of your savings.
If a financial consultant is ogling your TFR, your treasure chest, ask him to respond to these points:
- no pension fund protects from inflation like the TFR, the tax advantages of the integrated scheme are eaten up by the costs
- in lean years a big part of your savings go up in smoke
- if you sign up to the integrated scheme you are tying yourself in until you get your pension
- the TFR is safe even if the company were to go bust because it is guaranteed by INPS
- if you are sacked you get it straight away, that wouldn’t be the case for the pension fund.

The TFR reform is a perfect example of the bipartisan law. Berlusconi created it and Prodi hasn’t changed anything. There’s a book that explains how to defend yourself, it’s “La pensione tradita” by Beppe Scienza. The message of the book is extraordinary: don’t move, stay where you are, every tiny movement could be used against you. At least don’t give them the chance.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 03:53 PM in Economics | Comments (6)
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June 02, 2007

The Strange Couple

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The magazine, Internazionale, has published my article on the strange couple Profumo and Geronzi, the banker admired in Europe and the one convicted for bankruptcy. An all-Italian miracle.
Economy and the rule of law are two sides of the same coin. Without the rule of law, the economy is subject to a transformation: it becomes spaghetti-economy. What does this deviation from Adam Smith’s principles consist of?
There’s a text-book case to be taught in all Italian Economics Faculties. Imagine a block of cold spaghetti, a few days old, a white block, disgusting to look at. Select any single piece and try and pull it.
It will resist courageously. It will obstinately stay twisted up with the other strands.
You’ll never know where it finishes, or how long it is.
If you pull the spaghetti strand called Parmalat, where does it end? And the ones called Cirio, Banca Popolare di Lodi, Banca 121, or tango bond?
You have to make do with a view of the whole lot, outside the ball of spaghetti. It’s disgusting and that’s that. You can’t investigate further.
The conflicts of interest are so intertwined that a banker can also be a publisher, for example of il Corriere della Sera, an industrialist, on 2 Boards of Directors, can sell and buy from himself, an auditor can also be an administrator, a convict can be a president or a manager.
Economics, politics and publishing are a single thing. A triad that controls the System. An organisation defined by not snitching, much more powerful than the Camorra System denounced by Saviano in ‘Gomorra’. The merger of the two banks Unicredit and Capitalia is a demonstration of how the system protects itself.
In recent years Capitalia has been partly cleaned up, reorganized, returned to its ‘core business’ from the previous commercial management carried out in the corridors of Montecitorio. Before it was a bank to facilitate bipartisan politics.
Thanks to the CEO, Matteo Arpe, just a bit more than 40 years old. Arpe is one of the few bankers held in high esteem in the international financial world. He was against a series of manoeuvres by Cesare Geronzi, Capitalia’s 70-something president.
Geronzi tried to get rid of him. Arpe stayed in place thanks to the backing of foreign investors.
But who is Cesare Geronzi? His CV would be the envy of Al Capone.
The prosecutor of Parma asked for Geronzi to be debarred from being the president of Capitalia.
A Capitalia director, Andrea Del Moretto, had already discovered in 2002 how things were going in Parmalat, with bonds worth 7 thousand, million euro as opposed to the one thousand two hundred million declared on the balance sheet.
Geronzi did nothing. He didn’t withdraw credit to Parmalat and for more than a year they sold bonds with a hole inside.
Geronzi was convicted of preferential bankruptcy and sentenced to one year eight months in prison for the Italcase collapse by the Brescia Tribunal. The Board of Directors has obviously confirmed Geronzi in his position.
The merger with Unicredit creates the biggest Italian Bank. Profumo and Geronzi are triumphant on the pages of the newspapers. D’Arpe has resigned. Perhaps he’ll go abroad. The umpteenth brain drained.
D’Alema and Berlusconi are happy together with a well nourished group of politicians. Very happy. Perhaps too happy.
Geronzi is vice president of the Unicredit group, a 100,000,000,000 euro bank with shares quoted everywhere. In the media, with RCS, with the commercial banks, with Mediobanca.
It is said that Profumo will take care of the bank, and thus of the business, and Geronzi will take care of participation, thus of politics.
The best Italian banker at the side of Geronzi, the convict, is the photo of a collapse. The economy is based on reputation and we have lost that some time ago.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:12 AM in Economics | Comments (1)
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April 27, 2007

To come is the important bit

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image: Flesh Eating Beagle

There’s a new economic theory around. It’s about the rules of the race. It’s the economy compared to horse racing. The Confindustria and the main financial newspapers are convinced of that.
They are the new jockeys, of the equestrian circus. What’s this new theory all about? I’ll use a metaphor to explain.
Imagine that you see two thieves stealing, two rapists raping, two thugs shooting. What they are doing is happening right now. Now let’s change the field of vision. Let’s go to the world of economics.
I know you feel a bit disgusted, but imagine that you surprise some financiers who are drawing blood from a company, some State concessionaires who are not making investments, some companies who are not providing essential services.
In both cases, an observer, perhaps the government, would say in a loud voice: “If there are any rules that allow this disgusting stuff, then they must be changed. And not just during the race, but now!
In the former situation, the observer would be robbed, raped or shot. In the latter case, derided.
Treated like an ignoramus who doesn’t realize that in economics, you don’t change the rules of the race while the race is on. In fact for Tronchetti, Benetton and Montezemolo you can only change the rules when the race is over. When the dividends have been cashed in, the enterprises reduced to Chinese boxes, the stock options distributed.
If a law is in error, then you have to take action. I have never seen a law being changed while nothing is happening. It’s against the laws of nature. Even though I understand the friends in the Confindustria, a coitus interruptus, is never a pleasure for anyone. You don’t interrupt a fxxk.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:33 AM in Economics | Comments (54)
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April 20, 2007

From the Stock Exchange with Envy

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“Italian capitalism is at an extreme of unpresentability”, explains Bertinotti, “as the Telecom affair shows us.” The Confindustria has responded with talk of “anti-industrial livore”.
The Italian word “livore” is defined by Garzanti 2006 as “a feeling of bitter and deaf envy”. Bertinotti would be envious of Italian capitalism that is nourished by stock options, State concessions, the absence of regulations and the State’s fund for laid-off workers? Pull the other leg. In Italy there is no longer capitalism nor industry. No serious capitalist envies our Stock Exchange. The capitalists that use their own money and not someone else’s. Foreigners stay well away from the Milan Stock Exchange.
The figures for 2005 show that with any Government, foreign investments are always miserable.

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The reason is the control of the economic terrain. Just as in some regions of the South, the multinationals don’t invest because of the presence of the mafia, in the Stock Exchange there’s no investment because of the presence of the “salotto buono”. The Takeover Game is controlled by 20 to 30 people. The rest is just telling jokes.
“According to the Federation of European Securities Exchange, foreign investors buy shares anywhere rather than in Italy. “ (Financial Times 28/3/2007).

The Italian Stock Exchange has the lowest percentage of foreign investments in the whole of Europe: 13%. Elsewhere, from Malta to Estonia, the average is 33%. In Italy, there’s the syndicate pact, the Chinese boxes, and the conflict of interests. A Vietnam.
The syndicate pact works like this: two or three shareholders make an agreement and remove all power from the majority. The Chinese boxes works like this: A ragamuffin with patched trousers owning a tiny amount commands everything. The conflict of interests works like this: the same people are shareholder, manager, supplier, member of the Board of Directors and supervising auditor in more than one company quoted on the Stock Exchange.
They are unsettling people because of their multiple personalities and multiple foreign current accounts. Everything OK, everything according to law, and Consob regulations.
Corporate Governance, the rules that should protect the shareholder and the company, where are they? Cardia enlighten us.
Meanwhile the Telecom shareholders meeting decided on stock options for the Board of Directors. The first and most important priority. And Tronchetti, absent from the shareholders meeting for health reasons, was present in the box at San Siro, healed by the spring sun.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 01:57 PM in Economics | Comments (9)
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April 12, 2007

Consob, Di Pietro and share action

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photo by Razor

I have received a letter from the Minister Antonio Di Pietro who has received a letter from Consob about me and the share action campaign. I didn’t think I was so important. I’ll give a response to the Consob letter in the next few days on the blog.
Make sure you are all at Rozzano on April 16!

Dear Beppe,
As you know I have decided to sign up to your initiative aimed at giving a voice to those people holding small numbers of Telecom shares.
A very important battle in as much as it is emblematic: if it succeeds it could be repeated for every company quoted on the Stock Market and thus introduce into our economy principles of true representation. My support triggered an immediate reaction from the National Commission for companies and the Stock Exchange (Consob) with a letter signed by its president Lamberto Cardia that I am attaching.
The letter tells me to watch out because of the non-lawfulness of your initiative. It could be up to you to respond if you would like to.
Through your blog, I would like to tell the Consob that such precise attention should also be given to the conflict of interests that are normal in the Stock Exchange. Otherwise how is it possible to explain the presence of the same people on the board of Directors of clients and suppliers, in companies that are controlling and controlled?
The mechanism of Chinese boxes, that diabolic mechanism that allows big companies to be controlled by a ridiculously small package of shares and for Olimpia to nominate the majority of the members of the Board of Directors even though it only has 18% of the shares.
Finally, the representation of the people holding small numbers of shares should be facilitated and this is why Italia dei Valori will present a draft law. The current regulations in fact make this impracticable.
Telecom’s shareholders meeting on 16 April, will see perhaps for the first time in Italy, the presence of the people who are shareholders. A display of democracy that I hope will finally bring in the industrial theme, that up until now has been overlooked for the biggest company in the country.
With Telecom there’s part of the future of Italy at stake, but unfortunately there’s only a discussion of Olimpia and its need for cash.
A story that has gone on for months and that is destabilizing the company.
First they tried to sell Tim, then Tim Brasil and in the end they set up an auction for the best offer while showing indifference to the interests of the country.
The infrastructure of the network should be separated from the services. Whoever buys it will have to get a new authorization from the State. The State must examine the preconditions, and in the end it must be possible to count the votes, not weigh them.”
Antonio Di Pietro.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:05 AM in Economics | Comments (26)
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April 08, 2007

The Market

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photo by Guano

The market is the new ideology of our employees. A company is closing down? It’s the law of the market. A few hundred families are left on the street? It’s the market.
A company that is fundamental for Italy like Telecom is plundered and sold at auction? It’s the market. The motorway company Autostrade increases the tolls, doesn’t do the maintenance work and distributes the dividends? It’s the market. No one can oppose the market. It would be against liberalism, against Boninowhodoestheshopping, against Prodiofclosedgames.
Against the European Community that is always on the side of the market, never on the side of the citizens. The market is the new divinity to be celebrated with Easter. A little saint of the Findomestic or of the psycho dwarf in his wallet. A god without “competitors”.
Though Christ had to be resurrected, the market has never died.
A discussion about water, energy, electricity, building is immediately extinguished with the magic word: market. A superior being that operates with its own rules, that cannot be fathomed, but that are a priori right, not to be discussed. Do you remember the applause given to Tronchetti by Bertinotti and Fassino?
That was the market. And all the fans of Coppola, Ricucci, Gnutti, Fiorani, Tanzi and Fazio of the local house of liberty? That was the market. And the indifference to Geronzi’s bankruptcy conviction? It’s always the market.
And the fact that Buora stayed in Telecom after the spying scandal? It was still the market. But even the intercepts were (are?) a market.
If it’s the market with its Chinese boxes, its miserable capitalism, conflict of interests, its total lack of rules, is deciding our lives. If this is true, and it is, our employees are good for nothing.
We can employ directly the state concessionaires, some assisted industries, some modern vampire holdings. Or perhaps they have already been employed? Just for a bit of speculation, we could have the Parliament quoted on the Stock Exchange.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:57 AM in Economics | Comments (9)
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April 05, 2007

The suk and the zero point

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"This market is not a true market but a suk, and whoever invokes it is acting in bad faith."
"My presence in Telecom is negative for Italian capitalism, where the one with zero point and loads of debts does what he wants."
Guido Rossi, president of Telecom Italia.

Well, I didn’t know that Guido Rossi reads the Blog. His words are the same as the ones I’ve been using for years. Words of a comic. To be precise words of a comic from Genoa with a diploma in accountancy.
Telecom is ours. Generations of Italians have paid for it with their taxes and their fixed payments. Let us take it back. Everyone at Rozzano on 16 April! Read the instructions in the icon on the right and spread the word.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 07:02 PM in Economics | Comments (11)
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April 04, 2007

Tronchetti 0(point)08

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Consob loves me. Since I launched the ‘Share action’ initiative they write to me regularly to ask for my advice. I’m not stand-offish and I reply. A dialogue that has been going on for months.
The Genoa-Style Takeover is going ahead. Don’t worry. The formalities to be respected are slowing things down but cannot stop it. About 4,000 people have written to me. At the next shareholders meeting I will not be able to represent them formally but I will be OK by the one after that.
The Telecom Italia shareholders meeting will be at Rozzano on 16 April. Anyone who possesses Telecom shares can take part. I invite everyone to do so. I invite all those who have told me of their interest to participate. Each one with their voice.
Each one of you counts for more than Tronchettizeropointzeroeight. The more there are of us, the more this shareholders meeting will be an important event. A true representation of popular shareholding. I’ll be there.
I hear invocations of the market from the psycho dwarf and his spokesperson in a Fez. People who really know about markets: cattle markets.
The triad tronchettibuoraruggiero has sold what is sellable from Telecom Italia in recent years. It has transformed the profits into dividends, stock options and mega salaries, golden tokens for the members of the Board of Directors always lined up.
Telecom property was sold to Pirelli Real Estate with a tiny weeny conflict of interests? They agreed it. Tim e Telecom were merged? They agreed it. A year later Tim and Telecom were separated? They agreed it. It’s the famous “token” agreement.
The biggest intercept scandal in the history of Italy escaped them. It was carried out by Telecom men, Telecom structures, Telecom money. A group of directors like that in another country would have lost their position months ago.
And they are still there. The director Ferrarini who pontificates and the director Moratti who consoles us with his smile like a good oily. The market. This is the market.
Has the Telecom spying damaged the shares and the company? I say it has. Those who were managing the company must respond and get out of our hair. Tronchetti wants to sell to the Mexicans and escape. The Milan prosecutor gets Tavaroli to say who are the “brains” behind the intercepts. These shady “brains”. But whoever could they be, these “brains”?
Everyone to the Telecom auditorium in Rozzano on 16 April!

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 03:45 PM in Economics | Comments (26)
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March 26, 2007

Power Mapping

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I want to ruin my liver and talk about the Stock Market. An unsavoury place that everyone is fleeing from. It’s an orgy. Anyone can make a killing except for the small time shareholders. Those people can just stay and watch, find greater safety with “sell now-buy later” or get peace of mind with Treasury Bonds.
The Stock Market is a great family. Our people on the Boards of Directors know each other like old friends. And they have the gift of ubiquity. They are present in the companies that buy and in the companies that supply. They sell and buy from themselves. A spectacle of conflict of interests. And they can be in the company with shares and in the one they control.
Shareholders in the morning, managers in the evening. At night dreamers, not just dreaming but also cashing in stock options and dividends.
If the Stock Market were to close, only the genteel people would notice.
The one who has a decimal fraction of ownership and loads of Chinese boxes, decides everything. This is the Map of Power. The true one that brings you breakfast in bed from Palazzo Chigi.
Do you want to know the details of every incestuous relationship in the Stock Exchange? Today you can. Click on the zone saying “Power Map” on the right. It contains all the companies, all the Directors on their Boards. It’s the best financial consultant for deciding on making an investment.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:24 AM in Economics | Comments (1)
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March 20, 2007

Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Laureate 2006

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I’ve met a great man. A true economist who has saved the life of an incredible number of people. His name is Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Laureate 2006. Thanks to him even beggars have been able to get credit.
And they have paid back the money. A big difference from the financiers of these parts. 85,000 beggars are the estimated number of clients of Muhammad Yunus’s Grameen Bank and thanks to him they have the chance to change their lives.
In Italy the opposite happens. You go into a bank with no problem and you come out needing to ask for alms. Yesterday at the University of Bologna they asked me to make a short speech in the Aula Magna. There were bankers. There was Yunus. Watch the film clip.

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Text:

Speech by Beppe Grillo at the University of Bologna.
I’ve listened to people who are specialists in their own field, talking about things that from my point of view have hardly any sense. I hear economists talking and confusing the economy with finance. I hear talk of microcredit confused with microfinancing with microfinance.
I think I’ve got doubts because the work of this man is the work of a professor who has seen his country disintegrated with debt and who has tried in every way to get people to save which together with work, is the only way to beat debt.
For example, we have heard the ABI representative who said that he feels perplexed and embarrassed: it’s a sense of shame.
Here we are talking about microcredit, whereas we have consumer credit. The banks no longer are satisfied with the savings of the people, they are no longer interested in the money but they want the lives of the people. That is not selling things but selling the debt on things.
The concept of transparency for our banks is to not let anyone understand anything of what they are doing, to get people into debt, for example, on a TV set to have it paid for in 6 months, but not earlier than 6 months. But on that day in 6 months time they send out a bill to get the people into a trap and make them pay for the TV double its value with interest rates of 17-18% which is a usurer’s interest rate. We are in the hands of usurers.
So there! That’ll teach you to get me to talk!
Muhammad go away from here! Go away from here Muhammad!

Interview with Muhammad Yunus.
Greetings to everyone! I am happy to be here with Beppe, it really is a great experience. I’ve heard him speak. He has clearly said what I would have said. He’s talking about what is happening, about real problems.
The banks don’t ask questions. They continue to do what they have always done. They should have done many things that they haven’t done. We have shown that it is possible. We can help every individual with no problem.
Grameen Bank lends money to the poorest. We started off 30 years ago. Without guarantees or recommendations. Without legal instruments. Money is needed to make money. That’s how we started off. But no one believed that we would have made it. But we succeeded.
It’s a banking system based on trust that works and that is spreading throughout the world. Millions of people have had access to microcredit. It can be done. Credit is a human right and it can change the life of everyone. The banking system must be for everyone.
We lend money to everyone. Even to beggars. So that they can sell something, tiny objects: toys, candies. That way they can earn money and change their life.
More than 85,000 beggars are changing their lives. This is exactly what Beppe has been talking about today. Warm greetings to everyone!

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 12:51 AM in Economics | Comments (13)
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March 14, 2007

The dwarf log

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I made a mistake with Tronchetti the log. I overvalued him. I believed that he controlled the biggest Italian company with a 0.8% share. Hardly anything, but still a little bit. But it’s not like that.
Tronchetti is less than a log. He’s a dwarf log. Visible only with the special electron microscopes used by directors of newspapers. Who always considered him to be a giant for the publicity that Telecom sent out as information thanks to our landline rental fees.
The dwarf log possesses (WAIT FOR IT!!!) only 0.08% of Telecom. If I’d have known earlier, I’d have made him a little offer.
The newspapers headlines say: “Tronchetti offers for sale the company that controls Telecom”. I’m up for it!
I want to participate in the auction! How much could it be worth, this controlling packet of 0.08% with which the dwarf log has been able to do what he wanted with Telecom? 10-15,000 euro? Bersani keep calm. I’ll put down this money to avoid any temptation for the foreigners.
In 2006, Pirelli has lost 1,000,000,000 Euro thanks to the dwarf log. Pirelli has had to devaluate its participation in Telecom to 3 Euro a share. But the purchase price was 4,175 Euros.
Shame that the share value is collapsing in the absence of industrial strategies and investments in the Internet over many years. Telecom is worth a bit more than 2 Euro. Will Pirelli have to devaluate again? And hang on to its dwarf president losing 1,000,000,000 Euro a year?
It’s said that calm will return to Telecom with the conclusion of the judicial inquiries into the intercepts that will do a clean sweep. I’m not happy, I would prefer the class of top management and the major indebted shareholders to all be judged and moved away for the lack of results, for the stock options that they have cashed in on top of their mega salaries, for the tens of thousands of workers shoved out into the streets. And finally there is something that I can’t swallow. They can’t run off with the booty. That, they must give back to the Italians down to the last cent.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 03:05 PM in Economics | Comments (6)
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March 13, 2007

Fiat Suppositories

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A news item that has gone just about unnoticed. Last month Consob took courage, or perhaps it couldn’t help it, and it declared temporary incapacity to take on official positions in companies quoted on the Stock Exchange for Ifil’s Andrews Sisters (and Ifil controls Fiat) whose names are: Gianluigi Gabetti, Franzo Grande Stevens and Virgilio Marrone. Gabetti got fined 5 million Euro. In reference to Gabetti, Consob said:
intentional character of the violations to be reconnected with the complete falsity of the communications following on from the participation (reconnected also with duties taken on in relation to the Agnelli Group) in the activities relating to the equity swap operation…” The magic of the words that let us understand zero. Equity swap, try and say that slowly to your wife in an intimate moment:
e..q..u.i.t.y..s..w..a..p. She’ll think of a new erotic game that’s slightly painful. And that’s how you’ll forget about your Fiat shares in the cash box. The ones that your trusted Bank advised you to buy. .

According to the Consob, Gabetti has manipulated the market, but let’s look at the facts:
- The value of Fiat shares plummeted in Spring 2005
- Exor in Luxemburg (whose major shareholder is Giovanni Agnelli & Co.) buys almost 10% of the whole of Fiat from Merryl Linch at a value of about 5 Euro in an equity swap, thus at an agreed future price
- Ifil buys 82 million ordinary Fiat shares at a price of 6.5 Euro.
- An ordinary shareholder could have bought the shares at that same time at a price of 7.5 to 8 Euro.

The Agnelli family headed up by Gabetti, like Exor, bought Fiat shares at 5 Euro and it sold Fiat shares to Ifil at 6.5. All within the family. It didn’t inform the market in a transparent way. It maintained the control of Fiat with 30.06% only thanks to this operation. What a delightful family. But Fiat, wasn’t that the company that when it was losing money, laid off workers who were then paid with our money and when it was doing OK kept the money in its own pockets? And when will we have an “equity suppository” for the Agnelli family?

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 12:30 PM in Economics | Comments (2)
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February 26, 2007

Nostradamus’s taxes

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A Sunday question. Perhaps someone will reply. Why should companies pay taxes in Italy? An entrepreneur opens a company. He manages to make a profit. He’s so honest that he doesn’t run away, dodge taxes or do corruption. He declares the lot.
The State, to reward him, taxes him immediately double.
In fact if the company has made a profit, the State has the maximum trust that next year it will do the same.
This trust in the ability of the taxpayer is translated into an advance on the taxation.
Almost equal to the value of the current year, a presumed income in advance. The income is hypothetical but the taxes are real.
The money from the presumed income is taken away from the investments in the company. From employment, technology, machinery. And above all it’s presumed. Why do you have to pay on the presumption of future income? They are Nostradamus’s taxes. And for the companies that have recently been created, if they make profits in the first few years, it can be such a heavy burden that they have to close. Thus it’s better to make a loss.
Only a saint or a madman can declare all the profits with this hellish mechanism. The State wants money. More money.
It wants cash. Always more cash. But it takes it from the honest taxpayers. Not from the tax dodgers. Too difficult. It’s better to send a request asking for a payment of 20 Euro in taxes plus penalties (yes it does happen) – than to attack the tax dodgers.
At this point the State could insist on a presumed advance of taxation on every income. On inheritance, for example. In the year following the first, another relative could die. On the lottery winnings. On scratch cards.
If Padoa Schioppa reads this post, I’m sure he’ll do it.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:55 AM in Economics | Comments (13)
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February 16, 2007

I’m in debt therefore I am

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The debt industry is eating up Italy. The public debt will soon become motivation for national pride, a moral reference. Private debt can’t do less than that.
It has to increase. But the indebtedness capacity of the Italians needs help. If at one time there were loans for 10,000 Euro now you can borrow 1,000/1,5000. It’s now raining throttling ways for everyone. Debts for every type of household. For the weakest.
Parents are invited to get into debt for their children. Once they simply sent them out to work. But today to be a precarious worker costs more than the salary. It’s best to get into debt straight away. The loan sharks are thinking, working things out every day. The objective is the rate of interest (TAEG). Their jackpot is the repossession of the house from whoever doesn’t keep up the repayments.
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“Do you need money. It’s in your home” is sublime. Everyone looking for money that doesn’t exist underneath the sofa. To then go on and mortgage the home. Payment is made with debts, not with cash. The gain is in the interest that’s added, the product purchased is only an attraction.
When all the money is completely gone, then you can get the debt into debt. The debt on the debt could open up new horizons, new possibilities, new monetary perdition. There will be the multiple debts, those that are complex and derivatives and from time to time the suicides from jumping a repayment.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:43 AM in Economics | Comments (23)
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February 13, 2007

Mobility and taboo

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The taboo of mobility. Anyone who doesn't move is against progress, anti-modernist. One who doesn't want to work, to enjoy oneself, to socialize. Mussolini taught us, from "He who stays still is lost" to "The one who doesn't move is no-global".
It's still fascism. Who ever said that a person must get up in the morning and move 50 kilometres to go to work? Or at the end of the week flee from their home in the city and travel hundreds of kilometres?
The taboo is not discussed by anyone. Not in politics. Not in the economy. Not by the people who are drugged by advertising about cars. That always run around in open spaces, empty like deserts, limpid like the sky in spring.
Petrol is the sail of a yacht that is getting bigger, a liquid with no weight, green and blue, beautiful to behold, good to breathe.
Among the top 16 companies in the world there are 5 that are oil companies: Exxon, Shell, BP, Total and Chevron. Together they have a turnover of 1,214,000,000,000 dollars. Thousands of millions that cannot be beaten when creating the taboo of mobility.
Among the top 10 companies, apart from the oil companies, who it must be remembered resell a natural resource and gain mad sums of money, there are almost only banks and insurance companies: Citigroup, Bank of America, America International Group, HSBC, JP Morgan, UBS.
With this lot in command we can be certain about the extinction of the planet. As long as it is they who decide, we have to move around in cars and not on bicycles. Use the planes and not tele-work. Get out of the city instead of living in it.
It's useless talking about reducing emissions, about cars that pollute less. The problem will be resolved only by eliminating mobility every time it isn't necessary. Thus, just about all the time.
To move around must be a choice. Organisations must be distributed, decentred throughout the territory. It's really idiotic to bring millions of people into the city when with the Internet they can work at home, or from an office near home. We need to start to hate cars. They are a fetish, a taboo from last century.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:15 AM in Economics | Comments (10)
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January 16, 2007

The loan sharked

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Instigation to get into debt is not a crime. But it should be. Interest rates of 15-20% are not considered usury. But they are usury. The producers gain on the interest on the repayments, not on the product value.
What's most annoying about these debt-mongers, of these open-the-route-to-family-bankruptcy people, of these usurers with the manager's tie, of these vultures of the TAEG is there face like a backside. The lira won the Oscar of currency when Italy saved.
There was the day of saving. Italy had no public debt. The children were given the little money-box pig as a present. Now there's the day of debt. It lasts 365 days a year. Usurious interest rates are the aim of those who sell. The car, the plasma screen, the kitchen are accessories to consumer credit. If saving was the engine of development, debt is the engine of underdevelopment.
The Statistics Bulletin of the Bank of Italy: "Monetary and Financial Institutions: banks and monetary funds" explains with its tables how Italian families are being transformed into beggars. In the 1960's we were poor, but without debts. Today we are precarious but with debts.
In the month of November 2006, loans for a value of 431,000,000,000 Euro were arranged. That's 10% more than in November 2005. The porky-pie that we are behind in relation to other countries. That we have to get ourselves more into debt to keep up. It's a the work of vile ruffians. Il Mondo has published an indebtedness table:
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And a series of interviews about our debts. Personalities looking for a psychiatrist.

"A country like Italy today, where there is greater level of guarantee, for earnings, for health, for services, has less need of savings." Giuseppe Zadra, Director General of the Italian Banking Association.

"Once upon a time, repayments had a moral weight, they shouldn't be done, but now getting a loan has become normal for lay people. And this is an element in the modernization of Italy." Giampaolo Fabris, sociologist and university lecturer at San Raffaele in Milan.

"Consumer credit started off as an alternative to the "IOU" in the 1960's, then it was considered psychologically as getting into debt. In recent years it has become a payment tool… and there is strong demand to bring it in even for expenses like furniture removal, funerals and general medical expenses." Massimiliano Becheroni, Director General of Prestitempo.

"If in a recession phase, credit goes up, that means that a part of the Italians have managed to smooth out the fluctuations of their own income. And this is an indicator of the health of the markets." Tullio Jappelli, Economics lecturer at the University Federico II in Naples, editor of lavoce.info.

I invite those who have had negative experiences with consumer credit to write them down as a comment to this post. The most important evidence of insolvency, bankruptcy, usury will be collected into a book: : "I cravattati" { The tie wearers, Italian for The loan sharked}.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:57 AM in Economics | Comments (25)
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January 12, 2007

Bersanator

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In Italy there's a new character. The liberalizator. One who the Cip6 if it weren't for him, who the recharging if it weren't for him, who the telephone tariffs if it weren't for him, who the electricity tariffs if it weren't for him, who the price of gas if it weren't for him, who the costs of bank services if it weren't for him. If he had had a free hand we would have European prices and services.
But he didn't get the chance.
He has only been the Minister of Industry, and of Commerce, and of Artisans and of Tourism, and of Navigation and now Minister of Economic Development.
Clearly he's not the one responsible, it's someone else born on the same day. The one who has been bypassed.

The liberalizator even takes on liberalizations belonging to others as is explained by Andrea D'Ambra for telephone recharging. The liberalizator is serene when faced with the price cartel denounced by the EU. In Italy, electricity and gas cost like diamonds. But what competition is there if a company pays everything at a cost greater than in the rest of Europe ? What savings can a family make if they have utility bills at usury prices? Who is leading Enel and Eni? To which politician do they have to answer? The Finance Law is useless if the primary services cost double.

1. Eni/Enel: the voice of the EU
Neelie Kroes , head of the EU Antitrust body, has proposed the separation of the production from the management of the distribution networks and has called on Italy to "worry" as Eni and Enel "maintain a dominant position and exercise a substantial power in the market"

2. Eni/Enel: electricity and gas prices in Europe from today's Financial Times
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3. Eni/Enel: the declarations of the companies and of the liberalizator
The requests from Kroes are "in line with the changes already in action in Italy over the last few years" Fulvio Conti , Enel CEO.

We have been among the "first companies in Europe to start pro-competition measures" Eni Declaration.

"The initiatives that Italy is taking are, on many points, are along the route that the European Union has indicated in its report." Pierluigi Bersani.


And finally the letter from Andrea D'Ambra:
" Dear Beppe,
As you know, the other night on Ballarò, Bersani 'discovered' the recharging costs at the best moment for political manoeuvring. That is when the decision from AGcom is about to arrive. That way everyone will say: "oh, what a great guy, this Bersani! He's abolished the recharging costs!" But no! I'm not having that! Political manoeuvrings have never gone down with me! Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar! You know that this initiative, if it weren't for you who has supported me that created it and for more than 800 thousand people who signed in support, that it wouldn't have got to this point. It's only thanks to the petition at www.aboliamoli.eu that the Authority has made a move after I made the denunciation to the European Commission in spite of what Bersani says…
Please make his clear on your blog because:
1) The press, friendly to Bersani is censoring this initiative for political interests
2) The press, friendly to the operators is censoring this initiative for economic interests.
Thanks from my heart".
Andrea D'Ambra www.aboliamoli.eu

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 01:15 PM in Economics | Comments (14)
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January 11, 2007

The pact with the devil by Joseph E. Stiglitz

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The Nobel prize-winner for Economics, Joseph Stiglitz has sent me a letter and given two interviews. One is on globalisation and is published below. The other is on video and is about work and poverty.


"Dear Beppe,
maybe we need a RESET; before that we can try to put a grand of sand in the machine. This is what I'm trying to do as an economist.
For much of the world, globalization as it has been managed seems like a pact with the devil. A few people in the country become wealthier; GDP statistics, for what they are worth, look better, but ways of life and basic values are threatened … This is not how it has to be.
We can make globalization work, not only for the rich and powerful, but for everyone, for those that live in the poorest contries too. The task is difficult and requires time. We waited too much: the time to get working has come.
Greetings.
Joe
"

1. In your book you suggest a non-Washington consensus approach to globalization. How can it be applied if the "powerful" institutions (FMI, Treasure etc) are against this approach?

First, developing countries are working to achieve independence from the IMF—and trying to make sure that they do not again become subjected to its dictates. Almost all have paid back was owed, earlier than required, simply to get the IMF off their backs.
Secondly, Argentine has shown that strong willed governments can stand up to the IMF. It simply refused to be cowed. It said that it wanted to have an agreement with the IMF, but it recognized that a bad agreement was worse than no agreement. Not only did it succeed in negotiating a better deal with its creditors than it would have done, had it listened to the IMF, it managed to grow, and grow rapidly, for the first time in years; and for the first time in years, it managed to balance its budget—bitter irony for the IMF who had subjected Argentina to all kinds of misguided policies, all in an attempt to get rid of its deficit.
Finally, there is a drive to reform the IMF itself, a drive which is bearing some fruit. At its meeting in September in Singapore, the IMF admitted the flaws in its governance (though it itself has severely criticized governance in developing countries), and gave more voting power to four of the most underrepresented of the developing countries. But some of the most important flaws remain—the U.S. remains the only country with the veto power, the way its head is chosen does not accord with the kinds of democratic procedures that we take for granted in our own democracies, and it is still not conform to principles of transparency that are accepted in the United States, Sweden, and other democracies.

2. Do you foresee a role for a consumer-network via internet? (e.g. boicott strategy of polluting firms etc)

Global civil society has already managed to show its effectiveness, for instance in getting debt relief (in 2000, the Jubilee 2000 movement) and in the Lands Mine treaty. The internet is an important tool for organizing across the world—and so I do for see a potential role for a consumer-network via internet, to help organize and mobilize consumers on subjects of their concern. Consumers are one group in our society whose voices are not heard, or at least not heard as much as they should. For instance, in government, there are several ministries devoted to looking after producer interests, but in few countries is there a ministry to look after consumer interests.

3. Can capitalism self-correct its behavior? After all, your asymmetric information approach discarded the mainstream economics (which justifies the Wash. consensus), but it is still dominant in the economic profession.
The theories that I (and others) helped develop explained why unfettered markets often not only do not lead to social justice, but do not even produce efficient outcomes. Interestingly, there has been no intellectual challenge to the refutation of Adam Smith’s invisible hand: individuals and firms, in the pursuit of their self-interest, are not necessarily, or in general, led as if by an invisible hand, to economic efficiency. The only question that has been raised concerns the ability of government to remedy the deficiencies of the market.
Within academia, a significant fraction of economists are involved with developing and expanding on the ideas of imperfect information (and imperfect markets) that I explored. For instance, Edmund Phelps, this year’s Nobel Prize winner, belongs to this “school” of thought. But in political discourse, simplistic “market fundamentalism” continues to exert enormous influence.

4. When US refuse to apply the Kyoto protocol, one may say there is a Government financial aid in action?

In my new book Making Globalization Work, I devote a chapter to the question of global warming. As with so many other aspects of globalization, it is the poor that are most vulnerable, the most likely to suffer. For instance, a third of Bangladesh will be underwater, and the country will suffer from increasing flooding—an already impoverished country will become even poorer. It is not a question whether the American economy can afford to take actions—indeed, it is increasingly clear that the question facing the world is whether we can afford not to take action. But by not forcing American firms to take account of their global pollution, American firms are given a financial advantage over firms from the rest of the world. This is unfair, and I show in my book how the WTO—which is suppose to create a level playing field—can be used to force America to withdraw what are in effect unfair subsidies to its polluting producers.

5. Which kind of jobs for our kids: flexible and precarious?
Increasingly, life time employment will be a thing of the past. People will have to move from job to job over their life time, and one of the challenges of our educational system will be to prepare our young people for these transitions; and one of the challenges of our social system will be to enable people to make these transitions with as easily as possible. There will more precariousness than in the past, more risk, but we can reduce the social consequences. For instance, in America, individuals depend on their employers for health insurance; when they lose their job, they lose health insurance, and, if they should have an illness during these periods between jobs, it can have lifetime consequences. This should be intolerable. Globalization has been used as an excuse for weakening social protections; rather, the increased precariousness of employment is a reason we should be strengthening social protections. (Of course, we need to work to make sure that they are well designed, and sometimes, in the past, they have not been. But this is not a justification for doing away with social protections.)

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 06:04 PM in Economics | Comments (16)
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December 18, 2006

The posthumous discount

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Italy is a nation founded on the Public Debt. It has solid debt foundations. A secure alibi for the Finance Law. An alibi for new taxes, for the increase of existing taxes.
The Finance Law preserves the public debt. With an imposing public debt reforms are not possible. And everything stays as it is to the happiness of our employees. No government has intervened on public expenditure. Not even Prodi and the Padoa-Schioppa.
If costs go up, taxes go up and the debt holds. The debt is by now a condition of the spirit. It is in the air. To get into debt is a life style. The one who is in credit is a failure.
You need to show off your debts to be somebody. The bigger your personal debt, the greater are your opportunities. You can even become the President of the Council or the director of Telecom. The words… “access to credit” are reassuring . Access to debts sounds worrying. Let us become people in credit not in debt. Banks, finance people, big retailers are all in the front line for the creation of poverty. Through credit.
If I had said to my father that I was taking out a loan with TAEG 20% to go to the Antilles he would have given me a kick up the backside. And then he would have denounced the bank.
The banks always think of our dreams. They want to see them coming to fruition together with the bank interests. At Christmas you are offered the discount if you pay later. A mystery.
If you pay after 6 months you are entitled to the discount with no interest. Not if you pay straight away. A lovely LCD colour TV costs about 1200 Euro. If you pay cash after 6 months it costs you 20% less.
A bargain. But if after 6 months you forget, and the invoice doesn’t arrive or you don’t have the cash what happens? With TAN {annual rate of interest} 17.48%, TAEG {overall rate of interest}18.45% (but they could be higher) for 1000 Euro they arrange 24 monthly payments of 53.40.
The result is 1281.60. The great retailers gain from the debts of their clients. Assisted by the Finance law.
RESET. Return to the culture of saving.
The public debt should be forbidden. Just as has happened for smoking. It is an act of social obscenity. A way of encouraging us to be delinquents against ourselves. For Christmas give yourself a gift. Buy less and only what you can afford.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:54 AM in Economics | Comments (40)
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December 16, 2006

Take the Dividends and Run

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Now we know who was the real boss of Telecom. It was Tavaroli. In charge of Radar. Of the illegal intercepts of hundreds of bankers, managers, politicians and also relatives of Tronchetti. It was Tavaroli.
He moved hundreds of people in Telecom. He moved tens of millions of Euro. All to the detriment of Telecom. He was spying on Afef’s brother. The Chairman and the CEO were the last to know. They were distracted by dividends.
It was Tavaroli the puppet-master. Here there are two possibilities. His bosses were inadequate or colluding. Will Tavaroli end up like Litvinenko? Will he be polonium-ised or will the cup of coffee be enough?
The politicians who fell to the ground for fear of the computer output, keep silent. The TV keeps silent. A silence that is convenient for everyone. To enjoy Holy Christmas together.
Tronchetti continues to manage Telecom through the srl administrator Buora. And he tries to cash in every 2 for 3. Sell Tim Brasil. Increase the fixed line rental. Here the shame of the Authority has won out. And Calabrò has not permitted the increase to go ahead. However it was proposed.
If this is the new approach, Rossi is the same as Tronchetti.
Just a bit of make-up, some cosmetics, some red lips {Rosso = red}.
Next year I hope to meet up with him at the shareholders meeting. And to talk about this and that. About Skype, for example. Telephony via the Internet. That costs nothing or almost nothing. The service that has had the fastest growth in history.
And I will ask him why the Italians have to pay a tax called “canone”. A tax that is poured into thousand of millions of dividends for the usual economic groups. That get translated into salaries in the millions for the top managers of Telecom.
Directly from our pockets. From the citizens to the usual few. It’s the famous “bottom up”. And the bottom is always ours. Let’s abolish the canone. RESET!

PS: Share action continues...

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:06 AM in Economics | Comments (2)
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December 08, 2006

Alitalia and counting

Winged numbers. An individual wanting to buy Alitalia would have to fork out 2,000,000,000 Euro. Alitalia is worth zero. At the end of January the money to pay staff salaries will have run out. It has 20,575 employees. Half would still be too many. A third world fleet of aircraft. Beaten only by the Tupolev.
A CEO with an annual salary of 2,700,000 Euro. In Europe, the one with the highest pay in the sector. Earning 6 times as much as his colleague in Air France.
Prodi wants to sell. Who will buy? The banks are keeping clear. They’ve even tied their feet. Alitalia is losing 51,000 Euro an hour. Let’s stop the taximeter.
There’s only one solution to put a stopper on all this loss: pay 2,000,000,000 Euro to Gaddafi to buy it. The employees would have to move to Tunis. Their forced transfer would be part of the validity of the contract.
20,575 fewer mouths to be fed by the State. Great business. Even if it costs us a little bit.
There’s still the Cimoli problem. What to do with a manager who is so highly regarded by both Prodi and Berlusconi?
If a manager is paid well for what he is worth, he is paid really a lot for what he is losing. It’s a shame that the money he is earning is coming from our pockets. He’s not the only one who’s guilty.
He’s a goat but not the only scapegoat. But as long as he stays there, with that salary, with those results, with that satisfied smile there’s no hope. Let Prodi give him a job as a majordomo.
Then that’s the reason why he’s still there. Air. Fresh air. But what do you want?

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 12:55 AM in Economics | Comments (50)
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December 05, 2006

Scent of Money

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There are simple bankers. There are former prisoners like Fiorani. Those that will never get to prison like Geronzi. And the best among equals: the bankers of the left. Their champion is Alessandro Profumo of Unicredit. Profumo has given an interview to il Corriere della Sera. And he said Left things. Better than D’Alema. More than Fassino. A bit less than the pawn broker’s. They are words that can be interpreted.

AP: It’s not the task of the banks to develop the country. Our duty is to create value for our shareholders.”
Can be read:
”The shareholders decide the policies of the banks. The country and the clients come after that…”

AP: The interests of the development of the country coincide with the increase in our turnover”
Can be read:
”If the country doesn’t increase our turnover it can go and screw itself…”

AP: If Autostrade were to make investments in Italy simply because the ownership is Italian, in reality it would not be providing a service to the country.”
Can be read:
Unicredit and Benetton, are shareholders of Autostrade. If Autostrade were to make the investments for 2,000,000,000 Euro that it should have made in Italy it would not be providing a service to Unicredit and perhaps it would not be able to distribute dividends of almost 2,000,000,000 Euro to its shareholders and furthermore, it would not be a service to Unicredit.”

AP: With reference to the company Autostrade:
”If the rules are changed ex post, perhaps even concerning the motorway concessions, the result is more general: that of destroying the international credibility of Italy.”
Can be read:
”The profits of Unicredit and the international credibility of Italy coincide”

Spectacular Alexander the Great. He’s two-sided. He takes action and he holds shares. He’s always on the right side: that of the shareholders.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 12:41 PM in Economics | Comments (4)
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November 25, 2006

Pink Tax

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There’s still not the pink quota. But there is the pink tax. The article in the Finance law cited in the letter about separated fathers will produce some side effects. The number of divorces will fall. The number of legitimate fathers will fall. Some of them will dress up as Batman. The maintenance allowances paid to the separated mothers will go down. However the court cases for the custody of children will increase. And fathers will go mad.

“Dear Beppe,
I’m writing about a topic that relates to the millions of “separated fathers” (or miserable ones, you choose) present in Italy Article 3 comma 1 of the Finance Law approved by the Lower House, fruit of the mind probably suffering from homophobia sickness of a legal adviser to our employee Visco, has established that all fathers who are separated, divorced or with civil annulments to their marriages, unless they have shared custody of their children (a really rare occurrence as the law has only recently come into force and there’s strong opposition form the women), will no longer have the right to a 50% tax deduction on their salary for the dependent children.
Even though they rightly have to pay (often beyond their capacity) a maintenance allowance plus 50% of all the costs for health, schooling, sport etc. no father will have the benefit of a fair tax deduction from their wage packet.
To clarify: the new norm says that the parent without custody does not have the right to a tax deduction when faced with the obligation to support the expenses for the maintenance of their children.
For the parent without custody the norm is particularly detrimental as they are obliged to maintain their children with regular payments but the tax regulations don’t allow for the tax benefit. With this new arrangement the parent without custody has to support a burden that cuts into their capacity to pay tax.
On top of this disadvantage, there is another one that is even more serious: even though I, like other separated fathers, have to pay 50% of the health costs for my child shared with my wife (costs that are often high) I cannot deduct them from my taxable income, but the whole sum will go to the parent with custody, who is almost always the mother.
There’s the risk of losing the possibility of health cover for illnesses of one’s own children for those dads who work and have health insurance that they pay with monthly deductions form salary, in as much as these children will no longer be recognized as relevant to tax benefits.
Fathers will have to continue to pay 50% of all expenses for their children but the benefits and the tax advantages (unless there is joint custody) will go only to the mother.
We will all be obliged to ask for joint custody. Many fathers including myself have not yet requested this only to avoid new conflicts with the former spouse, who is generally contrary.
I wonder what country I’m living in and why I, who voted for the Centre Left, find myself thinking about one of the few advanced and civilized laws of this country, that is the one about joint custody, that puts us on a level (at least in theory) with Germany, England and the Scandinavian countries, that was passed by the Berlusconi government, and yet now they are trying to take us back to the Middle Ages. “
Stefano T.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 07:17 PM in Economics | Comments (3)
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November 20, 2006

The Cat of Competition and the Fox of Communications

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image from www.rtsi.ch

Two Authorities have set up an exploratory investigation into telephone top-ups. The Competition Authority and the Communication Authority. The Cat Catricalà and the Fox Calabrò.
The in-depth investigation has allowed one important conclusion to come out about the costs of top-up: “it represents an Italian anomaly”. In fact it’s not present in any European country. How much will it have cost us to do this in-depth investigation?
But the Authorities go further and using a language associated with a psychiatric report they hope: A remodeling of the top-up charge for mobile phones, to restore to competition level all the price components relating to mobile telephony and so in the future bring about relevant tariff reductions.”. And they go on just as though they had only just now discovered the top-up charges.
Perhaps they have been blinded on the road to Damascus by the 600,000 signatures of raging citizens: “a revision, even total, of the fixed contribution, would make clear what is offered in the market and would make it easier to do comparisons”.
It would have been enough for them to say: “top-up charges are theft, they are the fruit of a cartel of the mobile telephone companies in Italy and they should be abolished”.
And they should add: “It is a wholly Italian anomaly for which we too can be thanked as before we have taken action we needed a really strong kick up the backside from the Italians.”
I want to invite the Italians to do two things:
- sign your name for the abolition of top-up charges
- DON’T TOP-UP YOUR MOBILES until top-up charges are abolished.

And one for the Government:
Abolish the two Authorities. Their function that is taking Italian citizens for a ride is costing us more than the top-up charges.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 02:25 PM in Economics | Comments (14)
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November 15, 2006

Olivetti

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I haven’t heard anyone talking of Olivetti any more. What’s happened to it? Does it still exist? Camillo Olivetti, a young engineer, the founder, went off to the United States at the end of 1800. On his return he designed the best typewriter in the world.
Camillo spent his Sundays with his workers. He built a city for them ready for real people. He was years ahead in terms of Trades Union gains. A utopia that was then continued by his son Adriano. In the 1980s Olivetti was competing at a world level with IBM, HP, Bull. It had research laboratories in California. It had sites everywhere.
Thousands of technicians and engineers. To say that today seems to be dreaming with eyes open. But it happened yesterday. Only yesterday. What is Olivetti today? Who is the director? What does it produce?
How many employees does it have? Why does the world of politics never talk about it? Just as it takes no interest in the development of Information Technology apart from sfilatecarnevalate {streams of people like at a carnival} at the SMAU {ICT Fair} in Milan once a year.
If Olivetti, (one of the few Italian companies whose brand name is still well known in the world), is dead then it should have a funeral. A State Funeral. With magnificent pomp. To remember a grand Italian and some who were less grand and ditched it. And so that the funeral can be an occasion for reflecting on the future.
If what we want are bridges, supermarkets, roads, viaducts, sidewalks, tar, bricks, car parks, the only future that is understandable for this sub-species of politicians and industrialists. If this is what we want, then let’s bury together with Olivetti also the technological development of our country. However it should be done officially. At least that much is owed to Olivetti.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:26 AM in Economics | Comments (11)
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November 05, 2006

I’m the Co-op

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After the stories of Antonveneta, of Unipol, of Banca Popolare Italiana, of Fazio, of Consorte, of Gnutti, of Ricucci, of Fiorani, of the defence of the quality of being Italian and an affair in which the only ones not to go to prison are the politicians.
After all this we are right back at the beginning with the defence of the sacred earth of the mother country. It appears that Caprotti of Esselunga wants to sell to the English multinational, Tesco. The Co-op doesn’t agree. The Co-op is you and also Fassino, Bersani and D’Alema. It is the strongbox of the votes of the new Italian socialists: the DS.
Esselunga has purchased 2 pages in today’s Corriere della Sera. There are some interesting declarations from the last few years. In spite of Bersani’s liberalization.

“They tell me that Caprotti wants to sell. Beware not to lose Esselunga. It has to remain in Italian hands. Have I been understood?”
Cesare Geronzi

“ … I believe that the administrative system also has possible levers. Just as the Government has. It’s certain that no one enters a market without respecting its political and economic ruling class.”
Pierluigi Bersani

“…there are still the Co-ops and there’s still Esselunga… the government can put them together … it can have a policy to keep them together…”
Romano Prodi

Let Caprotti sell to Tesco. Let’s have retail prices in Italy at the level they are in other European countries.
Let’s import competition. Let’s avoid the family outings each weekend to France or Switzerland to buy products at half of half the price.
Let the government take care of prices and not Esselunga. Let it observe that all the on line distribution (the future) is already in the hands of foreigners.

PS: The Fruttagel factory of Senigallia with 200 employees, is closing. Let the Co-op intervene if it wants to and if it can.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:33 AM in Economics | Comments (5)
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October 23, 2006

Stock Exchange Games

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Imagine that you’ve got some shares.
And that after 5 years these shares have halved in value.
And that these shares allow you to keep control of the biggest Italian company.
And that the company is called Telecom Italia.
And that no one draws your attention to the fact that you have to devaluate them.
And that if you devaluate them you lose control of Telecom.
And that to avoid devaluating them you have to fork out the difference, but you don’t have the money.
And that the company with the shares halved is called Olimpia.
And that 80% of Olimpia belongs to Pirelli.
And that the other 20% is owned by Benetton that has however updated the value to that of the market.
And that the tronchetto dimezzato {Tronchetti who has been halved} has still got all his team in command at Telecom.
And if the value of Olimpia’s shares were brought up to date by more than 4 Euro on the Balance sheet by about a half, then Olimpia would no longer be anything.
And that all Tronchetti’s men would no longer be in the top jobs.
And that Tavaroli is trying to involve Buora.
And that Buora answers in kind in the Gazzetta dello Sport that he is a CEO ltd. A CEO of limited responsibility.
And that he didn’t know anything.
And that perhaps Sismi {Servizio per le Informazioni e la Sicurezza Militare = Italian secret service} replies to Buora with a communication about Mickey Mouse.
And that all the small Telecom shareholders want to have the value of the shares at more than 4 Euro.
And that they ask their banks to do this.
And that their banks give them written explanations why it’s yes for Olimpia and no for them.
And that the shares must all be the same.
And that it is incredible the extent that they are playing around with us.

PS The Shareaction initiative is continuing. Soon I will give you an update.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:26 AM in Economics | Comments (3)
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October 20, 2006

A future as a beggar

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TFR stands for Trattamento di Fine Rapporto {money given to employees at the end of their employment}. It’s money that we put on one side for our old age. Or if we loose our job. An investment for the future, for emergencies. A life jacket that gets heavier, more important each year that goes by.
One thing needs clearing up. This is our money. The employer keeps it in the bank for us. It doesn’t belong to the State, nor to the company, nor to the banks. If they make us angry and we resign, the money goes straight into our current accounts. If we want to buy a house, we can ask for a part of it. If we get nightmares in the night about Italy going down into the depths (with us on top) then the TFR is a tiny bit of relief. A gentle breeze that allows us to get back to sleep again.
INPS {pension body} is by now an old slut that no one pays any longer. The money that we gave them, when it was more attractive than it is now, (it’s always been a toilet but at least it was younger then) it doesn’t have any more. However, pensions have still to be paid. If they weren’t paid in Italy there’d be a revolution. Far beyond Argentina’s.
Metaphorically many heads would roll into the baskets. The Government’s idea to transfer with dexterity 50% of the TFR to INPS is a clear signal to the country: “No-one, if they pay taxes, is untouchable.” Accompanied by another one: “INPS has gone bust.” And even by another one: “What belongs to the citizens is the property of the State.”
Everyone knows that the companies use a tiny or big fraction of their employees’ TFR capital for their own financing. Let’s not hide behind a finger: the banks finance Tronchetti and Benetton, but not the small and medium sized companies. And these are the ones to loose the TFR.
From the only part of the country that still produces something. But isn’t it better to declare bankruptcy? It would be more honest.
A full stop and then start again. Instead of getting deeper into a daily bog created by Cimoli who resists (but why is he resisting?) by Tronchetti, by Benetton who wants to increase the road tolls. Because this and nothing else is the economy of Italy.

P.S. On 9 December the mythical book ‘Bar Sport’ by Benni will be 30 years old. Let’s celebrate together! A group of readers have launched Luisona day. Organise the reading of a book in a bar, or somewhere else and make it known to Benni’s website. Luisona day is the only festival that doesn’t cost tax payers a lira! For details look at www.stefanobenni.it

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:11 AM in Economics | Comments (23)
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October 12, 2006

Pigs can fly

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"Alitalia is going through its most difficult time in all its history. The situation is completely out of control and I don't see a parachute."
Romano Prodi, currently President of the Council, 10/10/2006

"The competition rules that have favoured the growth of low cost airlines are a contributing factor in the destruction of the capital assets of Alitalia. While Air France and Lufthansa have between 75% and 80% of their domestic markets, because of competition rules, Alitalia has barely 50% even though the State is the major shareholder."
Roberto Maroni (former minister), 25/10/2005

" …..this is the real problem: that the State is the shareholder, the same State that pays mind-blowing sums to the Alitalia directors and that has put the dampers on development and partnerships in recent years. I'm publishing a European classification by Ryanair, even for Maroni, of the revenues and costs per place (pax) and the net margin relating to 2005 for the airlines. Alitalia is showing a loss, the other airlines (low cost or not) are showing a profit."
Beppe Grillo, commedian, 26/10/2005

Alitalia is a flagship company and we are happy with the connection with the flag. We are all 'brothers of Alitalia'. But also financers and benefactors. Or rather parents, adoptive parents. Every Italian family has in fact adopted at a distance for years an Alitalia employee. With their taxes, they pay the employee's salary.
For Cimoli's salary of 190,375 euro a month, we need a middling-sized community.
Alitalia has lost 221,500,000 euro in the first six months of 2006.
Alitalia's balance sheets have been in the red for many years. Its management has been a disaster for many years. It has been going through its most difficult time for many years. Its flights have been late for many years. It has always been making mince meat of the Italians on the Milan-Rome route with round-the world tariffs. It has always been using directors that are "recommended".

If Prodi has a tiny bit of decency, he must give Cimoli the sack (and ask him for damages). He must sack the Board of Directors and the top management. Tomorrow.
Or he should have the decency to keep quiet and fly low cost.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:31 AM in Economics | Comments (36)
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October 09, 2006

Gilbertòn is worse than the hole

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Through the Schemaventotto company, the Benettons want to bring a court action against the government and the Fintecna company. In 1999 they took part of the Italian motorway concession from Fintecna.
The Board of Directors has carefully evaluated the decree 262 that redefines the relationship between the State and those who manage. And it has decided that it is not happy. Gilberto Benetton is really not happy with two items in the decree.
The first is that the increase in the motorway tolls is only possible if the work that was agreed to be done is in fact carried out. The second is that motorists have the right to be reimbursed for the extra profits that result from the investment work not having been carried out.

This seems normal to me. It’s a minimum level of protection for the users. But it’s not OK for Gilbertòn helped by the feisty Emma Bonino, the saintly European Union protectrix of the interests of companies (I don’t understand her, Pannella wants to disconnect Welby’s tube and she wants to attach it to Benetton).
I think I have understood that the Autostrade {motorways} company has failed to carry out work to a value of 2,000,000,000 Euro. Where is this money? Why hasn’t it been given back or made available?
That’s not money belonging to Gilbertòn. I also think I’ve understood that using our motorway toll money, Gilbertòn has financed the election campaign for the parties. By taking the motorways he has given money to Forza Italia and the DS and I didn’t know.

The concessionaires are managers, but the motorways belong to us. Gilbertòn is managing our stuff. He’s a modern sharecropper who doesn’t look after the fields and then takes action against us. The management has passed from the State to a private company and the situation has got worse. Travelling on the motorway costs more than a low cost flight to London or Paris. Gilbertòn is worse than the hole.
If Gilbertòn takes an action against the State, then we, who are citizens and users of our motorways, can take a court action against him for not having fulfilled his obligations. Italians are not just navigators and saints they are above all motorists.
And while driving they’ve seen and are still seeing a lot of everything. I want to collect your witness statements in a dossier so that we can bring an action against this sharecropper. A road class action.


P.S. In the Venice language (Benetton is from the Venice region) there is a saying "Xe pezo el tacon del buso" that means "The patch is worse than the hole".

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:44 AM in Economics | Comments (63)
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September 26, 2006

Telecom: an Italian story

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The ‘share action’ initiative up to now has got 1750 people signed up representing about 4,800,000 shares. Thanks to this week’s L'Internazionale that has put me on the front cover. I’m publishing my article here. It’s talking about a story that for the moment has no finale. Let’s hope that it will at least be a finale that is sustainable, like Guido Rossi says that Telecom’s debt is. But if the debt is sustainable, what about the credit?

Tronchetti resigned as president of Telecom one Friday, a few minutes before eight in the evening, dinner time. In Milan it was raining, autumnal weather, no one was around because of the urban transport strike. Sadness was in the air. The voice of Aznavour was singing “Com’è triste la Borsa a Milano”{How sad is the Milan Stock Exchange}, but perhaps it was just an echo in the Galleria.

The next day, a resigned Tronchetti, no tie, was walking with his relatives in via della Spiga. In the evening in the most honoured position in the San Siro stadium, he received expressions of solidarity that were like condolences. Inter drew with Sampdoria and added a note of depression at the end of Tronchetti’s week that was almost surreal.
But in the tradition of the best detective stories, we need to ask the question: who is responsible for the fall of the unhappy Tronchetti? The name that jumped to everyone’s lips was that of Romano Prodi, because of his resemblance to a major-domo cyclist. The major-domo is the prime suspect.

However Prodi can be excluded as he is a person who as always does not know the facts, and what’s more with an adviser, Rovati, who by sending a hand crafted memo to Tronchetti has got the whole of the government into a mess.
The private, extremely private message, speculated on a reorganisation of the Telecom group and Tronchetti like a perfect businessman, one that relies on a handshake, straight away handed it over to il Corriere della Sera, the independent daily of the polite salon where Pirelli sits. Rovati resigned.
Prodi has to refer to the Lower House something that no one is sure what it is, but one of his eloquent silences could be enough if accompanied by the throwing of a tomato. Having excluded Prodi, who is left? To understand this we have to go back in time. To the time of dell’Ulivo and D’Alema.
The time of the privatisations, the time of the ‘captains courageous’, but those without a lira. Franco Bernabè had recently started his reign in Telecom Italia. He was a dignified ruler who had already shown his colours in ENI.
Telecom had practically no debts. And every day generated good money. Telecom owned companies and buildings, just to show you, it had the biggest fleet of company cars in Italy. This was a patrimony built up with the taxes of generations of Italians.
D’Alema, who was then President of the Council, for reasons that no human mind (and perhaps not even any alien mind) was able to understand, allowed the company to be hived off to the Colaninno-Gnutti duo. Colaninno let go of Omnitel and launched a takeover bid for Telecom.
The money from the sale of Omnitel was definitely not enough for the takeover, but it went ahead by taking the company into debt.
Thus a Telecom without debts found itself with debts up to its neck. Franco Bernabè who tried to oppose this move by supporting the merger with Deutsche Telekom, even with a serious confrontation with the merchant banker D’Alema, well known industrialist and economist, had to resign.
From this moment the outcome for the country’s biggest company, the one with the best industrial prospects, and the highest rates of innovation, was doomed.
Furthermore, the block sale of the backbone, fixed and mobile lines is a weight on the development of the telecommunications market.
In fact a true market cannot exist if the one possessing the network is also supplying the services. The network should have remained in public hands, or at least, should be subject to the control of the State with a major participation.
Colaninno and Gnutti, who know how to conduct business, try to reduce the debt by selling Tim, or at least by merging it with Telecom, an action that is 5 years ahead of Tronchetti’s actions, but they are not allowed to do this.
Anyway, Colaninno tries to set out an industrial plan that doesn’t even get the time to see the light. Berlusconi comes to Government and night falls for Colaninno.
In July 2001 Colaninno goes to Argentina for a hunting trip and Gnutti, noticing what’s in the air, takes advantage, meets up with Tronchetti and sells. Tronchetti had the cash from selling in 2000, (during the period of the speculative bubble) the division for telecommunication cables Optical Technologies to Corning of the United States, for the incredible sum of 7,000,000,000,000 in cash.
He shares 1,000,000,000,000 in stock options with Buora (200) and Morchio (300), with 450 for him. Tronchetti acquires control of Telecom with the system of Chinese boxes. This is basically a series of companies which has a tiny company at the top of the chain which controls a bigger one and so on down until you arrive at Telecom.
Tronchetti with 0.8 per cent of the shares (he’s the true small investor) finds that he is controlling an empire through Olimpia in company with Benetton, Gnutti, Unicredit and Banca Intesa.
However the debts remain. The new strategy to reduce them is simple. It’s that of the second hand dealer: sell and get rid of it. Seat, Telespazio, Finsiel, a part of Tim, and Telecom’s buildings are sold for cash. Many activities of the group are encapsulated and got rid of.
But this isn’t enough. The margins on the fixed and mobile phones get smaller and the debt does not allow for the necessary investments. There’s risk of an implosion, or the loss of control if new partners were to come into Olimpia.
Coming to 2005, Tronchetti merges Telecom and Tim with the latter being bought through a takeover. Telecom gets even more into debt but gets access to the cash produced daily from the mobile phones.
The operation is announced as strategic. An industrial strategy that lasts 18 months. Then there’s a return to the old. The fixed and the mobile are separated so that they can be sold in pieces; one or both isn’t known. Unicredit, Banca Intesa and Hopa leave Tronchetti to his destiny. Benetton devalues the Telecom shares that at the time they were bought in 2001 were valued at more than 4 Euro and today are worth half that.
Tronchetti kept the value of the shares at an affectionate value but finally he had to devalue them with a domino effect on the Pirelli group.
He resigns leaving 41,000,000,000 in debts. That’s not counting the bonds and the various pieces of paper (the IOUs to the investors), more or less the same as with Colaninno. But with a minus value as all the companies are sold off.
The guilty one is thus clear. It is the middle finger of the invisible hand of the market. The one that has hit all those who lost their jobs and their savings invested in Telecom shares. It is a finger that sees well. Very well. That’s why it takes no notice of managers and controlling shareholders, which is why Telecom has been a great business. The best in a lifetime.
For Parmalat the Guardia di Finanza {Finance Police}came to fetch me from Nervi. They wanted to find out how I managed to know all the facts. I took with me a folder on which was written Telecom to help them take their work forward.
They didn’t take me seriously. But of course that’s how it should be as I’m just a comic. This time I’m expecting Consob or the Stock Exchange to employ me. From comic to global financial consultant. I’ve decided to take the great leap.
To take control of Telecom without even forking out a Euro. A Genovese takeover. I have started the `share action` to ask the small investors if I can represent them. To go to the shareholders meeting and give a kick up the backside to the directors starting with the independents. Those who want to participate can do so through my blog.”


Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:16 PM in Economics | Comments (13)
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September 22, 2006

Stock Exchange Orgy

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The directors on the Telecom Italia Board haven’t taken it very far. They aren’t made of the same stuff as Charles Duvall in the Godfather. Marlon Brando paid him to listen to him.
These were paid to listen to Tronchetti. In these years with a great outcome they always agreed with their president.
And even they are in a bad outcome right now. They were admirable in the merger of 2005, in the split of 2006 and I hope, very soon even in the farewell.
Perhaps 82% of the shareholders are not in agreement with them. But it’s not possible to receive the individual wishes of everyone: 18% is far and away sufficient. The newspapers talk about intercepts that went through the top level Telecom people, of invoices for millions of Euro paid to companies that are being investigated for espionage. Did the Board of Directors know that? Had they heard nothing? Had they seen nothing?

It’s all the same anyway. If they knew and kept quiet, they should be removed. If they didn’t know they should be removed anyway for incompetence. The map of Telecom, last updated March 2006, that I’ve presented in part, in my shows, is an orgy. The same persons are everywhere, in the Stock Exchange, Directors, Auditors, multi-roled, multi-paymented.

The diagram needs a bit of explanation. At the centre there’s Telecom. Around that in the first circle, members of its Board of Directors, connected with a green line, and its Auditors, connected with a purple line. The Directors and the Auditors who are also to be found in other Boards of Directors have a green or purple line that connects them to the company in the second circle.

In the third circle there are Directors who are present in at least two companies that are connected to Telecom.
The map that is attached needs to be enlarged to be able to read the names.
Happy reading and happy investing.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:02 AM in Economics | Comments (23)
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September 17, 2006

Back to the future

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Enzo Ferrari, mechanic, driver and then head of the company. Camillo Olivetti, designer of typewriters and then head of the company. Arnoldo Mondadori, office worker in a stationary shop, publisher and then head of the company.

Ask Ghidella, booted out not for incompetence but because of too much competence. Money, finance are results, a derivative. And today, the derivatives of a derivative command and destroy the companies. They transform the companies into dividends, stock options, into balance sheets in the red, into debt. Their current accounts however are always in the black just like the night.

When they are thrown out (it happens at times) they demand golden handshakes of millions of Euro even if the company is on the edge of bankruptcy. The State, as was seen for the Railways, as will be seen for Alitalia, gives in straight away. It pays them rather than sack them for good reason.

With our money, with our budgets. For the logic of power and appearance. The more they earn, the more they are considered to be important. Newspapers go mad about them. It’s not important how much damage they have done up until now. It’s certain that they will be allowed to do even greater damage in the future.

The enormous salaries given to managers of public and private companies (often not competent to do the job) are an enchantment. They themselves are an enchantment to be transferred to an island. Islands like Alcatraz and l’Isola dei Famosi { The Island of the Famous = Italian version of the reality TV show “I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!”}are OK as long as they are surrounded by sharks.

To put them at their ease. Why does a technician, a labourer, an office worker of a company have to earn 1000 to 1500 Euro a month and the CEO, the president, the general manager earn millions of Euro? Where is the logic?

If the technician makes a mistake, he’s thrown out. If it happens to the manager, he gets a golden handshake. Where is the seat of this great added value of the heads of companies? Modern Einsteins who one year proclaim the strategic validity of the landline-mobile phone merger and the next year exactly the opposite and no one laughs in their face. It’s a value that is hidden, very hidden. Mysterious. It’s time that it comes into the light, that there’s understanding and that they get out from under our feet.

Ps: The share action initiative is continuing. Click and delegate.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 01:05 PM in Economics | Comments (11)
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Back to the future

Enzo_Ferrari.jpg

Enzo Ferrari, mechanic, driver and then head of the company. Camillo Olivetti, designer of typewriters and then head of the company. Arnoldo Mondadori, office worker in a stationary shop, publisher and then head of the company.

Ask Ghidella, booted out not for incompetence but because of too much competence. Money, finance are results, a derivative. And today, the derivatives of a derivative command and destroy the companies. They transform the companies into dividends, stock options, into balance sheets in the red, into debt. Their current accounts however are always in the black just like the night.

When they are thrown out (it happens at times) they demand golden handshakes of millions of Euro even if the company is on the edge of bankruptcy. The State, as was seen for the Railways, as will be seen for Alitalia, gives in straight away. It pays them rather than sack them for good reason.

With our money, with our budgets. For the logic of power and appearance. The more they earn, the more they are considered to be important. Newspapers go mad about them. It’s not important how much damage they have done up until now. It’s certain that they will be allowed to do even greater damage in the future.

The enormous salaries given to managers of public and private companies (often not competent to do the job) are an enchantment. They themselves are an enchantment to be transferred to an island. Islands like Alcatraz and l’Isola dei Famosi { The Island of the Famous = Italian version of the reality TV show “I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!”}are OK as long as they are surrounded by sharks.

To put them at their ease. Why does a technician, a labourer, an office worker of a company have to earn 1000 to 1500 Euro a month and the CEO, the president, the general manager earn millions of Euro? Where is the logic?

If the technician makes a mistake, he’s thrown out. If it happens to the manager, he gets a golden handshake. Where is the seat of this great added value of the heads of companies? Modern Einsteins who one year proclaim the strategic validity of the landline-mobile phone merger and the next year exactly the opposite and no one laughs in their face. It’s a value that is hidden, very hidden. Mysterious. It’s time that it comes into the light, that there’s understanding and that they get out from under our feet.

Ps: The share action initiative is continuing. Click and delegate.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 01:05 PM in Economics | Comments (11)
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September 14, 2006

Snakes of Cement

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Building is a snake that eats its own tail. That devours itself. At the entrance to a city we are welcomed by a forest of cranes as opposed to walls and gardens. In the roads, new exit roads, roundabouts and underpasses. Third and fourth lanes. The villages invest the municipal budgets in building works. ICI { L'Imposta Comunale sugli Immobili = local tax based on property} is the new engine for bricks.

Houses are taxed to build houses. Second houses, third houses. Empty industrial sheds for sale, for rent are strung out along the motorways for scores of kilometres. Cables appear like an enchantment between woods and mountains. Construction isn’t for living in, for a real need. It’s to make money.

To “invest”. Stability and the fall in prices is a risk, a problem, a disaster. But for whom?
Every new construction occupies space, resources, and destroys the territory. Italy seen from on high is a boot of cement with a bit of green all around.

Italian provinces are full of abandoned houses to be restructured and of new houses that are empty. Italian cities are full of empty offices (or empty of full offices) and overflowing with new buildings being constructed. There’s an orgy of cement. But cement produces nothing. Rather, if it’s not necessary it simply destroys.
The request for new construction licences should be granted only if existing alternatives are not present. Give incentives to restructure existing houses. How many offices, apartments, buildings are empty in Italy? How many are being constructed? Construction is justified because it makes money, because bricks are safe. But it’s a game that massacres the territory.

And economic resources that could be destined at least on the part of the public administration, to the territory, to services for the citizens. What’s the sense in investing in cubes of concrete rather than in research? There must be some sense while we are waiting for the buildings bubble that is coming soon. A wind is blowing from the other side of the Atlantic. Towards Europe. After that we can invest in demolition and the recovery of the territory. Snakes that eat their own tails.

PS “Fabbricare fabbricare fabbricare {Build, build, build}
Preferisco il rumore del mare {I prefer the sound of the sea}
Che dice fabbricare fare e disfare {That says build, make and unmake}
Fare e disfare è tutto un lavorare {Make and unmake is all work}” (Dino Campana)

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:23 AM in Economics | Comments (30)
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September 13, 2006

Share action. Let’s give it a go!

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Who does Telecom belong to? And who has built it up year after year with their taxes if it’s not generations of Italians? Well then let’s try to take it back. The mechanism is simple.
If everyone owning Telecom shares wants to give me their proxy vote, I can go along to the Telecom shareholders’ meeting and make sure your voice is heard so that the whole Board of Directors is fired. So you see it’s worth the effort to attempt it.
To get this project to work we need loads of people. Send me your expressions of interest by using this form so that I can weigh up how feasible this project is and then have a go at making it happen.
Below you’ll find a legal explanation of the whole process so that your right to vote can be put into effect:

”Telecom is quoted on the Stock Exchange so the shares are bought and sold in markets that are regulated and they are not physically in the hands of the shareholders but they are figuratively deposited in the Bank and the ownership of the shares is demonstrated by a series of registrations.
The shareholder who intends to participate in the Telecom shareholders meeting thus has to ask the Bank holding the deposit of the shares for the admission ticket to the shareholders meeting indicating the person to whom the shareholder intends to delegate interventions.”

For a project like ours, the rules relating to assigning the proxy vote are given in articles 136 onwards in the Dlg 58/98.
Indicate to me that you are interested in this and I will put our project into action.

Let me enjoy this. Rise above the humiliations that have been suffered in recent years as users and as shareholders. The Board of Directors sacked by its real shareholders through a comic. Something that has never in the world been seen before. An 9/11 of the capitalists without capital that weigh on our society.

Lasses and lads, let’s get stuck in.
Participate, participate, participate.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:23 AM in Economics | Comments (8)
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September 04, 2006

Genoa-Style Takeover

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Telecom is available for a takeover. Its value on the Stock Exchange is about half that of when Tronchetti arrived. Tronchetti’s package, that allows him through a series of Chinese boxes comparable to a trapeze artist in finance circles, to control Telecom, is worth double the market value.

Even though it’s only got half the value. The reason is not known. Consob, the Stock Exchange and the Bank of Italy don’t know. However Tronchetti knows and at least in this respect he is human. To hand over the package of control he would like it to have, because of nostalgia, the value it had in 2001. Well even all the other shareholders would like that for their shares. Who can criticise them for that?

If there were a takeover bid for Telecom shares at a price slightly above the Stock Exchange price, Tronchetti would go home. And he would have to devalue the shares in his possession. I don’t have the money to do a takeover. However I’ve thought of an alternative. A Genoa-style alternative.

A Genoa-style takeover. Without having to put down any money, a bit like Italian financiers. But with respect to them without building up a debt with the banks.
Through the blog, and with the support of a legal firm I will ask for the representation of all those who own Telecom shares. If I get enough support I will call a shareholders meeting and I will sack the Board of Directors. That’s not a joke.

Considering that there’s nothing moving on the idea of “class action”, let’s move to facts and do a “share action”. Small shareholders all over the world unite. (Before the arrival of Murdock, the brown knight).

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 01:08 AM in Economics | Comments (15)
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September 03, 2006

Beautiful costs for beautiful banks

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source: www.lavoce.info


Soon to be the CEO of Intesa-San Paolo, Passera is at Cernobbio on Lake Como. He’s as happy as Napoleon at the end of the Italy Campaign. And who wouldn’t be in his shoes if you add up salary and stock options?

The location and the sun have moved him to make a lyrical declaration: “The integration project for SanPaolo-Intesa is really beautiful.” A picture by Caravaggio, a statue by Canova. He then reassures the clients: “They can be reassured. If they work with both banks they will see their credit ratings summed and not reduced.”

The candour of the declaration is fascinating. It brings to mind the adverts for il confetto Falqui {a brand of laxative}: “Just say the word.” If I have two credits with two banks, I can expect an increase in the credit rating, since at the appropriate time I provided a guarantee to each one.

Passera continues: “It’s an operation with only winners”. No losers. But doesn’t the merger involve that lovely word: rationalisation? That word when translated into prose means a 30% cut in personnel? But perhaps I’m wrong.

Anyway the clients will be happy. Happier. Very happy. The client of SanPaolo-Intesa is very beautiful. Straight after the merger, they can take advantage of Italian banking services at European costs. The average cost of Italian banking services is higher, much higher than European ones. We are at the top. We’re the very first. We’re beautiful. And the unlucky ones that bought tango bonds and Parmalat will be reimbursed but only after a certain age.

Gripped by sincere exaltation, he added: “if we hadn’t had a common vision, common values, the wish to work together, reciprocal understanding, in such a short time we would not have been able to get going such a stupendous project that has been started.” What feeling. What a start.


Posted by Beppe Grillo at 04:15 PM in Economics | Comments (60)
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August 27, 2006

State Sting

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A taxpayer can wait up to 24 years to be reimbursed by the tax office. To get our money back the average wait is 11.3 years. According to contribuenti.it, the State has 26,000,000,000 Euro that it should give back to the citizens. And in the last three years this debt has almost doubled.
Basically anyone paying tax, if they pay too much are cuckolded and beaten. It’ll be their heirs to get the reimbursement. Those who don’t pay don’t have this problem. At the first amnesty that comes by, they get sorted out.
The fight against tax evasion announced by this government is good and just. But to make it credible it’s necessary to FIRST sort out those who have overpaid and give them back their money. Otherwise next time they could get suspicious and get transformed into tax dodgers. But why can’t the taxpayer deduct the credit from their next declaration? Is it so difficult? If they made a mistake, the tax office could check and get the money back.
In August the index of trust of Italian taxpayers fell and the index of tax evasion increased by 8.45%. It’s an obvious result with the honest getting beaten up and the dishonest getting condoned or pardoned.

The citizen that makes a mistake in the tax declaration is threatened with expropriation, denunciation, surtaxes, and fines. If the State doesn’t pay, everything is OK. As a reciprocal arrangement I propose that the State gives 30% on top of the amount due for each year of delay.

When a company or a person does not honour a debt, I can take an action against them in the courts. Why can’t I do the same with the State? Then if it weren’t able to pay, the judge could impound the furniture and the pictures of the Ministries and arrange for the sacking of a few thousand State employees. Starting with those who are in charge of tax reimbursements.

P.S. Guess how many employees there are in the Ministry of the Economy

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 01:59 PM in Economics | Comments (8)
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August 20, 2006

ENI and the game of 3 cards

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The cost of oil is increasing all the time. The cost of petrol is increasing all the time. Heating oil is by now a luxury item. But there is a body that is watching out for us: ENI.

ENI is the company managed by Scaroni who has been definitely convicted for corruption. ENI’s controlling shareholder is The Treasury, that is us. Eni is making profits on profits.
5,000,000,000.28 Euro of net profits in the first six months, with an increase of 21.5% in relation to 2005.

But the increases that we’ve had to suffer, what have they been for? Didn’t we have an oil emergency? If oil costs more and we pay more, I’m stumped as to why ENI can gain more. It’s finance magic. It’s a joyous Mystery. A game of three cards.

Paolo Scaroni, ENI’s CEO. Has commented like this the results of the first six months:
“In the first six months, ENI has seen excellent results operating in a context of high oil prices, of a significant increase in our production of hydrocarbons and of a marked growth in the European demand for gas. I hope and trust that 2006 will be for ENI another positive year and this is why I intend to propose to the meeting of the Board of Directors on 21 September an anticipation of the 2006 dividend of 0.60 Euro per share”. This is obviously following on from the:
2006 interim dividend following the international best practice of reporting. On the basis of the examination of the results of the first six months of 2006 and in accordance with the international best practice of reporting, the Managing Director intends to propose to the meeting of the Board of Directors on 21 September which has been called to approve the 6-month report, the distribution to the shareholders of an anticipation of the 2006 dividend of 0.60 Euro per share (0.45 Euro in 2005, +33.3%) to be paid starting from 26 October 2006 by detaching the coupon dated 23 October 2006.”

A piece of advice to the Government: change everything at ENI. It’s one of your precise duties for the Italians. Those who manage monopolies of primary goods (and energy is exactly that) cannot first think of the dividends and then of the country. The profits should be reinvested in alternative energy to reduce the dependence on oil. Energy in Italy is not a market but a way of distributing Euros to ENI shareholders.


P.S. I’m asking Mincato, the previous Managing Director of ENI who was removed without reason, to telephone me to make me understand. Call me Mincato…

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 09:06 PM in Economics | Comments (7)
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August 12, 2006

The Roundabout Economy

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Well then, if a Government, take any, take the Italian government, if it allows me to use debts to buy the motorway concession. And I’m called Benetton. What should I do? I accept straight away. I ask the bank for a loan. If there are profits, I distribute the dividends.
If, for no fault of my own, I am behind with the investments (there’s talk of 2,000,000,000 Euro) I merge with Abertis and get a windfall of 670,000,000 Euro of extraordinary dividends. Obviously the company still has the debt. Meanwhile I’ve constructed loads of Autogrill on the motorways: toll + cappuccino + cake + orange juice. All for me.
The government intervened in relation to the merger with Abertis. Padoa Schioppa and Di Pietro have not allowed the concession given to Autostrade to be transferred to Abertis-Autostrade. This is perhaps the first Government action of the last few years.
From that moment, for the press, Italy is protectionist, Bolshevik and against the market.
I’m a comic but they are stealing my job from me.
The Motorways belong to the State that can give them in concession and the market has nothing to do with it. If I have to go from Milan to Bologna how many motorways can I choose? One. Well then the market has nothing to do with it. Anyone who is managing the motorways should invest the profits to improve them. Full stop. That’s it. What’s the relevance of dividends?
What’s the use of the money resulting from the merger of Abertis with Benetton? This is a great question. Perhaps, and I only say perhaps, it’s to support its position in Olimpia that’s controlling Telecom Italia. And who is there in Olimpia? Tronchetti who needs new partners and liquidity after the decision of Unicredit and Banca Intesa to exit.
It seems like a roundabout: State-concession-industry-debts-merger-newspapers-concession. Ring a ring o roses, a pocket full of posies, atishoo, atishoo, we all fall down...

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 01:41 PM in Economics | Comments (6)
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August 07, 2006

Bums and variable interest rates

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Bersani has done a tiny wee bit of liberalisation. For the moment without touching strong powers. The banks have only been touched by pinpricks like the contextual adjustment, following monetary policy decisions about interest rates for borrowing and lending by a client.
This is a request that seems obvious. If the cost of money increases, it increases for the client as well as for the bank. And the bank cannot make pots of money from it. In fact, the banks should have aligned their rates without waiting for the State to impose that.
The new president of the Associazione Bancaria Italiana {ABI - Italian Banking Association} doesn’t accept this and has given an interview to il Corriere that needs interpreting.

Interview: the new president of ABI, Corrado Faissola
Date: Saturday 5 August 2006
Newspaper: Il Corriere della Sera

“It was not felt that this measure was necessary.”
should be read:
”It’s legitimate to cream off money from people.”

“It has not created advantages for competitors. In fact it creates further reasons for conflict between banks and clients.”
should be read:
”Now the clients can get angry with the banks if they rip them off and this is justified by the law.”

"Individual banks will decide how to apply the new regulations. I want to say that it isn’t an obligatory law but a guiding law. It is subject to many interpretations, as happens for all laws.”
should be read:
”We will interpret the law, that is the guidance, and then we will do a bit of what pleases us.”

Faissola also talked about the increase in the interest rates of the European Central Bank and about the increase in mortgage costs.
The journalist asked him if the banks were responsible for having suggested the variable interest rates and increasing the risks for the clients if there is an increase in interest rates, he replied:
“The increase in costs of the mortgages will be automatic considering that the repayments refer to the market interest rates”
should be read:
”We’ll take no prisoners”
and
”It seems strange that anyone who has taken out a mortgage at 2% should think that interest rates would fall further and not – as is happening - that they would rise… The client asked for it (the variable interest rate). It was too tempting.”
should be read:
”We think of the interests of the bank, not of the client’s interest.”

The increases in mortgage repayments will be too much for many families. What will happen to their houses? Who will gain from this situation?
Italians with variable interest rates on your mortgages, tell us your stories. I’ll collect them to send them to the ABI.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:29 AM in Economics | Comments (6)
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August 03, 2006

The odyssey of the companies

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Starting up a company in Italy is a real effort. You need a super-human will and a certain propensity to masochism. That’s explained in the report of the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation called “Doing Business in 2006: Creating jobs”.

The report compares the different countries for starting up and closing down a company, getting licences, taking on personnel, paying taxes, registering ownership, access to credit, legal proceedings and protecting investors. In 2005, Italy was in 70th position. Before Italy there was Panama, the Solomon Islands, the Tonga islands, Colombia and Mongolia.

In these countries, life is easier than it is here for those who want to invest their own money in an activity and create jobs.
A legal action brought by a company to get its rights respected, in Italy takes on average 1,390 days. In the world the only country to beat that is Guatemala. But what will it have that’s less than us? To import goods you need an average of 16 documents, 10 signatures and 38 days.

But, even in these conditions of ”extreme entrepreneurship” the Italians manage to start up businesses and keep them open, but not always. Italians abroad have success because they just have to do the work, without thinking about the bureaucracy. They start off already hardened by years of handicap.

Recount your odysseys in this post. We can share together the vexations and the acts of heroism.


PS The report in English can be downloaded for free.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:05 AM in Economics | Comments (21)
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July 19, 2006

Ménage à trois

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Banks, companies and the media. The threesome that wins big stakes when you play the Italian Lotto. The banks possess the companies or more often their debts. And when the debts are too big, they transform them into bonds for affectionate clients. Banks and companies possess the media that highlights their virtues. The great Italian publishing houses are called Tronchetti, Benetton, De Benedetti, Berlusconi, Luca Cordero. They are personalities emerging from the entrepreneurpublisherbankers. They are individuals with super power. They are ever-present on the Boards of Directors.

In their own bodies, or as ventriloquists using the independent Directors.
It’s a bundle of wool without individual threads. It’s a jumble in which everything is the contrary of everything else. It’s managed by an oligarchy that has debts in the companies and profits in their own bank accounts. The media cannot judge the companies and the banks that own them. The banks have nothing to gain by forcing into bankruptcy the companies that are participants in the control of the banks and are already failed. The companies in difficulty use the banks to transfer debts and they use the media to ensure that the collapse does not emerge.

It’s a Bermuda Triangle. An association of interests. A black hole in which the citizen disappears. The shareholder disappears. The reader disappears. The banks stay on their feet solidly anchored to political power. One after the other, the companies are plundered. The media live from State support, with our taxes and from advertising.

There’s something morbid, sickly, something like a red light film for sado-masochistic managers in these connections. Why can’t a bank just be a bank, a newspaper just be a newspaper, the company just a company? Why do we have to have a system in the place of an economy? Perhaps because the economy no longer exists?

Prodi hit the taxi drivers who hit the journalists. Bersani has equalised and the Italians have lost. If Prodi were to attack the strong powers what would happen? Will he lose 10 to 0? If he imposes a net division between information, finance and companies, how long will his government last? A week? But if he doesn’t do this, how long will Italy last?


Posted by Beppe Grillo at 09:06 PM in Economics | Comments (8)
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July 18, 2006

Eni responds to the blog

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Enrico Mattei

Eni has replied to the post “Manager Wanted”.

"Dear signor Grillo,

I’m writing to you to clarify the information that was contained in your blog of 11 July 2006 relating to Eni.
Italy does not have new infrastructure like the regasifiers that can broaden the horizon of suppliers and consequently lower the price of gas. Italy produces slightly more than 10% of the gas that it consumes, and is obliged to depend almost exclusively on imports from abroad. I would like to remind you that just two countries together, Russia and Algeria, supply Italy with almost 70% of the gas that it needs.

The label of monopolist can certainly not be applied to the ones buying this gas. On the other hand, all the main companies operating in the Italian market could buy gas. It’s necessary to understand what advantages would then be seen by the final consumer. In addition to that, the Decreto Legislativo 23 May 2000 n. 164 – better known as the Letta Decree, established among other things, that until the end of 31 December 2010, there are limits to the dimensions of the operators. In other words, this establishes norms for the liberalisation of the domestic market for natural gas with a marked impact on the way that Eni operates. With the levels imposed on our company, this has created in Italy a position of dominant player certainly weaker than the former monopolies of other European countries.

Lastly, the price of gas for the consumers is not fixed by the company, but by the Autorità per l’Energia Elettrica ed il Gas {Gas and Electricity Authority} with the intention to protect the final user as much as possible. As well as being tightly connected to the price of petrol, the price of gas Is subject to a large tax burden. Without taxes, the price of gas in Italy, related to January this year, would have been 373 euro per 1,000 cubic metres, compared to a European average of 433 euro (459 for Germany, 418 for Spain e 399 for France). With taxes however, the prices are 651 euro for 1,000 cubic metres in Italy, 600 euro in Germany, 485 in Spain and 471 in France (543 euro being the European average).
According to a recent Eurostat survey, the price of gas between January 2005 and January 2006, increased by 15.2% for industry and by 7.6% for families and that can be compared to the average increase for the European Union of 33% for industry and by 16% for families.

In absolute terms, the price of gas per gigajoule in Italy for industry is the tenth highest: 7.65 euro compared to 11.58 in Germany, 8.27 in France, 7.24 in Spain, where there are many regasifiers (European Union average 8.20 euro); for the families the price is 16.50 euro (fourth highest) compared to 15.98 euro in Germany, 12.72 in France and 13.63 in Spain. It is to be noted that for the families, the price is higher than the average because Italy has a higher incidence of taxes on the price of gas.

I am sure that you will want to report these concepts to your readers. Greetings.
Gianni Di Giovanni,
Head of external communications Eni.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:32 AM in Economics | Comments (1)
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June 29, 2006

Double fifth and triple organ

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Now that we have got Italy into debt with one of the most massive public debts in the world, we must get the Italians into debt. The route of individual debt, family debt, and company debt is the real challenge for Italians as they face their future. The more they get into debt, the more they risk becoming beggars. We are the country of “Carpe Diem”, of “let he who wants to be happy, be happy, for tomorrow there’s no certainty”, of Divine Providence and of business people that are proud of the solidity of their debts. But the problem is that Italians are already in debt and the only possibility for them is to get more into debt. A debt on top of a debt.

Today there’s the double fifth. It’s a cheery proposal that overcomes the limit of a fifth of your salary to be able to get a loan. It sounds great. It’s pure marketing. Double fifth. Great.

And then there’s the financing of finance. If you no longer have the money to pay off the regular loan repayments, you are refinanced, even for a greater amount. If you’ve got a yoke round your neck, they offer you another one, a bit tighter. The future will be the triple organ, kidneytesticlelung (anyway you’ve still got one left) as a final solution for sorting out your debts.

Or the neighbourhood loan shark, who if things go really badly, can be paid in kind with wife or sister. But do you want the satisfaction of an exotic holiday or a new car? There’s no comparison.

A debt is a promise and every promise is a debt. The posters and advertising are full of promises of the banks and finance people. But instigation to poverty, shouldn’t that be a crime? To make money out of getting families into debt for futile reasons is that not deceitful advertising? What is superfluous becomes necessary. Savings become debts. The banks get fatter, but the standard of living is OK.


Posted by Beppe Grillo at 12:01 PM in Economics | Comments (3)
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June 21, 2006

Who dares wins – on a Vespa

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Sergio Cusani has sent me a letter about Piaggio on the Stock Exchange. I’m attaching the letter and presenting the start of it here.

" On 12 June at Pontedera there was a national conference promoted by national FIOM-CGIL and categories, jointly with the territorial structures of Lecco, Pisa and Venice together with ADUSBEF e FEDERCONSUMATORI that are historic associations that defend savers, consumers and users. Pontedera is the town where there is the HQ of the biggest factory in Italy of the Piaggio Group. This is owned by Roberto Colaninno’s IMMSI holding. (Colaninno, Gnutti and Consorte of Unipol are the ones who privatised Telecom while D’Alema was leading the government. They mostly used bank loans, that is, they used debts and these are still weighing on the new Pirelli/Benetton management.)

I too was present representing Banca della Solidarietà. Together with the small company Practice Audit di Milano I had already analysed the balance sheet and the current economic and financial situation of the Immsi/Piaggio group. Though small, Practice Audit di Milano is an unfettered company that has been working on behalf of the Trades Union and has been monitoring the situation of Fiat and other big industrial groups.

Among those present at the conference were representatives of local, provincial and regional institutions, journalists and women and men delegates from the companies Piaggio, Aprilia and Moto Guzzi (part of Colaninno’s Group). These delegates talked about their direct daily experiences and told us of how things really work in the various factories. And it’s not all about roses and flowers. Quite the opposite.

The national Conference was also aiming to provide critical but constructive analysis of the future launch of Piaggio & Co SpA on the Stock Exchange.

Among the points discussed were those made in the letter dated 1 June 06 (attached) that was sent to the Ministers Padoa Schioppa, Bersani, Damiano, and Ferrero and to the President of Consob, Cardia, and in particular:

- the operation of launching Piaggio on the Stock Exchange must be considered to be a unique and never to be repeated opportunity to source new financial resources to inject into Piaggio directly so as to sustain and reinforce the revitalisation process and the commercial and industrial development of the Piaggio Group in Italy, in Europe and in the world.

- for these reasons, and so as to sustain the development project that had been announced “urbi et orbi”, by the President, Colaninno, and by the CEO, Sabelli , it is thus absolutely necessary to modify the structure of the way Piaggio is to be launched on the Stock Market from an Offerta pubblica di vendita (OPV){Public Sales Offer} that is an operation by which the IMMSI holding only pays back its creditors and private financers, funds and banks, not with money but with quoted shares of Piaggio that is controlled, that is with pieces of paper (Piaggio shares): that is definitely a financial operation that does not affect the Piaggio company but remains exclusively within the realm of the relations between the IMMSI holding and its partners and creditors.

- in a mixed operation of OPV and Offerta pubblica di sottoscrizione (OPS) (Public Subscription Offer} that sees an increase in capital in money that comes through the Stock Exchange, to the market of public savings and unlike for the OPV, fresh new capital really enters directly into the company, that is into Piaggio.

In fact we have discovered that the structure of the launch of Piaggio onto the Stock Exchange, as devised by Colaninno in financial terms, only offers the Piaggio’s controlling shareholders , that is Immsi/Colaninno, the chance to resolve their financial relationships, that is their debts, with their partners by giving them paper rather than money. They are given Piaggio shares that have the fundamental advantage that once they are quoted on the Stock Exchange, they can be sold easily in the stock market and placed with savers. Such savers are often referred to as “signora Maria”, the many many people who invest the labour of a lifetime in Piaggio shares but they are handing over their savings to the banks. The banks come out fine as they have passed on the so-called “hot potato” to the wider general public. But the savers are not injecting money directly into the Piaggio company even though they are becoming shareholders and thus to a tiny extent, owners….” Sergio Cusani.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 01:50 PM in Economics | Comments (0)
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June 16, 2006

The snake's head

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Who gains from the energy crisis? Arms manufacturers of course. A few days ago I was quoting data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and now their new yearbook is out.

The numbers speak clearly: the increase on the world market in the prices of minerals and fossil fuels has helped the growth in military spending in the world.

You can see this straight away in Algeria, Azerbaijan, Russia and Saudi Arabia, where the increase in receipts from mining has caused an increase in the military expenditure.
This is spending on a world scale that has reached 1,118,000,000,000 dollars (the previous year it was 975,000,000,000). It’s as though every human in the world is spending 173 dollars on arms. And everything finishes up in the pockets of a few people who are getting fewer.
How much has your salary gone up in the last year? The sales of the 100 biggest arms producers went up by 15% reaching 268,000,000,000 dollars. This goes to about 80 companies that are American or from Western Europe.
All this power is concentrated in the hands of the few. In 1990 the top five in the charts had 22% of the receipts, now that is at 44%.
Do you want to know where this money lands up? Go and look at the list of those financing politicians in the whole world.
Do you want to know where all these armaments finish up? Impossible. Data on the life cycle of armaments is scarce and above all it’s of poor quality. The value of information depends on its availability and its trustworthiness. And rarely do the data match up to these requirements at each phase from production to destruction.

A perfect mechanism: petrol finances arms, arms producers finance the politicians who buy the arms to defend the interests of the petrol companies with beautiful wars of liberation.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 09:14 AM in Economics | Comments (2)
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June 14, 2006

Riding the Stock Exchange

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image: corpwatch.org


The Stock Exchange is finally taking off again. This is demonstrated by the new entrants and a host of hopefuls knocking at the door. They are asking, they will be asking for more. For investments, for the future, for us.

The reason why a company wants to get quoted on the Stock Exchange is obvious: to get money. And the bigger its debts the more it asks, the bigger its negative balance, the more it needs. It finds buyers for its shares through the banks, through the newspapers, through investment funds, through the counter clerks, through the financial advisers, through advertising. Those who get to the Stock Exchange are those who want your money or are those who have none left. Does it seem possible that a company that has never had profits can get quoted on the Stock Exchange? That a company with a frightening level of debts can be on the Stock Exchange? That a company with a single client can be there? That’s what happens.

The ones who gain like this are the certifiers, those who testify to the strength of the balance sheet and of the business plan. The banks who place the shares gain. The self-nourishing system gains: Consob and the Italian Stock Exchange. Managers gain with stock options. Those shareholders who straight away cash in their shares, gain. That way they don’t risk future losses if the share value falls.
After Calciopoli {investigation into the football scandals} (but has it happened yet?), we’d need a Borsopoli {investigation into Stock Exchange scandals}. That would be so wide-reaching that all the rest would seem like nothing.

A hole bunch of little companies external to the Stock Exchangethat control the big groups, of Chinese boxes, of shareholders that have power but no money, of conflict of interests between companies that are clients and suppliers, of Directors who are on more than one Board, of the lack of regulations that protect the investors. Without class action, without transparency.

But journalists, the true ones, are on our side.
Like Daniela Braidi of La Repubblica who on Monday advised the purchase of Telecom Italia shares that have lost 10% of their value since the beginning of the year and have been loosing value anyway since Tronchetti appeared in 2001. She uses this fascinating turn of phrase: “the shares of the telephone company appear to be more attractive after the sharp correction of the last year and a half”.

An innovative way of reasoning.
According to the article, if you’ve already been taken for a ride, there’s the reasonable probability that it won’t happen again.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:15 AM in Economics | Comments (6)
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May 28, 2006

Music for hot organs

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Comic strip by: Ciccio De Luca

The Chinese are tremendous. They are providing very strong competition for us. And while we are here trying to defend our T shirts behind quotas and import duties, they manage to sell everything to us.
Currently in London and New York (also in Atlanta and Tampa, still in the USA) it’s possible to visit an exhibition, which displays human bodies and organs for didactic and scientific purposes. The organising company has paid 25 million dollars to get these examples from Chinese universities.

And there’s more. While in Italy you have to wait 3 years for a kidney transplant and in USA you wait 2 years. There are those who can get one straight away in Shanghai by paying 100,000 dollars. With a good broker you can get down to 70,000 dollars. If you consider that every year in China there can be up to 8,000 executions each year, the potential for business is understandable.

Given the scarcity of volunteers in our country, transplant tourism has become an important reality. At this point comes the bright idea of the Nobel prize-winner Gary Becker (even Ciampi conferred on him the Gold Medal in 2004): “Let’s legalise the market for organs”.

This Chicago professor is the main supporter of the extension of economic concepts to the analysis of society, from criminality to the family.

Together with a colleague from Buffalo, Julio J. Elias, he has calculated that today the price of a kidney could be about 15,000 dollars, and a liver 35,000 dollars.

As Becker says, with the right incentives we could get a free market in which the price of organs would come down to a level that would eliminate the excess demand for each type of organ.

Our grandparents used to say that the most important thing is health. Among the developed countries, after Lithuania, the United States has the worst rate of infant mortality in the first days of life. Italy is at the other end of the scale. And the lack of health insurance causes 18,000 deaths. Notice that 46 million citizens of the United States are without health cover.

This America of Mr Bush doesn’t seem to be the best place in the world to live, even though there they at least know how much you are worth, at least once you are dead.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 09:26 PM in Economics | Comments (7)
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May 20, 2006

Mediapolis, one year on

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photo by Anthemic Tangle

The best definition of Wal Mart, the world’s biggest distribution outlet, is: “Wal Mart knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” In the United States, the opening of new supermarkets is contested more and more. In tiny centres of population, the economic effects of a new supermarket are disastrous, as local production is swept away and the territory is impoverished. Research results have shown that requests for public assistance double when Wal Mart moves in. The superhypermegagigamarkets form part of the past, of a prehistoric concept of development.

A year ago, I wrote a post on this Blog about Mediapolis, a commercial area part-financed by the Region of Piemonte, by the optimum President Bresso (the TAV one) of the DS party That public money (our taxes) have to finance a supermarket is something above my comprehension. I will have to get help from an expert and try to discuss it at the next gathering of the Province of Turin and I’ll be there on 30 June at its “open doors” event. However, I’d like to ask our employee Bresso a really simple question. The money for Mediapolis, our money not hers, shouldn’t it be used instead for productive activities, that are innovative and that develop the local realities? To develop tourism and to preserve the beauty of Canavese? Among these is the Masino Castle with its balconies that will in the future give wonderful views of the commercial area of Mediapolis and the splendid flow of heavy goods vehicles that will be supplying it.
I’m publishing an open letter from Giulia Maria Mozzoni Crespi, President of FAI - Fondo per l’Ambiente Italiano (Italian Fund for the Environment), to Mercedes Bresso and I await a reply from the mythical Porcellini the director of the mediapoliswhateveritis.


“Dear president,
I have been told that in a recent meeting in a community hall in Eporedia {Old name for the city of Ivrea} you affirmed “Mediapolis is going ahead”. This firm position, as you can imagine, worries and saddens me for the many reasons that I have already set down.

It is true that your Cabinet has approved the agreement that opens up the way to the commitment of a “Programme Agreement”, but the appeal by the Council of State is still pending and that could bring the whole decision-making process back to the beginning. As you certainly remember, the process started off by ignoring a motivated contrary opinion by the Commissione Urbanistica Regionale {Regional Urban Commission}. I have also been told that with regard to Mediapolis, and also in relation to TAV, that you believe it is appropriate to take definitive decisions. But if you allow me to say so, it doesn’t seem completely correct to put these 2 on the same plane. One is the TAV, a massive public operation of European importance and the other is Mediapolis, an initiative with use and advantages that are absolutely private. Of course like any private company it will have an effect in terms of employment.

The presumed public benefits, in particular the much acclaimed figure of 1500 new jobs (that became in one moment even 10,00 jobs) are so far, as far as public knowledge is concerned, completely unsubstantiated, just as, as far as I know the advantage to the public of this enormous public investment has also not been made evident.

Many times we have requested that the decision about Mediapolis should only be taken after an evaluation of the benefits and the general appropriateness, using documents and objective criteria and gathering information from everyone in the whole user base. But we’ve never had a response from the Region. However we are waiting to have the chance to speak in an Open meeting of the Provincial Council and it would please us to be able to think that it won’t be a moment of ritual, with the decisions already taken, but that our reasoning can be listened to and discussed in view of the deep worry and conviction that we are expressing.

As you know, it is not only that there is a risk to the fertile soil, the delicate hydrological equilibrium, and an unrepeatable landscape that determines our opposition, but also the conviction that Mediapolis represents a development model that is not appropriate to Canavese, to its history and to its potential.

Models like that are, by now not appropriate anywhere, because of the waste of energy (can we allow this?) that involves the congestion of private transport as well as the total absence of identity and of integration with respect to the territory occupied.

In fact we are always more convinced that the true key to development that is long lasting and strategically correct is to be found in local initiatives that are being created spontaneously in local communities. We are trying to come alongside these initiatives here in Canavese using our own modest resources as well as our experience. It is a long time since this initiative started and many things have changed: among these are the sensibility and the awareness that the transformation and the alteration of the soils and of the landscape have such a high degree of irreversibility as to inevitably penalise future generations.

Honoured President, I am well aware, that much of the institutional road has been walked for Mediapolis and that normally it is not good practice to discuss a choice too many times, but I would still like to add my personal appeal because this case is so delicate and risky. Please analyse it again calmly and in depth. Please accept not only our help in this activity, but also that of other associations and of the whole local community. It seems that local opinion is much more varied on this issue than it was a few years ago.”
Giulia Maria Mozzoni Crespi.


Posted by Beppe Grillo at 01:33 PM in Economics | Comments (1)
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May 10, 2006

Covered warrants

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Warrant cover.

The banks are in the grip of an orgasm of creative products to balance their budgets. The clients don’t care a toss about the budgets of the banks but they would like their creativity to be directed towards good service at market cost – European market cost – not Italian cost. The banks that deny finance to small enterprises are the same ones that lend thousands of millions of Euro to the Tronchettis and the Benettons. Our money, the money of us the current account holders, of us small scale investors. The managing directors of the banks for too long have been responding to the laws of politics and of the relationships of the gentile salons rather than to the laws of the market.
I’m publishing this letter that is one of the many received about the behaviour of the banks.


“I am turning to you as you are one of the few voices providing warnings to savers about the vexations created by the banks in relation to the employees who are giving financial advice (if you can still call it that…)
The latest “invention” of the bank where I work in view of the recent tendency for the interest rate to go up, is aimed at those clients who already have a variable rate mortgage. We propose an operation “to protect against interest rate risks” that involves selling them variable duration "covered warrants", that should give the client subscribing to them, a regular income if the interest rate goes above a fixed threshold.

These covered warrants, at the end of their natural life then have zero value. They are timed to end more or less when the original mortgages are paid off.

Up to here there would be nothing particularly strange about the operation. But this sale is accompanied by a loan to the client equal to the value of the covered warrants. In practice, first the client pays out high interest payments on the mortgage then they have to take on the acquisition of these warrants that will go to zero (and maybe give them no income if interest rates don’t go up much) and as well as that they pay the interest on the loan to buy them.

You can’t imagine the daily pressure to sell these products (together with the others, often out of date that are already in the catalogue!) I wonder where all this will go in the future. Unfortunately, our clients trust us and we have to be so thick-skinned to reassure them of the benefits of the products and lie to them from the morning to the evening. If we don’t sell these products we are put to one side inside the bank.

The budgets are just “monstrous” and if you don’t manage to achieve them you get terrible reports and no bonus.

I try to resist this pressure but I assure you for the last few years now my nerves are all over the place and above all I’ve started to hate this work that I once enjoyed. The only consolation is when I manage to place better products that don’t damage the client. But that rarely happens.
Thank you for allowing me to let out my anger.
Thanks again.
M."


Posted by Beppe Grillo at 12:44 AM in Economics | Comments (4)
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April 28, 2006

Oedipus Bond

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There is much discussion at the moment about the legitimacy of the participation of banks in companies and vice versa. The incestuous ones deny that this practice is still going on.
It is known that when faced with obscene acts in public places the first rule is to deny, deny always.

Definition of incest:
- incest is sexual relations between persons who are related by strong bonds of consanguinity. (from Wikipedia-Italian)
- sexual relations between an individual and a close relative: father, mother, brother, sister, grandpa, grandma, uncle, aunt (from “informagiovani” = Information Service for Young People).

Definition of financial incest:
- Financial incest is the relationship of direct participation by banks in companies and/or of companies in banks. This relationship has as a collateral effect mass sodomy carried out on those subjects who have shares. (1) Financial incest is thus an act against nature whose erective development is manifested externally to the couple exercising it. The external subjects of this act, always passive, over time, start to shown signs of the abuse suffered and tend to get organised into protest groups. A further collateral effect is the spontaneous formation of company debts in the form of Bonds. The bank that is part of the couple issues these to external subjects, always passive, who may or may not be shareholders.(2)

(1) Cirio and others
(2) Parmalat and others


Posted by Beppe Grillo at 04:22 PM in Economics | Comments (0)
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April 26, 2006

Modern Slaves 4

The Biagi law or rather its application has caused precariousness of work contracts and the lowering of salaries together with the use of highly trained professionals: engineers, technicians, computer experts, to do work of low or very low level. This is what you have told me, this is your testimony that I will pull together into a book: “The Modern Slaves” to be published by the summer on this blog. The book will be downloadable free and the paper version will be for sale.

It seems to me that the Biagi Law needs the following 2 modifications to be applied immediately:

- increase the pay of the “precarious” people with respect to those who have a permanent contract with a tax policy that supports those who are “precarious”

- place a cap on the percentage of workers that a company can employ as “precarious”, for example: 10%.
The Nobel laureate for the Economy Joseph E. Stiglitz has sent me this analysis of the job market in Italy.

There you go, a Nobel Laureate writing to a commedian!

“Dear Beppe,

I get alarming news from Italy: the law about the first job in France is withdrawn after a few weeks of student protests and yet with you in Italy the Law 30 is still is still being used after all these years and it is without opponents. Allow me then a brief reflection. No opportunity is more important than the opportunity to have a job. Policies aimed at increasing the flexibility of work have often seen the lowering of salary levels and a decrease in job security. But flexibility of work has been dominating the debate about the economy in recent years. However, these policies have not kept the promise to guarantee higher growth and lower unemployment rates. In fact, these policies often have perverse consequences for economic performance. For example they cause a lower demand for goods, because of lower levels of income and greater uncertainty and also because of an increase in family indebtedness.

A lower aggregate demand level, in turn, causes lower employment levels. Any programme aimed at growing social justice must start with a commitment aimed at the full use of existing resources and in particular of Italy’s most important resource: Italy’s people.

Even though in the last 75 years, economic science has told us how to manage the economy better, so that the resources are used to the full, it’s true that recession has been les frequent and less serious, many of the policies applied have not been up to the aspirations. Italy needs better policies aimed at supporting aggregate demand; but it also needs structural policies that go beyond that – without being entirely dependent on the flexibility of work. These policies include action on programmes to develop instruction and knowledge, and action aimed at facilitating mobility in the job market.
I share the idea for which the rigidity that is an obstacle to economic growth must be reduced. Nevertheless we believe that every reform that brings about an increase in insecurity for workers must be accompanied by an increase in social protection measures.
Without that, the flexibility is transformed into precariousness.

These measures are obviously costly. Legislation cannot provide for flexibility to be associated with lower salaries; paradoxically, the greater the probability of being sacked, the lower the salary. It should really be the reverse. Even liberal economic theory teaches that if you want to buy a high-risk bond (like the Argentine ones or Parmalat ones –with a high risk of being transformed into waste paper) you expect very high rates of interest in return.
Salaries paid to flexible workers should be higher and not lower because their likelihood of being sacked is higher. In Italy a “precarious” worker has 9 times the chance of being sacked than a regular worker. At the end of their contract they have 5 times less chance of finding another job than a regular worker. But up to 40% of precarious workers are graduates.
But if we want them to serve out chips or work in Call Centres, why do we spend so much money for their instruction?
Thank you for your attention.”
Joseph E. Stiglitz

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:32 AM in Economics | Comments (12)
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April 16, 2006

We’re making Beer

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At Easter: a great bit of news. A tiny wonderful factory has reopened. And it’s partially thanks to this Blog. It’s the brewery at Pedavena and they have sent me this letter.
A tiny starting point, for getting the whole country to begin functioning again. But an important one.

”The Brewery’s siren is back marking out the time frames in the village after 6 months of silence. Tuesday 4 April at 8 o’clock on the dot, activity in the ex-Heineken factory started again. Today it is owned by Castello di Udine Spa.
For all of us it is a great joy and a great satisfaction that we want to share with everyone who like yourself, has supported and helped us to save Pedavena’s brewery.
In this first phase, 20 workers are back at their jobs while 41 are still laid off.
This is the first phase of a long journey that has established that work will be rotated so that everyone gets a chance and by the end of the first year twenty other workers will return. It is hoped that the remaining workers will be back within 2 years.

In the month of April, the machines will be up and running. From the start of May the master brewers can prepare the yeasts so that we’ll have the first beer by the end of the month of May.
Production will once more be a totally Italian beer of great quality. It will be marketed using the age old brand name of Birra Pedavena.

So that the company can produce Birra Pedavena in the traditional ways, it has engaged the master brewer Gianni Pasa who has previously created the famous "birra del centenario" at Pedavena. He’s a real expert and has great experience of working both in Italy and abroad and is passionate about aiming for the highest quality.
In the meantime, as well as carrying out the work to get the machinery working again, we are concentrating our efforts to relaunch the brand name Birra Pedavena by making people aware of its centuries of history. We are also making efforts to reopen the museum which is sited within the factory. Within a short time it will be open to all those who come to Pedavena.

Anyway the new life of Birra Pedavena has started. It’s a life that we can all contribute to, just as we have done to save it.
We would like to thank you once more for your efforts. We will keep you informed of the progress as the situation evolves and as various initiatives are organised.
We would like to take this opportunity to wish you a Happy Easter.”

The workers of Birreria Pedavena.

Happy Easter from Beppe Grillo to blog readers, to MeetUp folk and to all honest Italians.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:04 PM in Economics | Comments (1)
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April 12, 2006

The last shall be first

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And yet they say that we are always the last… When it comes to the cost of labour, we are unbeatable. Italian managers in fact earn more than any other manager in Europe. Perhaps because they are brighter.

In the telecommunication sector, the difference established by the log of unhappiness (Tronchetti) in relation to the most important managers of the sector is impressive.
Tronchetti has pocketed 8 million Euro in 2005 from Telecom Italia, Arun Sarin from Vodafone, second in the league, got 4.7 million Euro.

It’s not easy to understand how a manager that is so well paid has been abandoned by Banca Intesa and Unicredito who backed him when he was buying Telecom Italia.

The banks have come out with 585 million Euro each, the same amount that they put up in 2001. They haven’t gained a Euro. They’d undoubtedly have done better buying Government Bonds.
The banks have encashed at the purchase price in 2001. That is double the value of the current share price, only thanks to an agreement signed at the time.

An ordinary shareholder, fired with enthusiasm for the arrival of Tronchetti, and buying Telecom shares in 2001, today would find today that the value has halved.
Olimpia, the company controlling Telecom, still has shares at 4.2 Euro, but at the same time the value on the stock market is about 2.4 Euro. I don’t understand how this can be possible. Why don’t the controlling authorities oblige them to revalue the share price?

According to Standard & Poor’s, Telecom Italia’s debt is by now at the limits of human comprehension: 56,700,000,000 Euro. This includes guarantees, insurance obligations, leasing operations and securitisation.
With sublime language, the agency Fitch states: the financial flexibility of Telecom Italia has been reduced by the dividend increments announced 7 and 8 March.”
Instead of reducing the debts they distribute dividends and they pay lavish salaries.
It’s like using a bucket of water to have a shower when the house is burning down.

How is Telecom going to get out of this situation? It seems that the "Mastrolindo" (Berlusconi) is about to arrive to save Tronchetti. They can form a circus double act. In fact the whisper is out that Mediaset and Telecom Italia are about to join forces. This way Tronchetti could throw away his debts and the cleaning wizard would be able to control the Internet.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 06:22 PM in Economics | Comments (2)
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April 10, 2006

Good bye Electronics

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Fountain of the 99 Spouts, L’Aquila

More and more frequently I’m being sent letters about companies that are closing down. They are in the sectors of information, electronics and telecommunications. The sectors that should represent the future, here no longer have a present. They are being pushed out by Call Centres headed by incapable finance people who claim to be managers.

I’m publishing this letter from the workers of PoloElettronico of L’Aquila.


“Greetings, Signor Grillo
,

On behalf of the staff of www.poloelettronico.it, we are writing you this email to tell you about the serious situation that up until now seems to be about to put out on the street 550 people. We would like to point out that those of us who are writing to you are not part of Union organisations, but desperate workers who don’t know how to go forward.

The story of Finmek Solutions of L’Aquila started 14/8/2003, after the exit  (23 February 2003) of the American multinational Flextronics from the territory of L’Aquila stealthily leaving 940 personnel out in the cold.
We would like to point out that in the Province of L’Aquila for some time now there has been a process of industrial desertification with a severe loss of jobs.
However we note that this is also the result of the privatisation of Telecom which was brought about 10 years ago, simply to create cash and immediately meant that the Italtel site in L’Aquila was handed over to Siemens which in fact intended even at that time, to abandon the territory of L’Aquila.
In fact in September 2000 Siemens passed the “hot potato” to Flextronics, which already in the first few months of 2001 started a long series of days of lay-offs that involved many employees and they transferred what little work there was still at L’Aquila to their Headquarters in Avellino.
Clearly this “theft of work” soon brought about the sudden exit of Flextronics with the immediate and drastic abandonment of 940 people. After compromises that were more or less clear, with agreements signed even by Gianni Letta, the Undersecretary in the Office of the President of the Council {Berlusconi’s office}, the Government indicated Finmek Solutions as the company to receive the 550 workers. However only 250 of them were actually taken on and this caused a terrible fracture between those taken on and the others.

It was a shame that Finmek was loaded with debts and is a company that falls under the influence of the Marzano Law (for companies like Parmalat). After a few months, like Flextronics, it started to lay off staff because there was not enough work for the 250 employees.

Now after 6 months the drama is evident. There is no industrial solution for the younger workers who have not got the necessary requirements to connect them to a pension. Neither has any fragment of solution been found to help the older workers with adequate funding to take them towards a pension.

Now the Government has disappeared after having given promises and assurances. A note from National Fiom in Rome {Central Office of Federazione Impiegati Operai Metallurgici (Federation of all workers in Metal Industries)} points out that solemn communications from the Government (Berlusconi and Scajola) announced the relaunch of the Group by the Russian company AFK Sistema. Obviously the newspapers believed this and fell for it. But the truth is different. The Russians reserved the right to evaluate the situation in 40 days. That time has passed and there’s no news.

In the Province of L’Aquila, all this activity in meetings discussing the employment situation, the thousands of jobs lost, may have offered the trigger for explosive protest. This hasn’t happened.

However this mustn’t be allowed to be counter-productive since all the workers from the beginning chose civil protest. For example, for Finmek Solutions of L’Aquila, the protest has been more or less clandestine, in spite of the numerous expressions of protest that have been carried out in the last 6 months. The national press has never given visibility that should have been necessary given the high number of jobs at risk in an area where there are increasingly high levels of unemployment.

We have even respected the Pax Olimpica (Olympic Peace) when the carrier of the Olympic Flame with our own Bruno Vespa presented the Ceremony in front of a respectful and enthusiastic crowd. Of course Bruno Vespa is from our city and yet he has never spoken about the situation of Polo Elettronico of L’Aquila. Now that we have respected the Pax Olimpica, we don’t want them to expect us to respect the Pax Aeterna {Eternal Peace}. Grillo, please understand that, in this civil struggle, we are defending our constitutional right, a right to a job. We don’t know which saint we can turn to, who to vote for. We are hoping that you will collaborate with us. You are a worthy man who has the dignity to refuse to serve the usual “padroni".

The desperate workers of Finmek Solutions

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 12:39 PM in Economics | Comments (6)
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April 06, 2006

The Post Office and Little Old Ladies

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If you go into the Post Office to send off a parcel or a registered letter have a look around.
By now almost all the tills are only dealing with current accounts and investments. The Post Office has changed its spots and they are concerned above all to compete with the Banks.
And not just that, they are also competing with shops by selling music, books and improbable objects.
Once upon a time there were with profits Bonds, that for many were a great investment. Anyone who invested 1,000 lire in them 20 year ago got 6,250 (3.23 Euro). Anyone investing in ordinary Bonds would have ogled that kind of return.
Now the Post Office employees propose Bonds with obscure regulations, investment funds and integrated life insurance. The same products that the Banks are selling. They are expensive, risky and unclear. The global consultants chase after the little old ladies clutching their pensions so that they can offer them “futures”.

Anyway, every so often the Post Office comes out with something really tasty. For example indexed with profit bonds. They have only just arrived on the market and yet they are less risky than ordinary Bonds. Their good and their few bad points are explained in detail on the site of the Maths Department at the University of Turin.

To all those who are keen to find ruin I suggest you buy shares in the most highly indebted companies quoted on the Stock Exchange. This will allow their managers and the controlling shareholders (with quotas that are like telephone prefixes) and with salaries that are millions of Euro as well as stock options.
Ruin yourselves for them. They will appreciate it.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 05:27 PM in Economics | Comments (4)
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March 30, 2006

Blood suckers

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I’m a simple person and I try to do simple reasoning. When they explain stuff to me, if I don’t understand I get suspicious. I don’t understand ENEL, ENI, Autostrade, and Telecom Italia. I don’t understand how in a situation of practical monopoly they manage to have monstrous profits with prices higher than the average in Europe and then they increase their tariffs.

From April 1 they’re increasing the electricity price by, +5.7%, and the price of methane gas by, +2.1%.
The Authority for electrical energy and gas has updated the tariffs with an electricity increase that’s the highest of the last 6 years. They say the increases are needed because of petrol prices and the crisis in the supply of methane.

I’m a simple person and I try to do simple reasoning. The main shareholder of both ENI and ENEL is the State, that is us. ENI and ENEL have declared net profits in 2005 of 8,788 million euro and 3,895 million euro respectively. We need fair prices for electricity and energy so that the companies can be competitive and so that families can get to the end of the month. I don’t understand.

It seems that these two companies are getting fat at the expense of the country.
Is it that their managers (guess who placed them there?) get results for themselves (stock options?) and for the big shareholders (guess who they are?) applying a business model for the country that is bomb-proof: the blood sucking model, of the monopolistic blood sucker of course.
If an entrepreneur moves from Genoa to Nice they have better primary services (energy, telephone, connectivity, electricity) at prices that are up to 30% lower. How can an Italian company compete? And then they’re talking of reviving the economy?

The Authority knows that we have prices among the highest in Europe, that these companies have enormous profits, that there’s no reason to increase prices, that they should instead be lowered and thus transfer the benefits to the people and to the companies.

But perhaps the Authority doesn’t know what blood suckers are. Well then I’ll explain:
”Blood suckers have a long body made up of 34 rings. At each end they have a sucker used to attach themselves to the animals. They have a mouth with three mandibles and lots of tiny sharp teeth to get into the skin of the host. While they are penetrating the skin of the host to which they are attached, they excrete an anaesthetic substance.”

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:55 AM in Economics | Comments (11)
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March 22, 2006

Modern Slaves 3

senza futuro3.jpg

The "Modern Slaves" initiative continues with this letter from Mauro Gallegati of the Giorgio Fua' Faculty of Economics at the Universita' Politecnica delle Marche. He has taken the trouble to demonstrate with numbers and graphs what is under the eyes of all of us: that there is a reduction in the number of jobs and that precarious work is increasing, together with the new poor, those that in France are called “the low cost generation”. Write your own stories, the most interesting will be collected together into on online book that will be downloadable free from this Blog.

“Dear Grillo,

Help me. I spend the day gathering data and producing statistics about the economy, and during this election campaign, I don’t know whether to shoot myself in the foot or to ask him to shoot me. I know it’s not easy to trust a person who does numbers for a living, but I would just like to clear up two things on what has happened to workers and unemployed people over the last 10 years, from the time that Prodi led the Government and then the time that  Berlusconi took over up until now.

If on deficit and public debt, GDP, international competitiveness and domestic debts we are all unanimous in saying that the dynamics have been between pretty bad and disastrous, the statistics about unemployment are ones that the Centre Right carries with surety and displays as the product of their actions. At least up until now. Then a few days ago ISTAT {Istituto Nazionale di Statistica} said that last year the number of people in employment fell. Tremonti replied that that’s not true. He said “the only thing that counts is Eurostat” (forgetting that Eurostat gets its figures from ISTAT). Bankitalia said that the problem is that the job openings last a short time only, and that one in four young people have a “precarious” contract. And Maroni responded that limited life contracts are “statistical abstractions”. I have a good mind to show him, as I said, a few numbers to clear this up.

There are two ways to measure employment. You can count the number of people who are working, and how many units of “full time equivalents” there are. The latter method takes into account how many hours each person is working. If there are 2 plumbers working 60 hours a week, the number of employed people is 2, but since each one works the equivalent of one and a half times a normal full time (set at 40 hours a week), the units of work (of full time equivalents) are 3. If then work goes badly, and both work only 20 hours, the number of workers employed is  still 2, but the units of work are now just one. In practise, in one way you are counting heads, in the other way you are counting how much work there is.

In the attached graphs you can see what has happened to work and to workers in the ten years that opened with Prodi and closed with Berlusconi. The first thing to say is employment has grown during the time of the Centre Right. But the growth had already started with the Centre Left. The “small” difference is that during the time of the Centre Left, employment started slowly and then grew. During the time of the Centre Right it started off growing and then slowed down suddenly in the last two years. Looking at the units of work then the slow down is even more drastic and became a drop in the last year (this is what has been emphasised by both ISTAT and Bankitalia). Note that for the first time in the history of the Republic, there are more workers than there are units of work. Yes there are more people working, but there’s little work

occupati_ula.gif
Employed people and units of work.
Source: ISTAT, Statistical Series of national accounts 1970 – 2005. Published: 14-3-2006.

In the second set of graphs which I’m attaching, you can see that even unemployment has fallen in the last 5 years. Once more, this is not a gift from the Centre Right, the fall has been happening (fortunately) for about 10 years. The number of people unemployed is not a figure to look at in isolation. There are situations in which things are going well, but unemployment is increasing: what happens is that many are fired up by an engine of optimism and they set about looking for work, and until they find it the number of unemployed people increases. And there are situations when the market is so depressed that many raise the white flag, give up looking for work, and the number of unemployed goes down. In the graph I’ve shown the number of the so-called “discouraged”, that is people without work who in reply to ISTAT’s question “Why are you not looking for work?” choose the answer “I don’t think I will manage to find work”. The number of discouraged people (600,000 towards the end of 2003) saw a sharp rise taking the number to 1,000,000 early in 2004 and then continuing to rise to about 1,250,000. It’s enough to convince another half million people that it’s useless looking for work and we can take the figures for unemployment to a comforting 5.5%. .
disoccupati_scoraggiati.gif
Unemployed and discouraged


And then the “precarious” workers. By looking at the data from Eurostat, it seems that Berlusconi gets his information about “precarious” work from the second quarter of 2001, where it’s at 9.5%: this was the percentage of workers with a short term contract in relation to the total number of employees. In the second quarter of 2005, we already had 12.5% (and that’s not counting the co.co.co. - Collaborazioni Coordinate e Continuative). Someone like Maroni could make out that the fact that a contract has an end date doesn’t change much. That you know that your job is solid unless you are told otherwise, or that it has an end-date unless you are told otherwise, doesn’t change anything. This is such a great heresy that I sacrificed a Saturday evening and I calculated a simple statistic starting from INPS {Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale} data: the correlation to be seen between the type of contract held by a female worker and the fact that this worker decides to have a child or not. OK, if she has a “precarious” job, the probability that a woman worker will have a child is reduced by a factor of 10.

Thank you for the attention.”

Mauro Gallegati

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:13 AM in Economics | Comments (11)
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March 20, 2006

Goodbye Computer Industry

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Adriano Olivetti

Some employees of Getronics Italia have asked me to give visibility to their story.
This is an affair that is symbolic of the decline of the ICT sector in Italy over the last few years and the lack of action taken by the political and the industrial world.
What’s happened to that Olivetti that competed with the multinationals of the sector in the whole world? What’s happened to Telecom as an ICT company?
How have we managed in just ten years to not count a jot in terms of innovation?
Anyone wanting to give their personal testimony on the ending of the Italian ICT industry is invited to write a comment to this post.

“Our history:

In 1998, Getronics bought Olivetti (Wang Global) and in 1999 it bought Olivetti Ricerca and in this way it gathered together the inheritance of the Olivetti group in Italy and in the world. At the beginning of 2000, having bought Olivetti Ricerca, Getronics Italia employed more than 3000 people and a turnover of more than 500 M’. The years immediately following that saw a significant fall in the market for Information and Communication Technology in Italy and even Getronics suffered a fall in turnover and in margins.

2003
The beginning of 2003 was marked by the use of Cassa Integrazione Ordinaria (lay off) for about 500 employees. On 20 March 2003 Roberto Schisano became the new president of Getronics Italia They said he was “the right man in the right place”. However Schisano was already known to the workers of Getronics ex Olivetti, to the Trades Union, and to the magistrates for the tragic affair of Olivetti Personal Computer: the part of Olivetti dealing with personal computers of which Roberto Schisano was the Managing Director. The company failed in 1999 leaving a hole of 60,000,000,000 of old Lire that was then scooped up by the same Roberto Schisano into Eurocomputers S.p.A, which was a company created for this purpose. A few months later Eurocomputers S.p.A collapsed: and the magistrates of Ivrea are still investigating the affair and Schisano is accused of fraudulent bankruptcy. The most recent hearing was 31 January 2006.

2003-2004
The two-year period 2003-2004 saw great reconstruction. In 2003 there was an agreement with the Trades Union to make use of cassa integrazione straordinaria, solidarietà, mobilità breve and mobilità lunga {different ways of laying off staff}. Getronics was the only ICT company in Italy to make use of the long-term lay off scheme. In this period the company’s capital was halved from about 160m’ to about 72m’. In spite of continued pressure from the workers and the Trades Unions, the Industrial Plan presented to the Ministry of Production in June 2003 was completely ignored in the months that followed and hardly any industrial relaunch policy was put into action. At the end of this reconstruction phase the number of employees of Getronics went from 3000 to about 1950. The turnover fell progressively: in 2004 it was at 280m’.

2005
In January 2005 it was announced that the branch of the company called Desktop On Site Services of Getronics would be sold off. This employed 250 staff and had a turnover of  70 m’. It was the original part that had been the Managed Services of Olivetti. The Trades Union opposed the measure, even during discussions with the Ministry, because it saw this as an indication of a wish to destroy the company. Furthermore it maintained that this was an illegitimate use of Art. 47 that regulates the selling off of a part of a company. Currently there are hundreds of actions brought by workers for having been forced to leave. These actions are coordinated nationally by Fim Fiom Uilm. The determining factor in these cases is the evident conflict of interests of Roberto Schisano.

In fact, Alchera Solution, one of the companies that bought part of the company and so taking on workers and turnover, is part of Gruppo Innotech whose President and Board member is Schisano.

This matter has been dealt with in Parliamentary question in both the Camera and Senato. The year 2005 saw a high level of conflict between the Trades Union, the workers and the company. However the Italian management is lavish and using all possible means of communication internal and external to the organisation it claims that the business in Italy is doing well and is growing.

On 30 November 2005 in institutional setting at the Ministero delle Attività Produttive (MAP) Schisano explicitly declared that Getronics Italia, in spite of the difficulties with a big public commission, is out of the tunnel. He declared that the 2005 results would be in line with the positive expectations and that the year 2006 would be a year of growth and not just of containment.

Having said this Schisano said it was no longer appropriate to have an institutional setting at MAP asking for discussion to be moved to within the company.

2006
On 17 January 2006,Getronics NV announced that due to unexpected losses in Italian activity, they had decided to sell all Italian business activity and to leave Italy. Neither the Trades Unions nor the representatives of the workers were given any communication about this decision. 
A few days later, the Italian company formally told the Region of Puglia and the MAP that it was renouncing the programme called ABSC (Advanced Business Services Center). On 18 January 2006 the National Secretaries of Fim Fiom Uilm asked MAP, the president of Getronics in the Netherlands and the Directors of Getronics Italia to urgently arrange a meeting. Up till now there has been no response from MAP for whom it is evident that the problem does not exist. On 4 February 2006, the capital of the company went from 72 M’ to 8.2 M’ with no official explanation. It seems that, the reduction of the capital together with the recapitalisation of 55 m’ announced the day before, will be a way of sorting out the debt of the years 2004 and 2005.

Thursday 23 February the Getronics Headquarters told workers of all the companies that they control, they had decided to absorb the increases related to the renewal of the national contract and the related “una tantum” of the individual superminimum.

March 2006
The meeting at MAP planned for 2 March between the company and Trades Union organisations was postponed because at the last moment they guaranteed the presence (for the first time) of the Netherlands company management. Even the national demonstration is to be postponed to coincide with the meeting that will presumably be held in the week beginning 13 March. We don’t have much hope since Schisano having devalued Getronics by reducing the turnover and the workforce is interested in picking up the whole of Getronics Italia or at least a part of it. We believe that Schisano is planning the same route taken in relation to Olivetti Personal Computers (OPC) that he is currently on trial for.  Today Getronics Italia ex Olivetti has scarcely more than 1900 people including the colleagues of the Desktop On Site Services that we’ve never stopped considering to be our colleagues. Today it no longer has economic value in the market and it is ready for any type of operation that might be resulting from speculation or might simply be to split it up or it might be a mixture of both options.

Beppe, don’t abandon us!!!

Please, publish this, our memorial!

Our  blog is www.bloggers.it/lavoratorigetronics

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:16 AM in Economics | Comments (5)
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March 08, 2006

Modern Slaves 2

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The Italian post "Modern Slaves" has so far got 3,227 comments (33 for the English language version). People in their twenties, thirties and forties from all over Italy have written comments. Situations are critical, desperate, involving mobbing (bullying), of incomes at charity level.

Reading the comments pulls at the heart strings, especially for young women and men with diplomas, degrees, Masters who find themselves working, if they can, in underpaid positions, without guarantees, for a few months at a time. Without anything.
The Biagi law must be abolished. It’s a law dreamed up by the left and approved by the right. It’s a bipartisan law. A law that externalises the risk from the entrepreneur to the employee, now transformed into a co.co.co and co.co.pro.
The company’s doing badly? The underemployedunderpaid stays at home.
The company’s going well? Another three months of underemployment.
In the comments, the main job available for the new graduates is in a Call Centre (at 3 to 5 Euro an hour) which translated into Italian,  (or English) means breaking the b..ls of someone by phone to sell them services they haven’t requested.
Is this the future we want? To become telephonesalespersonnel?
Enough telephone vending. Enough getting up noses.

What are we doing? We export industries to China and we keep the Call Centres? But let’s do the contrary.
Biagi has become a martyr, a saint of the left used by the right, but this on its own is not a good reason for keeping a terrible law with his name.
I invite whoever has not already done so to tell their story in this new post that will be permanent with a marker on the right hand of the Blog.
Apart from sending an extract to the Party Secretaries (Have you noticed that no-one wants to talk about this law?), I will choose the most important testimonies and will make them available free as an online book with the title: “Modern Slaves”. I hope it will become a best seller.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:59 PM in Economics | Comments (22)
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March 04, 2006

Shock troops

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The Italian sector for the production of multimedia support material is disintegrating.
The biggest production unit in Europe for optical support media Computer Support Italcard (250 employees), is no longer operating in Italy.
The reason for the closure is the decree 68/2003 concerning author’s rights and private copies.
The decree of just reward, born of Urbani’s diabolic mind, establishes an a priori tax on the illicit use of CDs and DVDs on the assumption that pieces of music that are pirate copies will be recorded there.

It’s a tax at source on the basis of a presumed crime.
The tax on the crime to start off with is higher than the wholesale price and has brought about increases of 60%.

The Italians have had two answers to meet these Urbani law measures:
- companies have bought the blank support media abroad at half the price
- private individuals have bought only what they strictly required.

Urbani is a “yes global” and has helped foreign production allowing Italian production to collapse.
But where did they find him in a nightmare? He is  like Gasparri with the digital terrestrial, like Tremonti with the disaster of the public accounts, like Alemanno and the closure of the sugar factories (77,000 jobs), like Lunardi with the big engineering works.

Blimey, these are less like a Governing team than some maleficent genii. They are a lethal weapon capable of taking any country down to its knees. They are true shock troops.

P.S. The German, Swedish, English, and Swiss TVs are following me step by step during my tour of Italy. The only Italian organisation that wants to observe me is the DIGOS (Divisione Investigazioni Generali e Operazioni Speciali).

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:05 PM in Economics | Comments (9)
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March 03, 2006

Bitter Sugar/2

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from www.anb.it

After the publication of the “Bitter Sugar” Post I’ve received many communications about Casei Gerola and about other sugar factories that have closed or that are in the process of closing down all over Italy. From today I’m publishing some communications with the aim of understanding, through your comments, the motivation for dismantling the sugar factories and to have a look to see if there are alternative activities.

Below I’m publishing an extract from a document which is attached, received from Ivan Nardone.

“I’m sending a note about sugar which could help to understand the folly concerning the closure of 13 out of 19 plants in Italy, a country which does not produce enough for its own needs.

Please continue the good work and expressing esteem and affection.”

Ivan Nardone. Rifondazione Comunista Party - European Left - Agriculture Commission

“We have always considered it inevitable that the sugar sector reform will come, This  sector has been unchanged since 1968 and by having minimum guaranteed prices, restrictions on imports and support to exports has allowed the EU price of sugar to be a third higher than the world price. It has meant that the EU has become one of the biggest exporters of sugar so provoking dumping on other countries.

We have always supported the reduction of EU sugar quotas but obviously starting from the countries with over production by assigning to each country in the community that can produce sugar a quota that is in relation to internal consumption, reduced by a proportional quota designed to equalise expected preferential imports, fixing contingents of imports to be agreed with the relevant countries (EBA, ACP, Balkans), recognising minimum purchase prices so as to give support to those countries with weak economies and to realise a harmonious opening to the whole of the European market, as well as cancelling every form of export subsidies from within the Community.

With this position we have seen strikes and we have pushed many local entities to speak out. We’ve also encouraged the European Parliament to speak out and the previous legislature did this on 10 March when it took the position to ask for the respect of all European treaties which in the field of agriculture never support the areas with the loudest voice but claim a principle of solidarity between the different agricultural regions because of the social and environmental functions carried out through agriculture.

The last proposal of Fischer Boel to cut the price by 36% was totally unacceptable to a country like ours, which for some time now has not produced enough sugar to meet internal demand. Here the principles of the countries that are economically and politically strong set against the Community norms that for a long time have been based on the principle of solidarity, for our country it’s been a Caporetto {a complete disastrous collapse} and the Government is responsible for this in a series of ways. This is a Government that is more and more isolated in Europe and in the world and that instead claims without any shame, that the loss of 50% of the quotas, and the closure of 13 out of the 19 factories is a victory for Italian mediation.

This is a reform opposed by many but not by everyone, and that has nothing to do with helping poor starving countries that are starving because of the egotism of rich countries:

- against this reform food-agriculture Italian Trades Unions have spoken out, with repeated strikes, and noting that Trades Unions do not defend the egotism of the rich.

- against this reform small and medium sized beet producers all over Europe have spoken out, countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific who have privileged relations with the EU and who are penalised by this reform,

- The EBA countries (the 50 poorest countries in the world)  are against this reform. They reject it totally.

- this reform is totally rejected by the social movements of Brazil, India and Australia, since the big corporations will find it ever more economical to produce sugar for export using the monoculture of sugar cane with serious social and  environmental impact without regard to productive diversification and food sovereignty.

- The European Parliament has completely rejected this reform thus claiming a role that has not been used by the Commission. They have put forward intelligent proposals like the abolition by the year 2010 of export subsidies and a reduction of the price of sugar by 30% in 4 years.

Those who have said they agree with the reform have been the strong agricultural Governments of the South and the North of the world, like Brazil, France, Germany, Australia, and India and the big companies of the North who receive 730 Euro for every ton not produced and the multinationals that have delocalised to the South from where they can export more of their production.

In Italy the further cut by 10% suggested by the European Commission and the carry back of the excess of past years, the new beet campaign will have difficulty in getting more than 30% production over the previous campaign leading to further confusion even in relation to inter-professional agreements.”

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 12:10 AM in Economics | Comments (3)
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March 01, 2006

Bitter sugar

casei gerola.jpg
cultivation at Casei Gerola

I'm publishing part of a letter from Laura, chosen from lots that I received about the closure of the historical sugar factory of Casei Gerola near Pavia.
Another disaster resulting from European policy giving incentives to transport as opposed to helping local production.
Factories are being closed without giving prior notice to the local people, in this case the inhabitants of the Province of Pavia.
Without asking for the consent and proposing alternative solutions.
Here there are thousands of families without work and the reasons are technical, bureaucratic, correct, Europe-oriented, but above all they are incomprehensible. The Val di Susa has taught us that we can’t take decisions without involving people, without listening to them.
Last year, this Blog made a small contribution to the campaign for the brewery (great beer!) at Pedaveno and it did not close.
Let’s see what we can do for the sugar factory of Casei Gerola, one of the best in the country.
Write to me at info@beppegrillo.it and  send me information.
In the next few days I’ll go and visit Casei Gerola.

Greetings,

My name is Laura. I’m 20 years old and I live in Voghera (province of Pavia). I’d like to ask you if you could take an interest in the closure of the sugar factories in Italy and in particular I would like to point out the absurdity of the entrepreneurial logic. In my zone there’s (or in fact there was) the sugar factory at Casei Gerola. You must have heard about it recently because the farmers and the employees blocked the Milano-Genova motorway for about 30 hours. It’s one of the most productive sugar factories in Italy, the most technologically advanced and it supplies important multinationals, as well as pharmaceutical companies requiring high quality sugar. It appears to have everything needed to stay open and yet no. After yet another big story from the Minister Alemanno, it’s closing down. The European Union gives 730 Euro for every ton of sugar not produced, so that it’s economic to close a factory with good productivity and keep others open even though they are in grave difficulty and will then close the following year!!

There are 103 employees, cooperatives that collaborate, 192 seasonal employees (I’m one of these and at least 100 are young people in the age range 18 to 24 who work the season so that they can pay for the university without having to ask their families for help), 5000 farmers, encouraged by the company to invest and who now find that they have to pay for machinery up to a value of 1,000,000,000 old lire. They bought this on credit and the debt should have gone down each time they delivered beetroot for processing. It’s the only processing plant for beetroot in Piedmont and Lombardy and thus by closing down it will see the collapse of a whole geographic area! Do you think this is fair? I don’t think so. Is this how the Government is thinking of creating new jobs? Firing people, laying off and removing prospects from the young? How can a young person think of carrying on the work of their parents cultivating the land if their prospects are like this?

Thank you for your attention.”
Laura B.

P.S. The cities of the tour that used to appear on the right hand bar have now been substituted by links to the Meet Up cities.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 02:22 AM in Economics | Comments (5)
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February 25, 2006

The Industrialist

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The book of 2006 is surely "L'industriale", (The Industrialist), in which the image of one of the greatest managers that our country has ever had is described with a great sense of objectivity and judgement. In the blurb, Tronchetti Provera is said to be: "an entrepreneur capable of restructuring and giving new life to companies in difficulty" and “research, innovation and social responsibility have found space in his activity".
If I've really got to do some nit picking in this book I'd start with the title, that little word: Industrialist.

I've always thought that an industrialist was a man with lots of capital, an investor. One who risks what he owns. Someone like Adriano Olivetti or Arnoldo Mondadori.

But the president of Telecom Italia, “the Industrialist”, how much of this company in constant decline does he own? It has a debt equal to the GDP  of many countries and its share value has lost almost half its value since 2001. Have a little think before reading the answer: how much of Telecom is owned by this unhappy Tronchetti {play on words here brings the image of a happy plant that is not happy}? 
Have you had a think? Well, it’s less than that!

It’s slightly more than 0.8%.

In fact, keep following my argument, and I know it’s difficult for those who are still sane:
- Marco Tronchetti Provera & C a.p.a owns 61.48% of Gruppo Partecipazioni Industriali (GPI)
- GPI owns 50.18% of Camfin
- Camfin owns 25.36% of Pirelli
- Pirelli owns 57.7% of Olimpia
- Olimpia owns 18% of Telecom Italia

With less than one per cent, “the industrialist” governs one of the biggest Italian Groups.
The same Group that has been fined 115 Million Euro for the abuse of its dominant  position in the telephony sector.
An industrialist without money, without results.

Dear shareholders, substitute him!

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 01:36 PM in Economics | Comments (3)
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February 20, 2006

Modern Slaves

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"The Biagi Law has produced extraordinary results, but like everything else things could be better and it can be perfected." Silvio Berlusconi.

"We can see that the law is effective above all for the protection of the weakest, in particular for the employment of women." Roberto Maroni.

"The Biagi Law is helping to establish permanent employment.”  Maurizio Sacconi, Welfare Undersecretary.

“ If in Italy we have a ‘the lowest percentage level of unemployment’ due to ‘courageous reforms’ put in place by the Government in respect of employment and ‘in particular the one named after the martyr Biagi…’ the alternative is not between a contract for an indefinite time and flexibility but between flexibilities’ which still have to be stabilised, and ‘precariousness’ ”. Gianfranco Fini.

To summarise, they all agree: the Biagi law = protection of the weak, permanent jobs, flexibility and extraordinary results.

That’s as may be, but I feel that this law is a step backwards from slavery. In 1850 the cost of a slave in America was 1,000 dollars, equivalent to 38,000 dollars at today’s prices. That’s an investment worth protecting. The slave had to be instructed in the work he had to do. Over time his health had to be looked after.

The Biagi Law,  Co.Co.Co. and Co.Co.Pro have brought insecurity and starvation-level salaries. It was better to be a slave in the deep south. At least they could have a family. The slogan “All work, work less” has almost been achieved. Italy has been transformed into a nation of precarious workers, of under-employed and of unemployed.  Of university people answering the telephone in call centres at 5 Euro per hour.

The fairy tales of the casa circondariale della libertà (play with words between prison and “Casa della libertà”) about employment deserve a reply.

I invite all those who are victims of the Biagi law to tell their story and send it as a comment to this Post.

I’ll print them out and put them into a single volume that I’ll send to all the Party Secretaries.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:28 PM in Economics | Comments (34)
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February 08, 2006

Savings Betrayed

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Saving is sacred!

We saved to be saved, but the banks don’t save anything or anyone.

Is it worth saving in Italy? It’s a struggle to put something aside and straight away an army of money-eaters jump on it.

The situation is really nasty. Most savers are in the hands of the management of savings.

This is an enormous machine constructed and brought to perfection by the banks with the blessing of Antonio Fazio.

The numbers speak clearly. Giving one’s money to someone else to manage means losing out. This is confirmed by the data for 2005, with the trust funds which gave a return of 1.7% less than the Buoni Poliennali del Tesoro (BTP, Treasury Bonds) and the funds based on shares with 5.6% less than the shares of Italian companies quoted on the Stock Exchange.

Unfortunately it’s been like that for 20 years. Even without Bertinotti, the Italians are already paying their inheritance. But instead of the State, the ones getting the money are the banks, the funding managers, and the investments sales people.

This is all true and the seriousness of the damage caused is documented by the Department of Mathematics at the University of Turin.

Even the research section of Mediobanca has been saying for years that the common funds regularly give a lower return than the BOT (Government Bonds)

So there’s no reason to hang around
. Every moment is good to save what can be salvaged by removing money from funds and managed savings. Every moment is good to throw off a mass of bloodsuckers.

To be on the safe side there are indexed State bonds (Italian BTPI or French Oatei) that the banks hope you won’t notice. Click here for more information about these and about other solutions.

Even Post Office Bonds with profits are not to be thrown away. They aren’t going to send the shivers of financial wizardry down your spine, but they do guarantee that you’ll get back your initial investment. However the other post office products are to be avoided – the ones that are copying the bank products.

There you go, free financial consultancy from a man from Genoa. What more could you want?

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 01:00 PM in Economics | Comments (11)
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January 30, 2006

PalaSanVittore

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photo: The prison of San Vittore



Divo Gronchi, General Director of Banca Popolare Italiana, has stated (finally) that there will be a big change in direction in comparison to the activities under the leadership of Fiorani.

He did this last Saturday when he announced a new well-endowed Board of Directors with 16 members, of whom 2 are continuing from the recent glorious past of the Bank.

In fact, two new members, Guido Duccio Castellotti e Giorgio Olmo were Directors at the time of Fiorani’s lead.

I remind readers that Directors on the Board apart from gaining a bit of money, have the job of being vigilant about the company and they have responsibilities similar to those of the head of the company. Now Fiorani has been in prison for nearly 50 days and these ex-companions of adventure are re-elected?

But where are consobbancaditaliaborsaitalianaabi? (bodies that control and check activities) And what is the use of these institutions if they don’t guarantee the rules of the game and support the investors?

A word of advice to those who own shares in BPI: sell them as soon as possible unless they change these 2 Directors.
The election of the new members (including Castellotti) took place in Lodi at PalaCastellotti. At this rate the next will take place at PalaSanVittore (the prison).

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 08:12 PM in Economics | Comments (3)
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January 28, 2006

Enchantments

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Today’s dictators have power by getting control of information and the Internet. Weapons have become useless.

If the citizens were to know the truth some regimes wouldn’t last 5 minutes.

They get control by making economic agreements with American technology companies like Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft.

These agreements give the dictators control over the population and allow the companies to make money and to conquer markets.
These companies are quoted on the Stock Exchange in the United States. They respond to the written laws controlling the economy and to the unwritten laws concerning the ethics and morality of a democratic State. Laws however that are valid only at home.
Outside perhaps.

It depends on how much they pay.

In China, for example, they pay well!

And it’s possible to sell technology and repression whilst pocketing big dividends.

Like Google that has accepted to eliminate references to the independence of Taiwan, to Tienanmen and to the Falun Gong movement.
Like the witch in the story of Snow White, these technology companies look at themselves in the mirror of their pure white company dominated by capital and they see themselves to be beautiful, superbly beautiful.

Like their enchanted publicity.

They sell red shiny apples outside their castle.

Poisoned red apples, from true exporters of democracy.

Even better than with arms in Iraq.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:45 PM in Economics | Comments (7)
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January 19, 2006

Metal workers: waiting for 10 euro in convenient instalments

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The contract for the terms and conditions for workers in metal industries has not made progress for a year.
Ever since I was a child it's been stalled! It's one of the mysteries of the universe.

The metal workers' negotiations have stalled because the Unions are asking for an increase of 100 euro and the employers in the Federmeccanica are only willing to go up to 94.5 euro.

The metal workers’ negotiations have stalled because the Unions want an allowance of 25 euro for the workers without Union-controlled contracts and therefore with low wages and the employers in the Federmeccanica have offered an allowance of 10 euro in convenient yearly instalments.

For a year, 1,624,600 people having been asking for a ridiculously small increase.
Negotiations are dragging on for a difference of 5.50 euro.
In response to an allowance of 25 euro for those who have a subsistence wage the response is 10 euro in convenient yearly instalments.

The metal workers are one of the few categories of people who work in Italy. They see examples of enrichment using laws of the State and even changing those that don’t allow this.
The metalworkers are one of the few categories of people who pull in their belts and produce real things, things that are solid, that you can touch, not the nothing-industry of the financepublicitymedia.

The metal workers are angry as they’ve had enough, so yesterday they blocked trains and motorways throughout Italy.

No! This should not be happening.

I propose an alternative: let’s set up an Authority that evaluates the earnings of the financiers, of the capitalists-without-capital, of the managers, over the last few years.
If their companies have developed and have been the source of employment, then their earnings will be confirmed.
If not, there’ll be a tiny expropriation of their earnings to renew this contract and for future contracts.
It would be enough to have Tronchetti in tiny yearly slices of instalments.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 01:50 AM in Economics | Comments (5)
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January 16, 2006

Milk on Tap

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In Roncadella, at the entrance to Reggio Emilia, we had the inauguration of a new agricultural company in October. This offers the first automatic distribution in Emilia Romagna of freshly expressed milk.

The milk is produced from cows fed on non-GM food.
The price of the fresh milk is 1 euro per litre (30 cents less than the supermarket price for a similar product)
Turn up with your glass bottle fill up and off you go!
You can also fill up with quantities valued 25 cents and 50 cents.
After 24 hours, the milk remaining undistributed is used to make ricotta and other cheeses.

It’s a shame that the law in Emilia Romagna allows for these distributors only in the agricultural sites and not, as requested by the Coldiretti {association of agricultural producers} even in supermarkets, schools, and canteens as happens in Lombardy and countries of Northern Europe.

The length of time the milk can be kept is 2 days if you keep it in the fridge and after that if you boil it, another 2 days.

It’s a great idea: there’s no waste packaging as glass bottles are used and prices are lowered.

Fresh milk on tap, from cows reared near home, cows fed on non-GM, fewer lorries travelling from one part of Italy to another.

Let’s start with simple things, revolutions happen even like that, with new Regional Laws to have fresh wholesome milk, and at low cost.

I’d start with the Liguria Region, that way I can save a bit straight away.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:37 PM in Economics | Comments (9)
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December 28, 2005

Company cuckoos

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We're one step ahead of the Banco di Bilbao: let's buy BNL shares and then sell them, making a killing.
Why should we leave company bosses the possibility to do insider trading? Let's do it too.
Let's get the money by asking for a bank loan at the same rate of interest granted to politicians and finance boffins of the Banca Popolare Italiana.
Operations made legitimate by the Banca d'Italia {Bank of Italy} and therefore applicable to all current account holders.

By buying company shares, even just one, we can participate in shareholders meetings, ask questions, make a record of the responses and use the Internet to make them known.

Well then, why don’t we get this satisfaction, starting with Telecom Italia and at the next shareholders meeting treat as employees these capitalists without capital, who use the companies that pay them as though they belong to them.

They don’t belong to them!
Parmalat did not belong to Tanzi.
BPI did not belong to Fiorani
Telecom Italia does not belong to Tronchetti.
Unipol does not belong to Consorte.
Capitalia does not belong to Geronzi.
Companies belong to the shareholders. They have the objective of improving the quality of service, of increasing their value in the market.

The Directors must do this and nothing else.

Their personal image is of no interest.
Let them do more work and give fewer interviews.
We’re interested in the results. If the results are not good they should be sent home.

At the forthcoming shareholders meetings, let’s make our voices heard, starting from Telecom’s meeting.
 

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 01:44 AM in Economics | Comments (1)
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December 18, 2005

Fazio and the Impotents

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First Berlusconi then Buttiglione have declared themselves without the power to force Fazio to resign.
We have a Government of impotents, but I hadn't expected them to come out and tell us this.

But we, their employers, we can do something.

The Bank of Italy is private, owned by private shareholders, it's not owned by the State.

The main shareholders are: Gruppo Intesa (26,81%), Gruppo San Paolo IMI (17,44%), Gruppo Capitalia (11,15%), Gruppo Unicredito Italiano (10,97%), Gruppo Assicurazioni Generali (6,33%), Banca Carige (3,96%), BNL (2,83%), Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (2,50%), Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze (1,85%).

Let’s close our current accounts or terminate our insurance policies if the people responsible for these companies: Profumo, Geronzi, Modiano, Passera and the others don’t make public announcements straight away for the resignation of Fazio.

Next Tuesday the highest Council of the Bank of Italy will meet and it has powers to nominate and revoke the position of Governor. This body already met after the scandal regarding the intercept of telephone calls between Fazio and Fiorani and it didn’t lift a finger.

On Tuesday it can declare “no confidence” in Fazio. If it fails to do this I believe that its members (listed below) should respond to the Country.

List:

- Blasi Paolo, physics teacher, Florence
- De Feo Paolo, Ipm Group, Naples
- De Ferra Giampaolo, lawyer, Trieste
- Ferreri Paolo, lawyer, Turin
- Laterza Paolo, publisher, Bari
- Marsano Rinaldo, entrepreneur, Genoa
- Mirabelli Cesare, emieritus president of the Constitutional Court, Rome
- Montanari Giovanni, ship owner, Ancona
- Musu Ignazio, teacher of economics and politics, Venice
- Pirri Gavino, tax consultant, Cagliari,
- Possati Stefano, president of Marposs, Bologna
- Scavone Nicolò, engineer, Palermo
- Zucchi Giordano, textile industrialist, Milan

Who nominates these members? Based on what criteria? It seems like a list of Arts and Trades!

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 01:30 AM in Economics | Comments (6)
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December 13, 2005

News of Judicial Proceedings

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I open today's copy of the financial newspaper MF. I scan the headlines.


On page 1:
"Ricucci, offer to the PM {the magistrate}"
"Fazio has damaged Italian Banks"


On page 2:
"Brussels is now free to bring infraction proceedings against Italy for the norms regarding restrictions to the freedom on the movement of capital.”


On page 6:
“The Antitrust fines ANIA


On page 9:
Cirio, in the courtroom the crack of 1 thousand million, 25 requests for sending people for trial.”


On page 14:
Parmalat, Consob considering taking action against  Deloitte & Touche


On page 16:
Tango-bondists marching on Rome”


On page 18:
"Ricucci offers plusvalence to the PM”


On page 19:
“ Bellavista and Caltagirone under investigation for takeover bids”


On page 20:
Exposed for stock-jobbing and market abuse. Today Consorte in Bankitalia talks about OK times”


I thought I was going to be reading about finance and instead I found that I was reading a list of judicial proceedings.


There was, however, a consolation page with the “MF Company Awards” to the top people of finance and the economy: Luca Cordero, Vittorio Mincato, Paolo Scaroni, Marco Tronchetti Provera and Andrea Guerra, who haven’t yet allowed themselves to be caught.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 11:12 PM in Economics | Comments (5)
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December 12, 2005

The Unipol Skeletons

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Unipol is in a storm. Its top directors are being investigated for stock-jobbing with Giampiero Fiorani. The plan to take possession of the BNL {Banca Nazionale del Lavoro National Worker's Bank} is at risk of collapsing, even though it has the blessing of Antonio Fazio, or perhaps this is why it might collapse.

And yet you should have been able to see for some time that there was something not working properly with the insurance company of the “red” co-operatives {Unipol}. It’s just that nearly all the Italian Press was taken by surprise by this happening that in fact has incredible elements.

It’s a real “submarine” affair.

In fact in 2002, Unipol had a cash balance of 408 thousand million lire collected form two bonds with very low interest rates, most of which were at 2.25% per annum.

Why did it decide to pay these back in advance three years before the due date? It would have been enough to buy Government Bonds, then at 4.65%, to gain 27 thousand Million lire in three years, net. Why did the directors of Unipol give a kick to all that money?

Someone, thanks to a word in their ear, had purchased many of those bonds at 93 shortly before they were reimbursed at 100.

But this is called insider trading and is a crime.

Obviously it will be up to the Magistratura {body of Magistrates} to decide whether the real guilty ones are Emilio Gnutti, Giovanni Consorte or others. The unsettling fact is the reimbursement of those bonds itself, causing damage to the Unipol members.

It’s like if the director of a bank were to take from the safe wads of bank notes and throw them out of the window. Certainly, it’s worse if, just in that moment, a friend of his is passing by underneath. Anyway it’s not good to throw away money belonging to other people.

Now Unipol has asked for  - and obtained from its members, 2.59 thousand Million Euro to make a bid for BNL. If this much gives you so much, we might fear that it will also throw away this money.

The skeletons in the cupboard are looking really promising.
Data and precise details are available at the following  web address: http://www.dm.unito.it/personalpages/scienza/unipol.htm

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:43 PM in Economics | Comments (0)
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November 27, 2005

No to the law in favour of the mafia!

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I'm dedicating this Sunday's post to Don Ciotti, one of those true priests who stay in the midst of the people and to his appeal to save the law regarding property confiscated from the mafia.

"In 1995, "Libera" collected a million signatures to push Parliament to approve the reform of the Rognoni - La Torre law
which introduced the possibility of assigning property confiscated from the mafia for social use. Before the law 109/96 {the 109th law passed in 1996} the number of buildings “recovered” could be numbered on a few hands. Today, of the 6,500 properties confiscated 2,500 have been made available for social use. In Sicily many co-operatives have been created and others are about to be formed in other regions. In these first ten years we have been very aware of the fact that the confiscation of property and the transfer to social use is certainly a problem that relates to politics, it is certainly a big social issue, with a relevant cultural dimension, but it is also a problem that involves issues of ethics and education. To return to the community that which has been the result of violence, of illegality, of trafficking, of exploitation, and of death, is fundamental.

Today Parliament risks approving a law that would make the results obtained useless. Among the many doubtful aspects there may be the possibility of revision “without time limits” and at the request of any person. With an “interest that is judicially recognised”, after final confiscation. Who would cope with managing  - whether it is a local authority, a co-operative or an association – a property in this precarious state, after having spent public resources to restructure it? It is a gift to the mafia and to the mafia-folk.

Another doubtful choice, present in the new draft law, arises from assigning to the Agenzia del Demanio {State property management Agency} the management of the properties from the sequestration to confiscation. It seems a further paradox: in the past it has actually been this agency, because of serious failings in its internal organisation, that has put the brakes on the whole process.

Parliament can correct the route being taken if it takes on board certain propositions.

The first proposition is that of cancelling the possibility of revision of the confiscation and on the part of “anyone”, making allowances for the reversal by an equal compensation in the case that there are victims of judicial errors.

The second is the setting up of an ad hoc Agency so that all the competences and the professional abilities that have been developed in the last few years can flow into it, whereas today they are dispersed in tiny trickles.

Lastly, we need to give value to the role of the citizens and the associations in promoting legality and in standing up against the mafia. It’s true that we appear to be continually appealing to the “civil society” and to the associations, to the young people, but in reality we are cancelling out their potential contribution, in terms of the push, the accompanying, the verification, the control and the true participation.

It is for these reasons that the association Libera (which brings together more than 1200 national and local associations, schools, and co-operatives) and many families of victims of mafia activity are asking through an appeal for a serious and profound rethink, during a parliamentary debate, of the draft law AC 5362, and above all in relation to the possibility to revise the final confiscation measures, so that all the political forces know how to find the correct equilibrium between the protection of the rights of who is subject to the confiscation and the necessity to remove from the mafia organisations the immense patrimony which is being accumulated each year, bathed in illegality and in blood. By transforming these properties, as is happening with great effort today, we are giving tangible signs of legality and justice.”

Don Ciotti.


Support the appeal by email: libera@libera.it or by fax: 06/6783559

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:54 PM in Economics | Comments (2)
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November 21, 2005

A future as European Unemployed

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photo: me and Joseph Stiglitz

The head of the Central European Bank, Jean Claude Trichet has declared that the Bank “is ready to start removing the stimulus to the economy” and thus to increase interest rates from December.

That the European Bank has been stimulating the economy, very few people have been aware, especially in Italy, but that now it is proposed to remove this stimulus to the economy seems to me like a banker’s gag.
Shouldn’t his task be exactly the opposite? If interest rates rise, the cost of money rises, as do the possibility to invest, the capacity to pay mortgages and loans at variable rates and also unemployment.

However this is not the opinion of Trichet who considers the operation to be “preventative” to fight inflation if this were going to increase, and that in fact it will give a boost to employment.

It’s a shame that this has never happened.

Yesterday at lunch, this was set out clearly for me by Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel prize-winner for the Economy, adviser to Clinton and author of a book that I advise you to read: “The Roaring Nineties”. I uselessly tried to explain to him why Fazio is Governor of the Bank of Italy.

“Restrained inflation corresponds to a rate of unemployment near 10%.
Why is the Central European Bank increasing interest rates?
It has never been demonstrated that this action has a positive impact on inflation. The increase in the rate of interest will mean that people buy more Euros, so they will increase in value, but exports will go down. I think that the Central Bank is trying to counter inflation with the wrong tools. The effect will be an increase in unemployment.”

The rate increase will surely counterbalance the deficit in some countries and Italy is a champion in getting the deficit out of a hole.
Thus I advise the Central Bank to get rid of Fazio instead of increasing interest rates. If this doesn’t happen, how many unemployed people will say thanks to Fazio?

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 07:50 PM in Economics | Comments (4)
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November 17, 2005

The Independent Director has laid an egg

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Autostrade, Enel, Eni, Mediaset e Telecom  have been defined as monopolies by Romano Prodi who added: the only companies that make money, all companies that are based on tariffs” and “ the controlling authorities leave space that can only be dreamed of in the rest of Europe.”

Prodi has said things that are obvious, stuff that even children know.

Those who feel criticised could respond with a dignified silence.

But as always, the first hen to sing has laid the egg (as we say in Italy to say he who speaks first is usually the one who did it).

And to whom can we associate today’s egg?

To the 11 independent directors of Telecom:

Enzo Grilli, Pasquale Pistorio, Jean Paul Fitoussi, Guido Ferrarini, Francesco Denozza, Luigi Roth, Marco Onado, Luigi Fausti, Domenico De Sole, Robet Boas, Paolo Baratta.

After a day and a half of consultations, they have published a weighty response to Prodi that appeared in Il Corriere della Sera on Tuesday as a full page.

But if they are independent, are the other directors dependents (employees)? And on whom do they depend? And how can it be said that these 11 are independent? Don’t they have to be at least pleasing to Tronchetti? And who elects the independent directors? And how much do they earn? And what do they really do?

And then, shouldn’t a director, by the nature of the role, always be independent and doing only what is good for the company and for the shareholders?

Telecom is advised by you independents and reaches 42,000,000,000 Euro of debts with the shares yesterday loosing 24.7% from the beginning of the year.

Wouldn’t it be better if it took advice from someone else?



PS: I don’t want to comment on an article that came out yesterday in Il Tempo and signed with a pseudonym.  However I would like to point out that the financing that bears no interest is for 461,000 Euro and not 461,000,000 Euro as reported in the text by a “typo

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:00 PM in Economics | Comments (0)
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November 11, 2005

Football and Bills of Exchange

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Photo: 1800 Florentine Bill of Exchange

Inter-Milan is owned by Moratti and Tronchetti and Tronchetti is everywhere in the newspapers explaining that Broadband is the future of Italy when it’s already present in other countries, and he’s also in the Universities to infect the students with his words.
Well Inter Milan has had a flash of genius.

It has launched a “high-tech finance operation”.
Let’s look at the facts.

Inter-Milan closed its accounts in the red by 118 million Euro. I imagine Moratti, Tronchetti, Buora and Facchetti closed in a room asking themselves: “and now what do we do?”

It’s easy, with a bit of financial creativity:

• You sell the black and blue logo of Inter-Milan to a Bank (Banca Italease) and lease it back.
• In exchange Italease gives 160 million Euro to Inter-Milan
• Inter-Milan agrees to buy back the logo by paying for it in 10 comfortable payments as well as the commission. It pays the 20% straight away to Italease, equal to 32 million.
• 160 million income, 32 million Euro in expenditure and the red of last year has disappeared.

Well done Moratti, Tronchetti. You have opened the way to a new Italian miracle based on Bills of Exchange.

I’m publishing this letter sent to me by Massimo Moratti. I thank him for it.

“Dear Beppe,

In your Blog dated 11/11/05 I found an item regarding myself, Tronchetti and Inter in general, in relation to a leasing operation with the Italease Bank. Please allow me to reply personally to confirm that we have looked into this possibility with the Bank that you mentioned, but that we haven’t arrived at any conclusion. As concerns the losses on last year’s balance sheet, they have already been sorted out by myself and by the other shareholders, as have potential losses of the early months of the current year. The study to give patrimonial value to Inter’s logo is still going on, and I still consider this to be a good opportunity for the company. Thus, unfortunately, the financial miracle that you alluded to has not happened and cannot happen.
Cheers. Thanks”

Massimo Moratti

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:20 PM in Economics | Comments (5)
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November 09, 2005

"Italiani, brava gente"

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Photo: http://chinaherald.net

In China, according to the CBC and the Chinadaily, not only do we export capital and showcase industries, we also export thugs for beating people up.

The Chinese employees of the Italian company DeCoro (manufacturer of sofas exported mainly to America) demonstrated in the street at Shenzhen on Wednesday 2 November against the repeated beatings suffered by a range of workers on various occasions, handed out by foreign supervisors and the reduction of their wages.
Police wearing riot gear dispersed the demonstrators.

A record.

We are the only ones in the world who beat up the Chinese because they work too little. After years of making Italians workers become black, the companies are now making the Chinese become black.

But in Africa what will they do?
There you can’t make a black become black.

We’ll find ourselves exporting even the triple trade union to China.

Source:
http://www.china-labour.org.hk/public/contents/news?revision%5fid=18724&item%5fid=18718
http://www.china-labour.org.hk/public/contents/news?revision%5fid=18798&item%5fid=18796

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 07:19 PM in Economics | Comments (13)
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October 19, 2005

Parmalat: from Princes (as Bond-holders) to Frogs (as Share-holders)

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As from 6 October, the Bond-holders of Parmalat are no longer Bond-holders. Thus a bitter affair has reached the moment of being squeezed by a boa constrictor. It is only partly similar to the situation of the company Argentina. In fact in that case, the investors could accept an exchange and receive other bonds.
But in the case of Parmalat, the bond-holders have had no option but to become share-holders.

Today we see that the new Parmalat shares are quoted at around 2.6-2.7 euro.

This means that those who held the three types of bond quoted in Italy recover a measly 15%, while most of the investments on the so-called Euromarket can bring home about 33% of the nominal value; on top, they receive some warrants, which for many are little more than a wink.

But beware: even those who never wanted to risk investing in shares, now find that they have them in their hands. It’s a radical difference that obliges a rethink. For the former Parmalat bond-holders, a new story has started.

If they don’t want to hold shares as a matter of principle, it’s logical that they will sell the Parmalat shares that they have already received or will shortly receive. And it’s absolutely unforecastable whether it’s better to do that now, in a month or in a year. If however, they prefer to have a few shares in their portfolio, they can even hang on to the Parmalat shares. But these are choices that are independent of having been in the past a bond-holder of this infamous company of Collecchio. Bonds and shares are anyway, two very different beasts.

For those who want a deeper understanding of the question, there is an Internet page at the University of Turin: http://www.dm.unito.it/personalpages/scienza/parmalat.htm

There’s also an Excel file that can be downloaded and used to see the correct number of shares to be allocated for the Parmalat bonds held: http://www.dm.unito.it/personalpages/scienza/documenti/Parmalat-az-da-ob.xls

PS: Yesterday evening on the radio programme Zapping, one of our citizens, who follows this blog, correctly defined Berlusconi as our employee. The employee Forbice who was presenting the programme, had difficulty with this definition. Strange, in the end his employer who pays him his salary at the RAI, said the right word: employee!

Please can you all say it too, the appropriate word for the RAI and for the various media: employee.
Words can change the world.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:25 PM in Economics | Comments (6)
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October 16, 2005

The Italian mortgage journey

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Alitalia is negotiating a mortgage of 485,000,000 Euro on its aircraft with an American finance institution.

Do you remember last year’s re-launch plan?

The plan that had the active participation of Minister Maroni together with the taxes of the citizens that was going to keep the company alive?

Well, it can’t have been much use, but they should give us back our money.

Nowhere is it written that we have to pay taxes for Alitalia debts.

However the mortgage is not enough, it’s also necessary to have an addition of capital of 1,200,000,000 Euro supplied by Banca Intesa (do the current account holders know?) and by Deutsche Bank.

However, let’s not complain too much, the creative finance of this government has produced an avant-garde initiative: the mortgage.

We can mortgage houses, monuments, Ministries, blue cars,{official cars} all the property of the state, the Coliseum, the Duomo of Milan, the Tower of Pisa, the beaches, the major roads, the police stations of the Carabinierei, the tribunals.

We will get rich without have to deny ourselves anything.

But what is our most precious possession? That which the government increases day by day according to the word given to its electors?

The public debt!

Very few have a debt like ours. Do we want to leave it there and not take advantage of it? Let’s mortgage it. Let’s imagine that they give us only 20/30% (and that’s not much) and let’s restore Italy back to health.

If, then, the investors were too diffident and didn’t want to provide a mortgage, the government could hand over the credit to the public debt to some international criminal organisation that could in the future take advantage of the citizens of Italy, at its convenience.

However, considering that I’m just a comedian, I’ve got this doubt: if to save Alitalia it’s necessary to mortgage its whole fleet and if we cut by 40% the contribution for artists, where do they find the 3,880,000,000 Euro for the Messina Bridge?

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:10 PM in Economics | Comments (7)
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October 07, 2005

The owners of the Bank of Italy

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The Bank of Italy is a società per azioni (SpA) {joint-stock company} even though it has a special constitution in relation to its rights and the way its shareholders can participate. The shares are held by a selection of Banks and a smaller portion are held by insurance companies and by Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale (INPS) {State pensions body}

The Research Office of Mediobanca has identified 90,17% of the ownership of the Bank of Italy.

Note that just three Banks have more than 50% of the shares between them and therefore can “control” the Bank. These are Intesa, San Paolo IMI and Capitalia. But if they control the Bank of Italy, how does the Bank of Italy manage to control them?

At this point, since we have no Government and opposition, let’s turn to the shareholders to ask Fazio to step down.

I suggest that anyone with a current account with one of these Banks sends an email requesting that Fazio resign.

Main Shreholders of the Bank of Italy (90.17%)

Gruppo Intesa (26,81%)
Gruppo San Paolo IMI (17,44%)
Gruppo Capitalia (11,15%)
Gruppo Unicredito Italiano (10,97%)
Gruppo Assicurazioni Generali (6,33%)
INPS (5%)
Banca Carige (3,96%)
Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (2,83%)
Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (2,50%)
Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze (1,85%)
RAS-Riunione Adriatica di Sicurtà (1,33%)

Source: R & S (Ricerche & Studi) di Mediobanca, 2004, p. 1160

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 01:04 PM in Economics | Comments (2)
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