January 3, 2009

Mysterious Italy!

It’s a commonplace that Italy is a beautiful but strange, unmanageable, unreliable country, and that it was just its own oddness that recently led—after a spectacular post-war growth record—to a gradual impoverishment.Italy and its economy are like the Titanic hitting the iceberg,” said once Gianni De Michelis, deputy prime minister in 1988 and 1989. An he was right, at least in part.

That is also why the kind of news we are getting these days on the economic front have the power to overtake us, I mean news such as this. So we learn that the GDP (gross domestic product) per average Briton, which was $45,970 in 2007, is expected to slump to just $35,243 this year, “lower than even Italy”—as the Telegraph puts it—on $37,866 the fifth-placed economy. And Britain falls into sixth place for the first time since 1996. Ok, this is because of the plunging value of the sterling, but

[e]ven stripping out effects of the currency, all economists predict that Britain will be hit hard this year, with forecasting house IHS Global Insight predicting the economy would shrink by an alarming 2.7 per cent, causing the country to suffer from the deepest recession since the Second World War.

Who would have ever predicted this? Certainly not the British newspapers (er, no, actually …) neither the Italian ones, to speak frankly, nor the Italian bloggers. Mysterious Italy!

P.S. I would like to say “we Italians got it right this time,” but the truth is that, this time, the Brits got it wrong. So sorry my British friends …