Italy's Greater Depression - Eerie memories of the 1930s
This is from the Telegraph:
It is hard not to be reminded of the kind of political and social chaos that we saw in Europe in the 1930s and it is hard not to think that the extremely weak Italian economy is the key catalyst for Italy's political and social unrest. By many measures the Italian economy of today is worse than the Italian economy of the 1930s. One can say - as Brad DeLong has suggested - that this is a Greater Depression than the Great Depression. Just take a look at the development in real GDP over the past 10 years and during the 1925-1936-period. If you wonder why Italian GDP took a large jump in 1936 (year +6) it should be enough to be reminded that that was the year that the Italian lira was sharply devalued. Today Italy don't have the lira and everybody knows who I blame for the deep crisis in the Italian economy. It is sad that so few European policy makers understand the monetary causes of this crisis and it is tragic that the longer the ECB takes to act the more political and social unrest we will face in Europe. PS I do not mean to suggest that Italy do not have structural problems. Italy has massive structural problems, but the core reason for the Greater Depression is monetary policy failure. Don't blame Renzi or the immigrants - blame the Italian in Frankfurt.Italy was hit by strikes, violent demonstrations and protests against refugees on Friday as anger and frustration towards soaring unemployment and the enduring economic crisis exploded onto the streets.Riot police clashed with protesters, students and unionists in Milan and Padua, in the north of the country, while in Rome a group of demonstrators scaled the Colosseum to protest against the labour reforms proposed by the government of Matteo Renzi, the 39-year-old prime minister.Eggs and fire crackers were hurled at the economy ministry.On the gritty, long-neglected outskirts of Rome there was continuing tension outside a centre for refugees, which was repeatedly attacked by local residents during the week. Locals had hurled stones, flares and other missiles at the migrant centre, smashing windows, setting fire to dumpster rubbish bins and fighting running battles with riot police during several nights of violence. They demanded that the facility be closed down and claimed that the refugees from Africa and Asia were dirty, anti-social and violent. Some protesters, with suspected links to the extreme Right, yelled "Viva Il Duce" or Long Live Mussolini, calling the migrants "b*******", "animals" and "filthy Arabs". ...A group of 36 teenage migrants had to be evacuated from the centre in Tor Sapienza, a working-class suburb, on Thursday night after the authorities said the area was no longer safe for them.The sense of chaos in the country was heightened by transport strikes, which disrupted buses, trams, trains and even flights at Rome's Fiumicino airport. Demonstrations also took place in Turin, Naples and Genoa. Unemployment among young people in Italy is around 42 per cent, prompting tens of thousands to emigrate in search of better opportunities, with Britain the top destination. The overall jobless rate is 12 per cent. Mr Renzi's attempts to reform the country's labour laws, making it easier for firms to dismiss lazy or inefficient employees, are bitterly opposed by the unions. The ongoing recession has also exacerbated racial tensions, with some Italians blaming refugees and immigrants for their economic woes.