Mario Monti: Reforming Italy
How does Italy’s prime minister plan to cope with the euro crisis and revive his country’s economy?
Economist Mario Monti was tapped to become Italy’s prime minister in mid-November after the country’s debt crisis toppled Silvio Berlusconi, his ineffectual and scandal-prone predecessor. The Globalist presents Mr. Monti’s goals and expectations for his administration, as well as his views on how the euro crisis is affecting Italy’s economy and political landscape.
What should Italians expect under your leadership?
“Blood no, tears no, but maybe sacrifices.”
“We owe it to our children to give them a dignified and hopeful future.”
How do you intend to do this?
“By getting out quickly from a situation which has elements of an emergency – but which Italy can overcome with a united effort.”
Are you confident you and your country are up to the task?
“I would like to confirm my absolute serenity and conviction in the capacity of our country to overcome this difficult phase.”
Have your recent meetings with various political, union and business leaders made you more optimistic?
“I was impressed by the sense of responsibility and willingness to back social growth. Everyone offered concrete contributions of possible partial sacrifices in exchange for a more general positive outcome.”
How are you perceived in Italy?
“I have always been considered to be the most German among Italian economists, which I always received as a compliment, but which was rarely meant to be a compliment.”
What’s your strategy regarding the EU?
“Italy must become a point of strength, and not of weakness, in the union of which we were founders.”
Should the world expect rapid action?
“I am not ignoring the importance of the markets, but we are in a democracy – and there is a certain time that is needed.”
What needs to be done to vitalize Italy’s economy?
“By introducing more competition, we will in due course introduce more merit – and less of a role for nepotism, clientism, corruption, whatever.”
Do you expect the Italian people to accept the hardships of reform?
“If the Italians do not see concrete rewards for their willingness to save and reform, there will be protests in Italy against Europe and also against Germany which is seen as ringleader of EU intolerance and against the European Central Bank.”
Editor’s Note: This feature is a “virtual” interview. We have provided the questions in order to provide context for the thoughts expressed. Quotes were gathered from a variety of new sources between November 2011 and January 2012.