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Beppe Grillo’s Parliamentarians Threaten Nuremberg Trials for Corrupt Italian Politicians

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Yves here. While this account, that the presence of the Grillo faction, the Grillini, in the Italian Parliament, has led a politician charged with accepting a huge bribe from Berlusconi to cooperate with prosecutors, the cynic in me wonders about the timing. Berluconi is famously corrupt. He is also anti-austerity. So it is awfully convenient that the issue that pits Grillo against Berlusconi (and the rest of the Italian political establishment) would come to the fore, just as the technocrats are trying to put together a coalition. The one thing that Berlusconi and Grillo agree on is the need to change economic policy profoundly, and I wonder if this revelation is part of an effort to make sure they are pitted fiercely against each other.

Italians are encouraged to tell me whether I am reading too much into this incident.

By Wolf Richter, San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Cross posted from Testosterone Pit.

Former Italian senator Sergio De Gregorio confirmed over the weekend that he’d been bribed by Silvio Berlusconi in 2006. “The Cavaliere paid me,” he told La Stampa nonchalantly about the €3 million he’d received. “Of course I took the money, as I clarified to the prosecutors,” he said.

Utterly frustrated with this sort of daily display of corruption in their country, 8.7 million angry Italians from all walks of life voted for Beppe Grillo’s 5-Star movement. While 25.5% of the popular vote isn’t nearly enough to govern without being part of a coalition, which he has so far rejected, it’s enough to give the political establishment conniptions—and show that anger and frustration finally count.

“The existing political class must be expelled immediately,” he told the New York Times. Hence his refusal to form a coalition. He wants the political system to collapse. From it, he’d construct “something new,” something truly democratic. “We can change everything in the hands of respectable people,” he explained.

But wasn’t it reckless to try to destroy the system? “How can we be accused of destroying something that’s already destroyed?” he asked. “They’ve devoured the country, and now they can’t govern.” He called Berlusconi of the right-leaning PDL a “psycho dwarf” and Pier Luigi Bersani, the top honcho of the left-leaning Democratic Party, “a dead man walking.”

Italy’s political system would collapse, he told the German online magazine Focus. “I give the old parties six months, and then it’s over.” In the subsequent elections, the 5-Star movement could get enough votes to govern—and to clean house.

He also demanded the renegotiation of Italy’s debt. “We’re being crushed, not by the euro, but by our debt.” A government is like a corporation that goes bankrupt. Investors are simply “out of luck.” They took a risk and lost, he said, having earned a degree in accounting. And if the conditions aren’t changed, he added, Italy would leave the euro and return to the Lira.

Then he was talking with the tabloid Bild, the largest circulation paper in Germany—he’d become an equal opportunity mainstream-media darling. The Bild pushed him about Merkel’s demand that Italy continue on Prime Minister Mario Monti’s path of reforms and austerity. He brushed it off. What Monti had done wasn’t real austerity, he said. “Instead of taking something from the already privileged, particularly politicians, he helped himself to the savings of families who now, without this money, no longer know how they can go on.”

Himself “a convinced European,” he wants an online referendum on the euro. Though non-binding under Italian law, results would be difficult to ignore. “In one year, we won’t have enough money to pay pensions and wages of those who work in the public sector.” One year! During the Focus interview the day before, it was half a year. But hey. It’s the principle that counts.

He’d been lambasting the Italian political system and the established parties for years—and it has struck a chord with voters. As if to drive home the point, just after the election, Berlusconi’s corruption scandal bubbled to the surface with Sergio De Gregorio’s admission that “The Cavaliere paid me,” underlined by, “Of course I took the money.”

The Cavaliere allegedly funneled €3 million to De Gregorio in 2006 to get him to switch parties, which resulted in the collapse of the center-left coalition government under Prime Minister Romano Prodi. In the subsequent election, Berlusconi won. Last Thursday, it seeped out that prosecutors in Naples were investigating Berlusconi and others for corruption and illegal financing of political parties. Prodi called it “an assassination of democracy.”

Gregorio told La Stampa that he’d decided to cooperate with prosecutors when it became clear to him that the new members of parliament, the Grillini, as the media dubbed them, were demanding a sort of “Nuremberg for Politicians,” reminiscent of the Nuremberg Trials for the Nazis. “I didn’t want to go down in history as the senator who leaves the Palazzo Madama”—the palace in Rome where the Senate meets—“in handcuffs.”

De Gregorio isn’t exactly a paragon of innocence temporarily gone astray: he has been investigated in the past for money laundering and corruption. Suspicions are floating around that he is connected to the Mafia. But now he is afraid the new members of parliament might try to clean house.

The 5-Star movement doesn’t have much of a structure yet, and no experienced MPs—they, like their electorate, come from all walks of life and were picked during the primaries through internet voting. The movement might have trouble bringing down, as Grillo hopes, the political establishment that was designed to survive these kinds of democratic groundswells; it had been able to form governing coalitions before, even when election results were complicated. But alone the fact that the 5-Star movement gives De Gregorio and perhaps others visions of Nuremberg Trials for politicians is a glorious achievement.

“I’m appalled that two clowns have won,” said the man who’d try to knock Merkel off her perch later this year. He was referring to former comedian Grillo and former Prime Minister Berlusconi. One of them is “a professional clown who doesn’t mind being called that,” he explained; the other is “a clown with special testosterone boost.” Read…. The Fragility Of The Eurozone: Even Democracy Is A Threat.

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46 comments

  1. Random Lurker

    “The one thing that Berlusconi and Grillo agree on is the need to change economic policy profoundly”

    From an italian who didn’t vote for Grillo:

    1) Grillo cannot have any alliance with Berlusconi, ever: he mostly is an anti-corruption guy, alliance with Berlusca would undermine all of Grillo credibility.

    2) Berlusconi is NOT an “anti-austerity” guy, although it might seem so. Austerity is composed by two “pillars”: higer taxes and falling wages (due to high unemployment caused by reduced government spending and labor “flexibility” laws); this is a very important point in the italian contest, since Italy has lost “competitiveness”.
    Berlusconi doesn’t want high taxes, but he clearly calls for big spending cuts; Bersani (center left) doesn’t want spending cuts and thus calls for higer taxes; Monti was “serious” and thus wanted both.

    Note that, as long as Italy doesn’t want to challenge the EU (that might cause bakrupcy and/or exit from the euro) austerity is not really a choice. The big difference is that Grillo is not interested in playing “responsible”, so he can be less “austerian”, however him too is not that much keynesian: he recently said that Italy should “buy back” all debt owned by foreigners. How is this not austerity?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      He also said that companies go bankrupt and creditor get stuck with losses. I don’t think he has said anything that can yet be called a proposal as much as an idea. And if Italy is bankrupt, as the Germans claim it will be without their support, it should not be buying the debt back at par.

      And it does not need to impose austerity to buy it back. If Italy leaves the euro, it could monetize the debt in part.

      1. Synopticist

        Italian banks hold the most Italian debt. So reneging on their debts would destroy the banks.
        And if they print Lira to pay off their Euro debts, then the Lira goes into free-fall.

        Maybe that’s better than a decade of austerity, but it’s hardly a problem-free solution.

        1. Nathanael

          Monetize the debt, make the lira drop, boost exports. It’s a recipe which works for every country which has anything resembling an export industry.

    2. vtek

      I agree that berlusca is not anti-austerity but a pro-himself and pro-power opportunist. he saw a way to regain some relevancy by adopting an anti-austerity platform but he will shed it in a moment once the opportunity arises. my guess was that his running had everything to do with taking votes away from the five-star movement as many disenfranchised northerners who were anti-austerity were not comfortable voting for grillo.

      1. annie

        he also wants to regain his immunity from prosecution which being in the gov will bestow. this was his main reason for going into politics back when.

        1. Synopticist

          Indees. It’s all about staying out of Jail.
          Remember, this is a guy who got his slippery, highly well connceted English lawyer sent to prison instead of him (He was married to a British cabinet minister).

          That takes some doing.

  2. tom

    From a German perspective Italy has been an impossible country as long as anybody can remember. A byzantine bureaucrazy, a government change every year, crazy rules that need to be broken to get anything done and the need to network, network, network. Twenty years ago need a phone line pronto? Know the right guy and you get it. If not wait two years. Have you heard of the word dietrismo? It basically is untranslatable but means a reality behind the reality. Just watch an Italian politthriller and you will know what I mean.That is Italy.
    Amazingly enough though the country works. It has balanced trade with the world, a trade plus with GB and USA, a trade minus with Germany but not a big one. It has less private debt than Germany but higher government debt. It has a lot of world class companies and not only in the fashion sector.
    I believe everybody in Germany knows the above. It is often enough in the papers. So why all the fuzz about the government deficit? I believe it is mostly negotiating and scare tactic. The reasoning is that if we don´t put the Italians under pressure they will have an even worse deficit. And what will happen now? Will the ECB stop supporting Italian treasuries as there are no “reforms”?
    No way. And everybody knows it and nobody wants to say it out load. The German govrnment is deadly afraid of voters and the ECB wants to keep up appearances. In reality absolutely nothing will happen. Italy has been without an effective government for a long, long time. Another year or two in the balance won´t change anything. And probably for the good as Italy doesn´t need to save money anyhow. Main thing is don´t rock the boat until after the German elections. Then Schäuble will acknowledge reality.

    1. from Mexico

      From an Italian perspective Germany has been an impossible country as long as anybody can remember. A fanatical technocracy — headed up by Angela Merkel, former head of the Communist youth — has undertaken an unprecedented crusade to murder domestic labor, which in turn has dented internal demand. Twenty years ago Germany had the highest paid workers in the world. Now they rank sixth and much of the lead they had over workers in the perifery has been closed. Know the right guy (or gal) and you get the labor-bashing policy you want. If not wait two years. Have you heard of the word neoliberalism? It basically is untranslatable but means a reality behind the reality. Just watch Freidrich von Hayek as he proclaims: “My personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism.”

      Amazingly enough though the country works. The superfluous capital that Germany has extracted from the hide of its workers has been loaned to the European perifery. It has a trade surplus because it has squashed internal demand. It has more private debt than Italy but less government debt. But as with all good neoliberal regimes, as Steve Keen has pointed out, only public debt counts. Private debt doesn’t matter.

      http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2012/10/31/lets-go-back-to-the-future/

      I believe everybody in Italy knows the above. It is often enough in the papers. So why is there no fuzz from German labor? I believe it is mostly propaganda and scare tactic. The reasoning is that if German labor doesn’t take it on the chin, it will lose competitiveness and thus jobs. And what will happen now? Will the ECB stop supporting Italian treasuries as there are no “reforms”?

      No way. And everybody knows it and nobody wants to say it out load. The German government is bought and paid for by German rentiers and the ECB wants to keep up appearances. In reality absolutely nothing will happen. If the Italians were to default, all that superfluous capital that German rentiers took out of the hide of German workers and lent to Italy would become worthless. Germany has been without an honest democracy for a long, long time. Another year or two in the balance won´t change anything. And probably for the good because when Italy defaults on its debt, the whole neoliberal house of cards is going to come tumbling down and it will be hell to pay for Germany’s technocratic dictorship. Main thing is don´t rock the boat until after the German elections.

      1. Massinissa

        Mexico, Merkel may have been a former head of the Communist youth, but you don’t need to point that out every damn time. Its barely relevant.

        Otherwise, beautiful post. Hilarious how you turned that guys comment on his head.

        1. from Mexico

          It is a compensatory overreaction to the comments of jsmith and other like-minded souls.

          It is a reaction to the nonsensical notion that anybody who wraps themself in The Communist Manifesto or Das Kapital can do no wrong, or the equally nonsensical (and fundamentalist) notion that they and they alone can annoint the true and “correct” interpretation of Marx.

          The biblical literalists have nothing on the Marxist literalists.

          1. from Mexico

            And the best word to describe Merkel is probably not either neoliberal or communist, but opportunist.

          2. Massinissa

            I can agree with all of that, to be honest.

            Jsmith is a marxist? Didnt even realize.

          3. Synopticist

            He has a point about Italy’s byzantine structure and the need to network network network though. It’s difficult to get stuff done.
            Italy is 3rd or 4th from bottom in Europe on the list you often see of places where it’s easiest to do business. ( Greece is bottom, obviously).
            So things like getting licenses, internet connections, openning bank accounts, dealing with national and local bureaucracies, blah blah, that’s really complex in Italy. Most foreign firms have to employ special “fixers” to do it all. They wouldn’t need to do that in France or Spain, say.

          4. jsmith

            I had long suspected that you didn’t even read my posts, fM, now you’ve admitted it.

            Thanks.

            I had also long suspected that once I criticized Arendt for her sloppy interpretation of Marx you would label me a doctrinaire Marxist when I only originally starting posting in objection to what I considered your unflagging citation of Arendt and her criticisms of Marx that she used to formulate her famous equation Marxism=Stalinism=Nazism which you yourself have posted here.

            Seriously, it seemed for awhile – hmmm, today it appears you’re alluding to Marx nicely – that if there was even a whiff of Marx in an OP you were there with your Arendt – let’s not talk about Neihbur, right now, k? – quote in hand to tell us all what the great Hannah sayeth about the evils of Marx and how that whiff of Marx was really the smoke from an Auschwitz oven.

            So, I guess I – and the rest of academia – that considers Arendt’s interpretations of Marx off-base and incorrect are really just part of the Trotskyite vanguard…or is that the SS?

            It’s hard to tell sometimes admittedly. Oops.

            So, please, when I call bullsh!t on Arendt’s “interpretation” – that’s a kind word – of Marx that doesn’t mean I’m wrapping myself in the Manifesto or some such nonsense.

            It only means that I am objecting to Arendt’s – and seemingly your – point of view as I think what she says is radical, incorrect and dangerous not to Marxism per se – it can take care of itself – but to discourse – both academic and laic – in general.

            Seriously, you’re not only person on this board who’s educated and erudite but you’re one of the few who seemingly has the time and resources to quote what you’ve read at length which puts those of us who may object to what you post at a disadvantage.

            Now go ahead and respond with a 10 paragraph, cross-referenced answer that shows where Ms. Arendt had already addressed my objections in her depiction of Spinoza’s conception of…zzzzzzzzzzzz…oh, pardon me…when you know right well what it is and what it is not I’m specifically referring to.

            That is, if you’d know right well if you’d bother to read my posts in between copying and pasting block-quotes.

          5. jsmith

            Should be:

            That is, you’d know right well if you’d bother to read my posts in between copying and pasting block-quotes.

      2. JEHR

        Thank you so much for showing the absurdity of believing a country itself is to blame for all the austerity and lack of democracy when it is the banks who have caused the problem and if the banks were given proper treatment (bankruptcy and maybe prosecution of executives) the problem would be solved for a few years anyway until new tricks are learned by the banks.

        I love the give-and-take of tom and from Mexico. Best read I have had today.

      3. Kurt Sperry

        Good to see the pervasive Euro septentrional bias turned on its ear. It gets quite bigoted frankly at times, and particularly now when about the only viable voice of political sanity in opposition to suicidal lockstep austerity is coming from the South.

  3. Random Lurker

    @”it should not be buying the debt back at par.”

    But then also italian bonds held by Italians should not be bought at par, and this would be hugely umpopular.

    Grillo never came out with a clear “out from the euro” or “bankrupcy now”, because IMHO those idea if spelled clearly would be too scary for italian votes. So it is not obvious to me what are his plans, or in fact if he has any plan at all: I suspect that he just wants to “kick the bums out”, and then all will self-solve.

    1. from Mexico

      It’s one hell of a mess, and the only way to understand it, I believe, is with Marxian analysis, which has greatly influenced both Michael Hudson and Steve Keen, but which only Hudson has acknowledged:

      “From Marx to Goldman Sachs: The Fictions of Fictitious Capital”

      http://michael-hudson.com/2010/07/from-marx-to-goldman-sachs-the-fictions-of-fictitious-capital1/

      I remember reading an analysis by some Mexican or Spanish economist, whose name has escaped me, who claimed that the ratio of global capital to global GDP had risen from something like 13 only a decade ago to something like 18 more recently. The only way to look at most of this capital is through Marx’s concept of “ficticious capital”:

      Fictitious Capital — capital invested in securities (stocks, bonds), which give the holders the right to regularly appropriate a part of the profits in the form of dividends or interest. Being the paper counterpart of real capital, fictitious capital has a special movement outside the circulation of actual capital. As a specific commodity, it is bought and sold in a special market—the stock exchange—and it acquires a price. But since securities do not possess value, the fluctuations in their market price need not coincide (and often do not coincide) with changes in real capital.
      http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Fictitious+Capital

      Probably 90% of the capital that exists in the world today is ficticious capital, and of course all the claims on real capital can never be honored. So there are going to be some tremendous losses, and working out just who is going to absorb those losses will be one hell of a dog fight.

      The Spanish arbitristas were perhaps the first ones to grapple with the contradiciton between real capital and ficticious capital. J.H. Elliott wrote this, for instance, about Martín González de Cellorigo:

      “Money is not wealth,” he wrote, and his concern was to increase the national wealth by increasing the nation’s productive capacity rather than its stock of precious metals. This could only be achieved by investing more money in agricultural and industrial development. At present, surplus wealth was being unproductively invested — “dissipated on thin air — on papers, contracts, censos, and letters of exchange, on cash, and silver, and gold — instead of being expended on things that yield profits and attract riches from outside to augment the riches within. And thus there is no money, gold, or silver in Spain because there is so much; and it is not rich, because of all its riches…”

      J.H. ELLIOTT, Imperial Spain: 1469-1716

      “It was in this atmosphere of desengaño, of national disillusionment, that Cervantes wrote his Don Quixote,” Elliott explains. “The events of the 1590s had suddenly brought home to more thoughful Castilians the harsh truth about their native land — its poverty in the midst of riches, its power that had shown itself impotent,” Elliott continues. “It was under the influence of the arbitristas that early seventeenth-century Castile surrendered itself to an orgy of national introspection, desperately attempting to discover at what point reality had been exchanged for illusion.”

      1. Massinissa

        Thank you so very much for that Hudson link. Truly truly enriching, thank you so much for sharing it.

      2. Doug Terpstra

        Thanks, FM. The window into imperial Spain’s 14th century casino is a graphic reminder of how consistently history rhymes. The same narrow aquisitor mentality now reigns in the world’s one exceptional, indispensable empire. But surely this time it’s different.

        1. from Mexico

          Yep. As the Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes put it:

          Spain also became the first example of an anomaly that the United States runs the risk of repeating as our own century ends: that of being a poor empire, debt-ridden, incapable of solving its internal problems while insistent on playing an imperial role overseas, but begging alms from other, surplus-wealthy nations in order to finance its expansive role as world policeman…

          The Spanish writer Fernando Diaz Plaja finds a provacative parallel in this situation between Spain and the United States. Both, at the height of their influence, joined military and economic force to an obsessive belief in their own moral justification. Whether against Protestantism, in the case of Spain, or against communism, in the case of the United States, the nation overextended its power, postponed solving internal problems, and sacrificed generations. And even when the enemy ceased to be menancing, the desire to use power persisted, inebriating, seductive.

      3. Nathanael

        Mmmm, I think Veblen-style analysis is actually more informative than Marx-style analysis. It delves more heavily into the psychology.

    1. from Mexico

      Superb!

      It sounds like Grillo, just like the 17th-century arbitristas, is desperately attempting to discover at what point reality was exchanged for illusion.

  4. Paul W

    If the populace ever takes back its democracy will we see Nurenberg Trials in every country? In America it’s easy as you have so many politicians who have supported wars of aggression. Up here, in Canada, one has to speculate how much the politicians steal for themselves and their Country Club buddies or how many sweet heart deals they give to multinational corporations and how much canadian wealth is smuggled out of the country.

    Perhaps I’m being cynical but I suspect the politicians are just as corrupt in other countries.

    1. JEHR

      I’m with you, Paul W, but I would add that the corruption also lies with the banks and with the politicians who are supposed to oversee those banks. For example, our banks were infused with $114 billion of “liquidity” after the financial crisis in 2008. The PM at first denied that there was a bailout of the banks, but never explained why money had to be given to them. Those same “wonderfully secure” Canadian banks borrowed billions more from the Fed Reserve discount window. If they were so well run why did they have to borrow? And on and on it goes.

      We have “integrity” commissioners going to the Maritimes and questioning seasonal workers whether or not they should be claiming employment insurance (which is paid by employees and employers) when those same integrity commissioners should be turned around and directed towards the Senate where they will find a number of lofty individuals having difficulty recognizing where their official residences are for purposes of being re-imbursed for housing costs.

      Today, fraud-and-corruption is the new game in the world.

    2. hunkerdown

      When that kind of treasure is at stake, the best one can really hope for is a truth-and-reconciliation commission and/or banishment from the territories. The wealthy would most likely deploy violence against any who seek more than that.

      1. Nathanael

        If the super-rich deploy violence against people calling for trials of rich criminals (and if the violence can be traced back to them), that would be their own death sentence. Have they learned nothing from 1789?

  5. John F. Opie

    I fear that history is repeating itself, but this time truly as farce. Beppo is both more and less than he claims to be.

    There are far too many similarities between Beppo and Mussolini:

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/8854261/italys-new-duce/

    If you distrust that source, then try this, from an Italian leftist group:

    http://libcom.org/blog/wu-ming%E2%80%99s-interview-%E2%80%9Cbeppe-grillo-lives-ruins-movements-03032013

    http://strugglesinitaly.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/en-the-movimento-cinque-stelle-has-protected-the-system-a-comment-by-wu-ming/

  6. brazza

    I am an Italian … and still don’t know what to make of it. I don’t vote, because the system disgusts me and I don’t trust it, but I’m delighted by Grillo’s emergence, and would be a delighted participant in the “direct democracy” he advocates. The only thing I feel certain about is that the whole redundant political class should go home – nothing can happen until a thorough clean-up takes place because of the byzantine mire of cross-interests at play. IMHO, there comes a time when principle must trump convenience, including my own self-interest. I don’t believe Grillo is a populist demagogue (I doubt very much he had a clue where it was all leading – but finds himself with larger responsibilities than he had bargained for when he started his blog … and has little choice but ride the whale now), and I agree with his absolute refusal of traditional media. I don’t like his style much … but I “get” his message. Contrary to what often happens to rockstars, one hopes he won’t allow his ego to be caught up in the popular idolatry he is now object of. THAT is the real danger.

  7. Doug Terpstra

    “Of course I took the money.” The loveless, vacant sociopath is genuinely put out to be forced to answer such a manifestly stupid question. His is the matter-of-fact declaration of reigning neoliberal mentality, the soulless obsession to maximize one’s rational “value”, to discover the clearing price of everything and everyone without ever understanding the true value of anything.

    We can only reclaim a civilized society and a productive commonwealth when such pathetic Gollums are exposed for the tragic, possessed creatures that they are, when there is a heavy deterrent price imposed on their predations, and when they are permanently exorcised from finance and government. I hope Grillo can begin to make a difference.

  8. Susan the other

    It almost makes Monti sound good. I do not think there is a difference however. When you get to the upper reaches of power both the Mafia and the Neoliberals are the same. I can’t read Beppe. But the underlying mechanism here is the human instinct to come together in groups to promote self interest, aka politics. So I wonder sometimes if there is an opposing instinct – besides war – which can serve to stop corruption and distribute well being. I think we have to reinvent it – since the fall of communism opened the floodgates of greed. Something nutty like put a net worth on each living human being which sees that person through a lifetime without destitution and misery. That would be a good foundation. And then guide whatever institutions emerge in the same spirit. Never gonna happen.

  9. steve from virginia

    Grillo pros and cons, start with pros:

    – Grillo started a grassroots platform that works (nobody can figure out how to do this in the US, which is annoying).*

    – Grillo is forthright about his intentions.

    – Grillo puts his efforts where his mouth is: he doesn’t sell tee shirts or endorse Buicks.

    – Grillo is a politician without being a candidate or office-holder: he cannot run under the terms of his own party policy (he has criminal conviction).

    Cons:

    – Grillo’s platform contains no policy, it is a theatrical statement in and of itself, like Occupy was.

    – Grillo’s politics are irrelevant. Europe is at the edge of the abyss because of its massive fuel imports paid for with funds borrowed externally. It isn’t the funds that are bankrupting Europe but the fuel waste. When (not if) Europe fails it will be so regardless of what currencies are being used.

    Failure is inevitable, it cannot be avoided, sorry. It will effect all countries without exception because fuel waste is universal.

    None of the Italian (or other) politicians have mentioned energy even though Italy imports 1.5 million barrels of expensive Brent crude per day @ $110/barrel. Why again, is Italy bankrupt?

    The only reason Italy can gain fuel is because of the euro, not because of Italy. All of the ‘balance of trade-current account-private wealth’ noise is just that: Italy cannot pay for its own fuel any more than Greece, Spain, France, Portugal, Eire … or Japan, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Germany, US, China … can pay for theirs. Because fuel waste does not pay for itself, all must be borrowed, so far the oil producers are drinking the Kool Aid and shipping their capital overseas for the ‘glamor’ of it all.

    Grillo? Maybe a warning sign, but the end of technocrats is chaos and factionalism.

    * American pop culture is intolerant of ‘alternative’ institutions, creating new ones like Occupy is difficult b/c of headwinds. Nobody knows how to craft new institutions, nobody has had to do it. It is like re-inventing the wheel while the public as a whole sneers at the endeavor.

  10. gian75

    Yves, the timing is indeed curious, as Berluska can’t enjoy the protection of “legittimo impedimento” law anymore, afaik. But still the Parliament probably needs to give permission to proceed against him, which is something it seldom does… unless someone is planning to use it as a bargaining chip, which seems quite possible to me. As for Berluska being one of the few who actually understands how the “higher unlected powers that be” actually operate, that’s probably true as well, so his know how may be useful in rescuing HIS interest in Italy – but he is well knon to put his interest first and foremost, so why shouldn’t he use Italy as present to save himself and his interests?

    With regard to re: Right and Left supercoalition – I think that’s already happening,at least in the big media – they are trying to put any foreseable problem as an effect of Grillo’s unwillingness to bend over – it’s the so called “responsability” meme, trying to preemptively pin any problem on somebody for daring not to answer their appeal to “save italy” from phanton menace, the menace of choice being interest rate spread and the lack of international credibility of the soon to be formed government.

    On a side note, to readers who like remarking how Italy is a mess in which one needs to “network” with the “right” people… why, is the US situation much different with regulatory capture? I don’t mean to use that as a tu quoque, it’s just stating a fact, the usual elephant in the room, which is just not an italian elephant.

  11. TC

    I’m half Italian, so here’s one cent of my two…

    How does one not agree with your sense, Yves, about the curious timing of this indictment of Berlusconi? That said, though, per the man being “famously corrupt,” who are we, as Americans, to find any comfort in repeating such a charge? Why this could only serve to elevate those who call the U.S. the “Great Satan!” Our political class makes corruption look virgin. There’s just no comparison lending reason for any American to parrot sensibilities about a man whose supposed “seedy” character we have been spoon fed by CIA-linked assets.

    Now, about Beppe, the man I call Ron Paul’s hippie brother…

    What’s this talk about him being “anti-austerity?” His program is smash unions, cut pensions, paralyze government by legislating through endless resolutions, dismantle infrastructure investment, reduce energy consumption, and just to please everyone, full pursuit of environmentalism. If this guy isn’t on Team Fraud, then the trans-Atlantic banking system is perfectly solvent. Already 5-star links to Bilderberg via Casaleggio are well established. This was known even before Italian elections of a week ago.

    How is it otherwise very intelligent people are such suckers for CIA-initiated “color revolutions,” the likes of which in form brought the United States its Obama, a creature who in many ways is worse than the neo-con disease his administration preceded? Is he not proven nothing more than a closet neo-con in fact?

    Ditto Beppe. Berlusconi is a credible threat to current plans to trash the EMU for the sake of supporting an agenda otherwise served by decrepit structures forming the London-New York Axis of Fraud, these having been put in place for the very sake of destroying the Westphalian notion of the sovereign nation state. Globalization and an ill-founded EMU figure prominently, while their destruction is no dilemma. Rather it is a long-established intention whose coming to fruition the likes of Beppe Grillo is being elevated to serve. Any wonder Goldman Sachs is throwing the firms weight behind the man?

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