Alberto Bagnai, a professor at Pescara university with a blog called Goofynomics, this week made a typically provocative demand: that the US should promote a controlled end to the euro.
“Undoing the euro will be costly, though less costly than its alternative which is protracted stagnation of the European and hence the world economy, and the growing risk of a major financial collapse,” he wrote.
Such views have made Bagnai a rare Eurosceptic in Italian academia. Detractors say he leads a “small sect” with “peculiar” views. Yet Bagnai believes the idea that Italy should ditch the euro – possibly dealing a fatal blow to the single currency – is gaining traction.
“I’ve been saying this stuff for seven years, and little by little it’s becoming mainstream,” he says. “Italy is wounded and the hegemonic powers – France and Germany – are buying it up piece by piece. This operation is almost colonial.”
Most Italian economists, government officials and business executives have been staunch advocates of the euro. The public also remains in favour: opinion polls suggest that most support remaining in the single currency despite growing reservations about the EU in general.
All the same, there is little doubt that the ground is shifting in Rome, with debate over Italy’s future in the currency bloc and a possible “Italexit” gathering pace at what euro supporters fear is an alarming pace.
“These days Italexit scenarios are very fashionable but they give me the chills,”Pier Carlo Padoan, Italy’s finance minister, said on Saturday, adding that those promoting such a concept “had no idea of the economic, social and cultural damage that would hit our citizens”.
Debate over the future of the euro in Italy mirrors that in other European countries where anti-euro politicians have built up solid support bases. Dutch populist Geert Wilders stood in Wednesday’s Netherlands election on a platform that included ditching the euro, while Marine Le Pen has said that, if elected French president, she would lead the country out of the currency bloc.
Article by the Irish Times / (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017)
Photo by Moyan_Brenn