Silvio! Salutes -- Himself, Of Course
To me -- and I don't think I'm alone -- one hallmark of These Days™ we're living through is the slow, steady erosion of things based on illusion, and lies.
The financial Bubble was spun out of caviar wishes and champagne dreams; it was a manipulation of each stage of the process from real estate sales to loan origination to the packaging of CDOs and pushing them on investors, by rentiers -- persons who
play no productive role in the economy themselves but who monopolize the access to physical assets, financial assets and technologies. They make money not from producing anything new themselves, but purely from [possession] of property (which provides a claim to a revenue stream)... (Wikipedia).
For the past three years, for some, this has become clearer. To other people, that same dawning clarity is threatening on a visceral level, an aberration.
This has been a global game, and in Europe, the results are the same -- political, corporate and financial illusions are beginning to come apart like the legendary cheap suit. And nowhere has the Illusory State been more pronounced than Italy, where a working Center-Right coalition in its Parliament has given the country its longest-lasting, most stable government in fifty years.
However, "stable" is a relative term. Silvio !'s government has been marred by accusations of corruption (expected in Italy, which has been a Kleptocracy on some level for centuries) and mismanagement, which Berlusconi's coalition was supposed to change.
Unfortunately, that coalition was brokered by a narcissistic Oligarch, pompous and vainglorious -- the Latin version of Sad Vlad The Putin: Silvio!
And unfortunately for Little Silvio, after besting his detractors and enemies and remaining the Prime Minister of that near-failed state, now the world's financial crisis is coming home -- to live with his people.
Not Silvio -- he's a bunga-bunga billionaire; personally, he'll be very comfortable. The Italian people? Not so much. And that could spell the end for Little Silvio's reign as the Clown Prince Of the European Union.
From today's New York Times:
In his narrowest escape yet, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi barely survived a confidence vote on Friday, saving his government from collapse but leaving it all but incapable of legislating effectively.
With 316 votes for and 301 votes against, Mr. Berlusconi’s center-right coalition won the vote. But it failed to secure a solid majority, making it increasingly difficult for him to pass legislation aimed at protecting Italy from Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. Had he lost, Mr. Berlusconi would have had to resign, marking the end of an 18-year political era in which the billionaire businessman shaped Italian politics in his own image, entwining the country’s fate with his own.
...the Berlusconi government was now hanging by a thread and could fall at the next bump in the road — when enough disgruntled lawmakers from within Mr. Berlusconi’s coalition calculate that they would be safer jumping off a sinking ship rather than staying aboard and risking drowning...
Since 2009, the European debt crisis has felled governments in Ireland, Portugal and Slovakia, led to early elections in Spain and a cabinet reshuffle in Greece. So far, Mr. Berlusconi has proven to be a tough outlier — not least because the European Central Bank in August agreed to buy Italian debt. But the bank did this in exchange for promised structural changes that the government has not yet carried out, a mix of tax increases and changes to the pension system...
This week, opposition leaders — and the president of Italy, in an unusually strong statement — told Mr. Berlusconi that surviving a confidence vote was not the same as governing... the center-left opposition has repeatedly called on Mr. Berlusconi to step down.. [and] repeatedly accused Mr. Berlusconi of buying the votes of would-be dissidents within his own center-right coalition.
On Friday, Mr. Berlusconi was saved by loyalists who prefer to have the government limp along rather than fall and potentially be replaced by a group of nonpolitical technocrats with a mandate to carry out the structural changes including tax increases, changes to the pension system and a growth stimulus bill now deadlocked in Parliament.
Foreign investors and many of Italy’s business leaders hope for such a technical government, but lawmakers have resisted out of fears of losing power.