It’s been a dramatic week in both the USA and Italy

Obama and Berlusconi: Do the fiscal shenanigans going

on in Rome make Washington look good by comparison?

[Maxlider's Photostream, U.S.]

[Click Here for More Images]



La Repubblica, Italy

The Disfunction Follies: Rome vs. Washington


"In Italy, the economy is melting due to the Berlusconi non-government. And in the U.S., Republicans used a type of 'legislative terrorism', employing a weapon never used before and prompting Standard & Poor’s to downgrade U.S. Treasury bonds due to government dysfunction."


By Alexander Stille



Translated by Katharine Townsend


August 6, 2011


Italy - La Repubblica - Original Article (Italian)

President Obama looks particularly stressed as he heads to the White House Rose Garden to make a statement on the economy, Aug. 2.  

FINANCIAL TIMES VIDEO: Market distrust of policymakers grows, Aug. 8, 00:02:29RealVideo

It’s been a dramatic week in both the USA and in Italy. The agreement (or rather the “cease-fire”) between Obama and the Republicans on the national debt triggered the biggest market decline in two years, while in Italy the economy is melting due to the Berlusconi non-government.


I didn’t write this week because I was in a kind of dilemma over the way the dispute over the debt ceiling between Obama and the Republicans ended. It seemed to me like Obama's latest surrender to Republicans. They used a type of “legislative terrorism,” employing a weapon never used before. Over recent decades, the debt ceiling has been raised 66 times by both Republican and Democratic presidents in an automatic and bi-partisan way. In this case it was used as a kind of pistol to take the national economy hostage - do what we say or we’ll ruin the nation's credit! And Obama, after all, gave in. But he, too, had the chance to use a new and more powerful weapon: raising the debt ceiling on is own by invoking a clause from our Constitution that says that the credit of the United States is inviolable [the 14th Amendment]. He would have created a ruckus and a constitutional challenge between government branches, but he would have saved the nation's credit and shown some grit.



I write this with great pain, having been one of his most enthusiastic voters, that Obama have greatly disappointed me. Every time he's challenged, his instinct is to search for compromise and immediately offer a middle path. The Republicans well understand this and took evermore extreme positions, knowing that Obama would immediately offer half of what they wanted, so as to drive him to concede more and more to obtain a settlement. And in fact the plan that just passed contains at least 80 percent of what Republicans wanted. In the case of the national debt, while many economists assert that the U.S. economy needs government spending to stimulate growth and raise employment - and tackle the problem of the debt as a later stage when the economy is stronger. But the new plan does precisely the opposite: it cuts large amounts of government spending, especially for the middle class - including pensions, unemployment subsidies, Medicare spending - without a dollar of new taxes for the wealthy, the only category that benefitted during this period of Republican hegemony.


If the Republicans were a little more serious about wanting to confront the debt problem, they would have eliminated at least some of the absurd tax loopholes - like the measure that allows corporations to subtract the purchase of private jets from their taxes, or the one that allows hedge fund executives to pay only 15 percent of their income in taxes - less than their secretaries. The lack of seriousness in the plan evidently failed to satisfy markets - which have dropped about 10 percent in the past month. And now Standard & Poor’s has downgraded U.S. Treasury bonds due to the dysfunction of our government.


Obama and Berlusconi: Happier Days.


Huanqiu, China: Before Preaching to Others, U.S. Must Reform Itself
Asahi Shimbun, Japan: Washington Must Act to Strengthen Dollar
Magyar Nemzet Konyvek, Hungary: 'No Faith Left in America'
Publico, Spain: Petrodollars to Petro-What?
People's Daily, China: China Still Has No Choice But to Hold Dollar Assets
Guardian, U.K.: S&P Strips U.S. of its AAA Credit Rating
Die Zeit, Germany: Wealthy Americans Get Off 'Scot-Free'
Die Welt, Germany: The Diminishing Power of Money
O Globo, Brazil: Deal on U.S. Debt Ceiling Shows American 'Strength'
Yomiuri Shimbun: For World's Sake, Obama Must 'Provide Leadership'
CRI, China: U.S. Must Consider 'Defects' in its Democratic System
UNT, Sweden: U.S. Must Choose Practical Patriotism Over Party Tactics
FTD, Germany: Take Decisive Action on Debt Ceiling! Do it, Barack!
La Jornada, Mexico: The 'Grand Debt' of U.S. Families
Jornal Do Brasil, Brazil: American Default and the End of 'Zero Risk'
The Telegraph, U.K.: World Needs America to Come to its Senses
El Pais, Spain: Playing Chicken is the World's Newest Sport
Mainichi Shimbun, Japan: U.S. Must Prevent Another 'Made in U.S.' Disaster
Yomiori Shimbun, Japan: U.S. Lawmakers Should 'Stop Playing Political Games'
Yezhednevniy Zhurnal, Russia: The U.S. and Soviets: Pyramid Builders to Raiders
Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany: 'Radical' Republicans Threaten U.S. with Ruin
Tiscali Notizie, Italy: The Fiscal Decline of the 'Apocalypse'
News, Switzerland: Notion: 'Pay Politicians Based on Performance'
Salzburger Nachrichten, Austria: Debt Ceiling Attack By Republicans 'Backfires'
Gazeta, Russia: America's Astonishing 'Battle for the Ceiling'
People's Daily, China: U.S. Game of Chicken Threatens Creditors and Economy
Die Zeit, Germany: U.S. Risks 'Plunging World' Into New Financial Crisis
O Globo, Brazil: Global Economy Hangs on 'Mood' of U.S. Voters
The Telegraph, U.K.: Down on the Fourth of July: The United States of Gloom
Financial Times Deutschland, Germany: For Americans, a Dour Independence Day
Financial Times Deutschland, Germany: Who Cares about the U.S. Economy?
Folha, Brazil: U.S. Conservatives Threaten to Plunge U.S. into 'Lost Decade'

Bookmark and Share


The only positive aspect: the severity of the crises has created a sense that some government action is necessary to avoid a second recession. So the possibility for a new stimulus plan does exist. In the short, Republicans have won the battle over the debt, but come away with some bruises: 72 percent of Americans disapprove of their approach, while “only” 47 percent disapprove of how Obama acted. So the ugly reaction of the markets has put Obama back in the game.


It really makes one laugh, however, to have heard Berlusconi's response to how the Milan stock market plummeted. He encouraged the public to buy Mediaset stocks - as if he were a securities dealer rather than prime minister of the entire country - and, without laughing as the stock market collapsed - he tells the entire world that, “the international credibility Italy enjoys is due to the fact that at the head of government is a tycoon.”   



At this point, Berlusconi’s detachment from reality, his way of locking himself away inside his narcissistic dream - is complete. The rest of the world, both countries with conservative governments and those with leftist ones, watch Berlusconi with a mixture of horror, astonishment and mirth. Everything is collapsing around him, and he always talking about how he's the savior of the country.



blog comments powered by Disqus















































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US Aug. 10, 5:29am]


Bookmark and Share