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Italy and Globalization

Will Silvio Berlusconi’s government push Italy’s integration into the global economy?

July 19, 2001

Will Silvio Berlusconi's government push Italy's integration into the global economy?

Italy’s position in the global economy is ambiguous at best. It is the seventh-largest economy in the world, but many in Europe have doubts about its ability to adapt fully to the rigors of the euro zone and its markets beyond. Also, the new government under Silvio Berlusconi still needs to prove itself, as it battles against memories of a chaotic first term which lasted for just over six months. Our new Read My Lips feature takes a closer look.

Why will there be protesters at the G8 Summit?

“For the first time in history, this technological revolution is causing social regress, with workers in industrial countries losing their acquired rights — just as people in poorer countries become even more poor.”

(Fausto Bertinotti, leader of Italy’s Reformed Communist Party, July 2001)

Why are Italians worried about globalization?

“Anti-globalization taps right into the two strongest currents in Italy’s postwar politics — catholicism and communism.”

(Renato Mannheimer, Italian pollster, July 2001)

What is the biggest challenge the country is facing now?

“Italy is starting from a third-world situation.”

(Eric Chaney, Morgan Stanley economist, on Italy’s economic problems, May 2001)

How do Italians go about initiating reforms?

“We make major changes when our back is to the wall — and we really perceive risk.”

(Marco Tronchetti Provera, CEO of Pirelli, May 2001)

What is Italy’s historic contribution to the financial markets?

“Ironically, the world’s bond investors have Italy to thank for the development of their business: It was merchants of the medieval republics of Northern Italy who established the world’s first credit markets.”

(Reporter for Financial Times, January 1995)

What are the prospects for Italian-U.S. relations under Silvio Berlusconi?

“When I hear the word America, I take sides instinctively, thinking that America is always right — even if I become more critical later on.”

(Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s Prime Minister, July 2001)

Just where might Italy be a leader in the global economy today?

“Italy has completely changed the fiscal rules, and now our taxation system is one of the most modern in the world. But no one realized that because we did not reduce taxes.”

(Vicenzo Visco, former Italian Treasury Minister, September 2000)

How does democracy work in Italy?

“In Italy, nobody’s going to lift the stone to look at the worms. We don’t have America’s empirical mania.”

(Italian journalist, on looser election rules in Italy compared to the United States, October 2000)

What is Italy’s main motive for integration into Europe?

“My country is too wise not to understand that alone we are dead.”

(Italy’s former Prime Minister Romano Prodi — and current EU Commission President, March 1997)

What is Italy’s role in the EU?

“We are no longer poor cousins.”

(Rocco Buttiglione, Italy’s Minister for European Affairs, July 2001)

What are some of the concerns?

“If this Europe is asking us to cut pension spending in order to enter today, tomorrow it will ask for other welfare cuts to allow us to stay in.”

(Member of Italy’s ruling coalition, criticizing efforts to join the European Monetary Union, October 1997)

How are you going to help your country, Prime Minister?

“I was driven by the knowledge that only I can turn this country around.”

(On why he ran for office a second time, May 2001)

What makes you think so?

“I am the greatest politician in the world.”

(July 2001)