Monday, April 21, 2008

Some Optimism for Italy

Given Silvio Berlusconi's record during his two mandates as Italy's prime minister, hearing that he has just been elected for a third non consecutive one gives little reason to hope that anything will be fixed in that country in the short term. Therefore the words of Domenico Siniscalco - former minister of finance under Mr Berlusconi in 2004 and currently vice-chairman of Morgan Stanley Europe - about Italy's future in an interview given to The Economist's Certain Ideas of Europe blog are of a surprising but welcomed optimism. He basically asserts that Italy has hit rock bottom - or at least is very close to reaching it - so reform is inevitable and will be done, whatever the government.

The big question remains whether Mr. Berlusconi will be the man leading the much needed reform, whether he'll use wisely the "état de grace" following his election as prime minister, something our favorite MiB failed to do. Big, very big question and judging by his first initiative as prime minister to favor Aeroflot over Air France KLM in acquiring Alitalia, the long term answer is very unlikely to be a favorable one. But this leads me to another troubling question, are we here in France waiting to hit rock bottom also in order to actually do something? Fortunately I'd say that I see more initiative towards reform but Speedy Gonzales is far from being that speedy - speedy, not hasty.