The Italian Dead Sheep
There is a little known rule that the worst chancellors should resemble characters from films about minor public schools. Italy excels, so much so that the current incumbent is a dead ringer for the savage Geoffrey Howe. Mr Tremonti is the face of the crisis for Italy – it helps that he is at odds with Mr Toad on a near permanent basis, but the fly in the ointment is that he is utter crap as an economist. Tremonti runs a firm of tax accountants – ie advises rich people on how to avoid paying tax, and as chancellor declares an income of 38000 euros – which is less than the MP’s pension drawn by La Cicciolina – the pornstar who became an MP for one parliament and now gets over 3 grand a month for her efforts.
Mr Tremonti makes lots of pronouncements and takes lots of interventive action. He is best known for allowing lots of very rich people to bring back money illegally exported from Italy and pay 5% to the government instead of the 50% the law prescribed. Other economically incisive actions have been to not allow the raising of VAT under any circumstances in the latest budget. So incisive was this measure that VAT rose by 1% last week. He stood shoulder to shoulder with Mr Toad when the latter announced the end of the recession in 2009, then again in 2010 and again this spring when were told that Italy was fantastically well placed to ride out the problems – that were in any case an invention of the media etc etc etc. Giulio has designed a budget for sobriety and growth without a single measure for growth. in fact in the last 3 years, there has not been a single eonomic measure passed which promotes a wholly stagnant economy in any way.
It has been said of Tremonti that he is an economist who has brought Italy to the brink of ruin but is so wholly incapable he couldnt even manage that. – But perhaps the most telling quote is ‘ He is the most able European minister there is’ – Thank you Tony Blair…