Discontent in Italy (article)

Dec 13th, 2007, 04:05 PM
  #1  
cmt
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Discontent in Italy (article)

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/13/wo...erland&emc=rss
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Dec 13th, 2007, 05:21 PM
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I read that today and thought it was pretty interesting.
wliwl is offline  
Dec 13th, 2007, 05:23 PM
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cmt,
thanks for posting this. my "Italian daughter" is going to love it, especially the video!
artlover is offline  
Dec 13th, 2007, 08:26 PM
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This problem has been going on for some time in Italy. I know from conversations with numerous good Italian friends in Italy and also due to the fact that my son-in-law has all of his relatives in Italy, in Rome and in the nearby vicinity.

Quite some time ago I posted about this on another website. Good friends in Italy had asked me to tell Americans if when they were in Italy if Italians did not seem as happy and relaxed as in the past to not take it personal as it was not that they did not like and appreciate Americans visiting Italy it was just that so many Italians were so stressed. I did so and a "know it all" poster blasted me and called my post biazzare.

I was interested in reading pretty much the same article in the Internation Herald Tribune yesterday. There is a thread in our Lounge about this.

Italians are having a rough time. The economy, the crime and the political problems are taking its toll.
LoveItaly is offline  
Dec 14th, 2007, 01:50 AM
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Interesting reading, Carol - thanks for the link.

I keep hearing the same from my Italian friends.

The 'feel good' factor seems to have take a nosedive since the new millenium (- dating pretty much since the introduction of the euro, I think).

It makes me glad my time in Italy was back in the 80's, not now ...

Steve

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Dec 14th, 2007, 02:07 AM
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This is reflected in the blockades by Italian lorry drivers earlier this week. Food did not get to the shops and even Fiat had to close down production as it ran out of parts. Fortunately they lifted the blockade early due to government promises (lets hope they keep them!)or else it would have had a major knock effect throughout Europe. It was due to be lifted this evening (friday), but as lorries are not allowed to drive through many European countries at weekends, or on Sundays it would have prevented those lorries queueing up with produce getting through to the rest of Europe. Northern Europe relies quite a bit on Italian fruit and veg at this time of year.

I don't think the Euro had any real effect - the Lire was overvalued making things cheaper when the Euro came in, unlike here in the Netherlands where the Guilder was under-valued and so things got more expensive, and as a result had a very real effect on the mood of the people.
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Dec 14th, 2007, 02:30 AM
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Thanks for the link, cmt.

>The word here is “malessere,” or “malaise”; ....

Perhaps Jimmy Carer can help.

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Dec 14th, 2007, 03:04 AM
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It's almost entirely down to the Euro. Plus the effects of globalisation and EU expansion

Before Euro (BE), Italy devalued its currency almost as often as it changed governments - so that its manufactured goods kept on getting cheaper, meaning jobs migrated to Italy from Northern Europe.

The governments financed insane systems of letting public servants retire about an hour after they started work by just running up ever-growing debt.

The ease of running an economy based on cheap labour meant Italy - unlike Britain or Holland - didn't develop businesses that could compete on the world market if that labour ever stopped being cheap. And public debt deterred people from looking after themselves: savings in private pension funds account for 130% of Holland's GDP, but less than 1% of Italy's. Italians still assume the taxman will fund their retirement.

All now impossible. Italy can't devalue, because the ECB, not whoever's in power this morning, sets the rules surrounding the currency. Italy can't increase government debt, because its Euro peers won't let it. So it's got to fund those loopy pension schemes from current revenue.

Meanwhile, Czechs and Romanians provide better, cheaper labour for goods like cars. Asia makes T-shirts a great deal cheaper. Italy's squandered all the benefits of its post war miracle by over-rewarding idle ex-civil servants and letting government chums steal the rest. And there's not a single businessman in Italy with a shred of an idea for getting the country out of its mess - except whining that the functioning part of Europe should help Italy by banning imports from the world's efficient countries.

It was utterly predictable that Italy would be the worst hit by joining the Euro - especially by joining just as the EU abolished most restrictions on imports from countries to its east and China joined the WTO. It's a tribute to its hopless, corrupt, media that there wasn't a peep of discussion about any of this in the late 1990s. Just mindless reprinting of EU orthodoxy.

Italy's youth have every right to be pissed off. They're the ones who face a jobless future, thanks to the uselessness of their parents' generation.
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Dec 14th, 2007, 04:48 AM
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'I don't think the Euro had any real effect - the Lire was overvalued making things cheaper when the Euro came in'

That's not what happened at all, Hetismij.

The lire was supposed to convert at approx 2000 lire = &euro 1 - if I remember.

Instead some traders just knocked off the zeros, so
2000 lire became € 2.

It didn't happen right across the board, of course - but prices of many things took a huge hike after conversion.

That's one reason why many Italians are now nostalgic for a return to the Lire. Too late ...

I have Italian friends who thought we (- in the UK) were foolish to stay out of the Euro. Now those same friends wish the Italian government had had the sense to do the same.

Flanner - You make many good points.

It would be interesting to see Vincenzo's views on this - or any of our other Italian resident posters.

Steve
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Dec 14th, 2007, 05:38 AM
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"His message was enough inaction and excess (Italian lawmakers are the best paid in Europe, driven around by the Continent’s largest fleet of chauffeured cars), enough convicted criminals in Parliament (there are 24), enough of the same, tired old faces."

Americans should read that over and over.

And what is Tom Delay doing these days. Back to killin' varmints.
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Dec 14th, 2007, 08:49 AM
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This is a very interesting topic to me, because I recall quite clearly reading many articles before the adoption of the euro, which predicted Italy would greatly benefit from the adoption of the unified currency!

That NYT article was very interesting too.

I couldn't help but think of my friend in Northern Italy who is in her mid 30s, struggles to find employment despite her skills as a web designer, and thus still lives with her parents.


Ralphie is offline  
Dec 14th, 2007, 08:52 AM
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This is a very interesting topic to me, because I recall quite clearly reading many articles before the adoption of the euro, which predicted Italy would greatly benefit from the adoption of the unified currency!

That NYT article was very interesting too.

I couldn't help but think of my friend in Northern Italy who is in her mid 30s, struggles to find employment despite her skills as a web designer, and thus still lives with her parents.


** also wanted to add that I haven't been to Italy since the euro was fully adopted. One of the main reasons for this is the exchange rate. I hope that changes within a few years, but in the mean time I can only get on this forum and travel vicariously through everyone else~
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Dec 21st, 2007, 09:06 AM
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I read the NyTimes article also. After reading it again, I went back thru and replaced Italy with U.S. You know, dollar down 1.50 vs Euro; 2.05 vs. Brit Pound. Gasoline over $3/gal since the election in 2000.

Cheap labor crossing the border at a rate of 90,000 per month. Food, housing and energy sky high.

Sounded to me a lot like it is here.
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Dec 22nd, 2007, 07:04 AM
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We returned from Italy last month. Among the complaints we heard about current life in Italy was a lot of grumbling about the Pope. They called him "That German Pope." It seems the people we talked to were not happy with the Pope's frequent comments on Italian political affairs. Apparently, his expressed views are looked upon as meddling.
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Dec 22nd, 2007, 07:22 AM
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So far some economic realities haven't been mentioned.

One of the unique factors of the Itlaian economy in the postwar era was the small, family owned business - that could be a 4 person production or a sixty person one, with many of those serving larger companies (for instance an "artisanal" parts maker supplying Fiat). But the opening of China has hit these small businesses hard, and the exporting of jobs has as much to do with growing unemployment as any influx of immigrants, possibly more. And this is someting many of us can witness close to home, wherever we are in the west.

The government issues are innumberable, but as far as Italy's leading businesses - as well as its small ones - there are plenty of savvy leaders, and plenty of viable industries. They certainly have challenges ahead, but they didn't become a top tier world economic leader simply by revalueing the currency -

Business in Italy tends to be on the conservative - read Berlusconi and co - side of politics and would love to change some of the old, more socialist ways of running the country. Problem is they have their own corrupt leadership to deal with - read Berlusconi and co - if they want to address the left with authority.
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Dec 22nd, 2007, 09:59 AM
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You know Ralphie sometimes the social legislation streched to the maximum contributes- I believe- to the malaise, while in Firenze this year the hairdresser saloon I went to, was fairly large, but only her owner worked there. She was fairly young and explained to me, I cannot afford having help with all the social legislation in place, so instead of hiring people I work alone. What does this tell you?
Easily five to six people could work there. But she was alone.
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Dec 22nd, 2007, 10:43 AM
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"They certainly have challenges ahead, but they didn't become a top tier world economic leader simply by revalueing the currency "

Quite right. Keeping Europe's markets closed to more efficient competitors was a crucial part of their strategy too.

But the rest of us have got fed up of watching Italy squander our money (yup: Italy still depends on stealing British, German and Swedish taxpayers' money) on kickbacks to its corrupt politicians, jobs for life (or at least for the three seconds between getting hired and retiring) for its work-shy public servants and endless retirement for the whole population.

And we're certainly not going to deprive our citizens of access to products made by people who do an honest day's work to keep the Italian graft machine ticking over merrily.
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Dec 27th, 2007, 10:51 AM
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I agree Graziella.

I;ve been to several restaurants (I'll bet we all have!) that were similar to that salon. Restaurant was owned by husband and wife, and they split ALL the duties, cooking, cleaning, hosting, waiting tables..
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Dec 27th, 2007, 11:48 AM
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In the eye of the beholder! A Polish friend lives and works in Bologna, a day ago she told me that her life there is,"Wonderful!".
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