Silvio Berlusconi Is Making Sense

A blog about business and economics.
June 1 2012 10:56 AM

Silvio Berlusconi Is Making Sense

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Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reacts during a press conference on May 25, 2012 at the senate in Rome.

Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/GettyImages

Nobody likes Silvio Berlusconi except for the Italian electorate, so the world largely shrugged when the European Central Bank and the government of Germany perpetrated a coup d'état last year and removed Italy's prime minister from office as a condition for not destroying the Italian economy. So the man's got a chip on his shoulder about the ECB and Angela Merkel and his comments should be read in that spirit. That said, he's right about this:

Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Italy should say “ciao, euro” if the European Central Bankdoesn’t start printing money to tackle the debt crisis and Germany should quit the single currency if it won’t back a bolder role for ECB.
“The economic crisis can’t be solved” in Italy, Berlusconi said in comments posted on his party’s website today. He called on Prime Minister Mario Monti to “change his political line” and lobby European leaders to back a money- printing campaign by the Frankfurt-based ECB. If the central bank doesn’t become a “lender of last resort,” Italy should say “ciao, euro,” the former premier said.
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Something I note about this is that it's much better to leave the eurozone before your country's economy is totally wrecked. Back a week and a half ago when everyone was focused on Greece would have been a great time for the Spanish government to take the world by surprise, announce a bank holiday, start dedenominating all accounts and debts, and impose capital controls. Instead they dawdled and capital flight keeps happening at an accelerated pace.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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