Italy outgrows Berlusconi

The Italian right-wing has shown they are finally prepared to act independently of the three-times former prime minister.

While the US government shut down this week, there was another political farce in Europe. Last weekend, centre-right leader and three-times former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi ordered his ministers to quit the left-right coalition run by prime minister Enrico Letta, ostensibly over an increase in the consumption tax.

In truth, however, Berlusconi was attempting to pre-empt a vote to oust him from parliament after his conviction for tax fraud.

But early this week, after facing a rebellion from some of his ministers, he dropped his demand for snap elections, thus enabling the government to survive the vote of confidence he had triggered.

What the commentators said

He was always far more interested in his own career than Italy's political and economic progress, and it's largely his fault that Italy has gone from "top-tier industrial nation to a crisis-ridden, over-indebted country in desperate need of reforms", added Hans-Jurgen Schlamp on Spiegel.de.

This time Berlusconi planned to topple the government and, assuming a subsequent election victory, pass laws to avoid expulsion from parliament. "He doesn't want to retire."

Still, his U-turn this week following dissent from his colleagues is fuelling hope that "the Italian right is finally outgrowing" Berlusconi, as Charlemagne put it. The big picture hasn't changed much, however.

Italy's economy has barely grown in 20 years and the seven-month-old government has failed to enact the structural reforms that would raise the long-term growth rate "it was entangled in vetoes by the coalition parties", said the FT.

Galvanising growth, and thus starting to work off Italy's colossal debt pile of 120% of GDP, is what ultimately matters most, said Richard Barley in The Wall Street Journal. But the growth outlook is "nowhere near as exciting as Italian politics".

Recommended

Just how powerful is artificial intelligence becoming?
Tech stocks

Just how powerful is artificial intelligence becoming?

An uncannily human response from an artificial intelligence program sparked a minor panic last month. But just how powerful are machines getting – and…
2 Jul 2022
Car hire and the strangeness of the post-pandemic economy
UK Economy

Car hire and the strangeness of the post-pandemic economy

A global shortage of hire cars and unusually high hotel occupancy rates sum up the post-pandemic global economy in a nutshell, says Merryn Somerset We…
30 Jun 2022
Oil shortage starts to curb demand
Oil

Oil shortage starts to curb demand

The price of Brent crude oil is up by 475% since its March 2020 low. And when oil prices rise, people start to reduce consumption, leading to increas…
30 Jun 2022
Metals prices wobble on slowdown fears
Industrial metals

Metals prices wobble on slowdown fears

The S&P GSCI index of 24 major raw materials has fallen back 9% since mid-June on growing fears of a recession, and copper has hit a 16-month low aft…
30 Jun 2022

Most Popular

UK house prices are definitely cooling off – but are they heading for a fall?
House prices

UK house prices are definitely cooling off – but are they heading for a fall?

UK house prices hit a fresh high in June, but as interest rates start to rise, the market is cooling John Stepek assesses just how much of an effect h…
30 Jun 2022
How to invest in copper, the most important metal in the world
Industrial metals

How to invest in copper, the most important metal in the world

As the world looks to electrify and try to move away from fossil fuels, copper looks set to be the biggest beneficiary. But how can you invest? Rupert…
30 Jun 2022
Don’t try to time the bottom – start buying good companies now
Investment strategy

Don’t try to time the bottom – start buying good companies now

Markets are having a rough time, so you may be tempted to wait to try to call the bottom and pick up some bargains. But that would be a mistake, says …
1 Jul 2022