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  • Italy: Looking Up at Down

    After S&P’s downgrade Il Sole-24 Ore, a business newspaper owned by Confindustria, the bosses’ federation, said it was time for Mr Berlusconi to go. Italy, it argued, was now the euro-zone country most likely to follow Greece into turmoil. It blamed, among other things, “the fragility of its governing coalition, the embarrassing chain of scandals that directly affect the prime minister, his ministers and their immediate associates, [and a] persistent inability to take painful but necessary decisions.”

    SILVIO BERLUSCONI and his coalition ally, Umberto Bossi, look increasingly like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in the last scene of the 1969 Western: wounded, doomed, yet seemingly unaware of the sheer numbers ranged against them.

    Already rocked by thousands of pages of evidence detailing his alleged whoremongering, Italy’s prime minister took a more serious hit on September 20th when Standard & Poor’s, a ratings agency, downgraded Italy and expressed grave doubts about the government’s ability to respond effectively to the crisis in the euro zone. Such views are widely shared in Italy. Most Italians seem to have realised that their prime minister is a liability. His approval rating has slumped below 25%. He lost the unions a long time ago; now employers have lost faith in his right-wing government’s handling of the economy.

    After S&P’s downgrade Il Sole-24 Ore, a business newspaper owned by Confindustria, the bosses’ federation, said it was time for Mr Berlusconi to go. Italy, it argued, was now the euro-zone country most likely to follow Greece into turmoil. It blamed, among other things, “the fragility of its governing coalition, the embarrassing chain of scandals that directly affect the prime minister, his ministers and their immediate associates, [and a] persistent inability to take painful but necessary decisions.”

    Even this is not the end of Mr Berlusconi’s troubles. He is a defendant in three trials: one on charges of embezzlement, tax-dodging and false accounting, one in which he stands accused of paying an under-age prostitute and one for alleged bribery. (He denies all the charges.) The third, in which he is accused of corrupting his former legal adviser, David Mills, is the one he is said to fear most. On September 19th the judges overseeing the case shortened the list of witnesses, making it more likely that a verdict will be reached before Mr Berlusconi is saved, as he has so often been before, by a statute of limitations.

    Just as damaging are two investigations in which the prime minister is not a suspect. One involves claims that he was blackmailed by Giampaolo Tarantini, a businessman from the southern city of Bari who is alleged to have supplied more than 100 women, including numerous prostitutes, for parties at Mr Berlusconi’s homes.

    Read Full Article in Economist.com

    Good luck.

    Calvin Wilson
    Founder and CEO
    Upstart: Business and Management for 20-40 Year Old Professionals
    calvin.wilson1@verizon.net
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    Filed Under: Global Business

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    About the Author: The Economist offers authoritative insight and opinion on international news, politics, business, finance, science and technology. The Economist's website can be found at http://www.economist.com.

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