Three reasons Italy will surprise those writing it off too early

A recent article by @FrankBruni on the New York Times had Italy talk quite a lot about it.

Italy “breaks your heart“, is it’s heading. The fil rouge of its content is that Italians think about Italy as

a country that they love but have lost faith in

Bruni is adamant about

Italians’ theatrical pessimism, [and] their talent for complaint

Yet, in addition to that, “the arias have been different this time around”, he says. His elaborate conclusion is one of despair:

I was zipping past wonders, zooming through splendor. But I hadn’t a clue if I was actually getting anywhere

Let me share here a comment I posted on the New York Time website, as I believe this point deserves more than a passing word.

Indeed Italy “breaks your heart” and indeed when we look ahead we see uncertainty and challenges.

I want to spend a word of hope, though.

There are at least three reasons people better not write Italy off too early:

  1. We are a net beneficiary of a higher degree of discipline that the European Union might bring over time. The Governments led by Mario Monti and Enrico Letta have started working on some crucial structural reforms. The European Union is here to stay, in spite of what many people still think. Let me now remind what Benjamin Franklin replied, when someone stated to him, in 1776, “We need to hang out together”.”Yes, was his reply, we need to hang out together, otherwise we will hang out separately”. This wonderfully applies to the European Union;
  2. Our pension system, and INPS, the public body overseeing it, has been restructured and is in far better health than any of its equivalents in the Western world (strangely, one of Italy’s best kept secrets). This gives Italy a financial tranquillity that no other Western country has. All of them, but Italy, will have to come to grip with huge pension unbalances. This is way too often overlooked in discussions about Italy’s government debt to GDP ratio;
  3. What seems a chaotic disorder is, in many ways, a very solid sistem. Our decentralised republic, with all its drawbacks, has guaranteed growth and stability a lot more than it appears. I will just quote Nassim Taleb, who was recently in Italy and we could listen to him say “When you look at things that have improved with time, a lot of them come from Italy“. We are far more “anti-fragile” than we look. Great success stories continue to be in the making.

We need to keep working hard.

Yet, Italy will make it.

Tommaso Arenare


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