3) Italy invented Banks. Banks were born in the Middle Ages to italian grain merchants (see "Merchant banks" in Wikipedia for more info). Banks are a very complex reality in Italy. They got it away without major damages during the recent subprime crisis, most likely due to their old-styled way of doing business. Indeed, in an economic environment such as Italy's, where the vast majority of the enterprises are moms-and-pops ones, banks are supposed to play a crucial role in the survival of the economic system as a whole. Still, the overall picture of Italy's entrepreneurship is a dull one, in that it's restricted to only a few names (5 or 6 being the most notable), many of which exibiting a fairly rich criminal résumé displaying bribing and bankrupcy fraud practices that are very common in our country, because if you are important enough there is always a law you can fall back on to guarantee your impunity. Displaying the most relevant effect of our banking system being so overwhemingly important, these people's concept of entrepeneurship isn't so much referred to a strategical value of sort, if at all, as it is to avid speculation and pure greed. They are in fact mostly predators which moves from a major company to another, leaving only a hill of debris behind. That explains why a company like Telecom Italia has 1/10 to 1/20 less value then its counterparts in the french and germany stock exchanges. Needless to say, these businessmen are major investors in the bank system themselves. And in perfect Berlusconian style, they swim in the pool of the conflict of interest like fishes in water, precipiting Italy in a situation where the bankers who do the financing are also the the owner of the firms who profit from it, and where the watchdogs of the system are virtually the same who are supposed to be watched over. Bank and financial services didn't undergo restructuring during the recent crisis, as happened in the U.S., and still account for 35% of the capitalization in the italian equivalent of the american Dow Jones index, almost double as much as in France, in Germany and in the U.S., where an overgrown financial system was brought back by the crisis to a more healthy and sustainable dimension. If we bring utilities into the equation, then the percentage increases to 80%. That is the result of decades of state presence in the national economy, dating back to the fascism era and beyond. Currently, a net 41% of capitals quoted in our main Index is in the state's hands (data as to 03/22/2010, reference: "Repubblica", pag. 15). The scandals of Cirio's and Parmalat's bonds (two major companies which put themselves at the centre of two of the most outrageous frauds in the italian economic history, related to illegaly issuing junk bonds to unaware retail investors), wiped out in Italy bonds as a viable way of private financing: an effect of the mistrust that those scandals spread among retail and institutional investors. As a result, the management of capital flows has been more and more prerogative of the national banks, which are also to be held responsible for actively participating in Cirio and Parmalat massive frauds. Moreover, our banks have flooded many of our local public administrations with CDS contracts, indebting municipalities and regional governments for 35 billion euros, that's to say one third of their total indebtdness (Financial Times). Flow of international capitals into the italian economy was both deliberately discouraged by governments (under the pretence of a ridicolous "defence of Italy's identity", as in the recent refusal to sell the financially distressed state-owned airway company "Alitalia" to Airfrance, which is costing Italy at least 5 billion euros) or disregarded by investors themselves, who cast doubt upon the actual competitiveness and transparency of our economy. Incidentally, whereas Madoff will have to die as inmate in a state prison, Callisto Tanzi, the criminal mind behind the Parmalat scandal, is free and has already started up a new business.
A State tailored for one manWe are in Italy 37 laws away from democracy. That is the number of laws that mr. Berlusconi and his staff (mostly made up of his own private lawiers) created to benefit his own person and had the parliament approve. And that's not to mention the added contribution of the parliamentary "opposition" either with proposals or by approving criminal-friendly laws themselves, when they took the lead of the country. If we take into account also the laws mr. Berlusconi promoted and had approved to benefit - or damage - people and private interests of all sorts, then the number raises to more than 100. What separates democracy - or even any other form of government for that matter - from the law of the jungle is the principle that laws must be abstract and retain a generic value. That's not what we have seen in Italy in the last 16 years, when laws "ad personam" (to enable Berlusconi to avoid jail), laws "ad personas" (to enable people of Berlusconi's entourage to avoid jail), laws "ad aziendam" (to favour Berlusconi's firms in spite of the principle of free competition) or laws "ad listam" (to favour his local candidates during the ongoing campaign for the election of the regional administrations), among others, were approved.
The inevitable conclusionIn 1988 situationist thinker Guy Debord, author of the work of genius "The Society of the Spectacle", declared Italy to be the nation where the realisation of the Society of the Spectacle had reached its apex. The italians who believe that something can still be done pray the European Community to put Italy in a regime of compulsory administration, before a situation that has already gone out of control can spread its destructive effects to all the civil world out there.