Erik F Nielsen is Global Chief Economist of Unicredit, one of continental Europe’s leading banks. Prior to that, he had been Chief European Economist at Goldman Sachs, for several years. That was the job he held when I first met him, in 2011.
I have always admired Erik’s ability to see through the fog, his being brave in his well-rooted capacity to read people and their behaviour.
For a second, let’s go back to the situation in Europe a year ago. On 10 October 2011, Moody’s and Fitch had cut Italy’s rating heavily (Moody’s by three notches to A plus – yet higher than today’s…). Erik pointed this out, but then clearly argued:
“But sometimes the market gets it all wrong, as is the case now.”
Hence, his argument continued, Italy’s debt was a much safer bet than others, such as the UK’s triple A. Italy would get things done and make it.
Erik gave me the occasion for my first tweet ever, on that very day:
Almost a year (and many hundred tweets) later, Professor Monti, Italy’s Prime Minister, could speak at the Council on Foreign Relations, on 27 September, pointing out that
…by the way, Italy will have next year a balanced budget in structural terms,… And we will be one of the first two, hopefully, EU member states to have reached that… very demanding objective, which implies, to give you an idea, that given the huge stock of debt, we will have and we are having year after year some 5 percent of GDP primary surplus.
Only the brave (as Erik Nielsen, Professor Monti and, luckily, many others with them) could have seen all this, a year or so ago.
I will finish with another tweet and a little hope, again from Professor Monti’s speech at the Council on Foreign Relations:
Seven more years of Monti’s leadership, as seven years is the mandate that the Italian Parliament will award to our next President of the Italian Republic.
Only the brave…