Monday, December 10, 2012

Two Shipwrecks

There were two near-shipwrecks yesterday.

First, during a storm that left Enna, Cammarata and other mountainous areas blanketed with snow, a ferry was nearly capsized by a huge wave as it neared the Port of Palermo, spilling several trucks and shipping containers into the sea. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.

The second event, whose long-term consequences will be more painful, was the resignation of Italian prime minister Mario Monti, the banker who led the country away from the brink of financial disaster and possible default. If the United States is facing a "fiscal cliff," you can imagine Italy's situation!

Clearly, the financial threat to Italy's stability is not over, as demonstrated by reactions across Europe. An economist and professor, Monti was not appointed politically (by parliament), and whatever "negatives" are attached to his brief term during a single year (particularly tax increases), nobody elected in 2013 will be better than he was. That's a prediction you can bank on.

More immediately, inflation and unemployment are threatening to make this the most frugal Christmas season Italians have seen in decades

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