The man tapped to head a neutral government in Italy after two populists failed in their bid is a former official at the IMF who is a firm believer in the euro and in the necessity of Italy cutting its stubbornly high-debt load.
Carlo Cottarelli, an economist, has previous government experience under the short-lived center-left government of Enrico Letta, was chosen to identify areas where government spending could be trimmed. He found 32 billion euros (US$37.25 billion) in cuts, but left embittered when the government soon changed hands at the obstacles he found within the bureaucracy resisting cuts.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella yesterday tapped Cottarelli to try to form a government that can bring Italy to a new election, which Cottarelli said could come as early as this autumn.
In his first remarks, Cottarelli sought to calm markets and Italy’s European partners, assuring that his government would guarantee “prudent” management of Italy’s debt, which at 132 percent of GDP is Europe’s heaviest after Greece.
While vowing to press Brussels to respond to the concerns of Italians, Cottarelli said that any such dialogue must be in “full recognition that as a founding country of the European Union, our role in the union is essential, as is our continued participation in the eurozone.”
Cottarelli received an undergraduate degree in economics and banking from the University of Siena and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics. He worked seven years at the Bank of Italy and then one at oil company Eni, both in research positions, before heading to the IMF, where he worked for 25 years, specializing in monetary policy, capital markets and fiscal affairs.
Since October, he has headed an observatory on Italian public accounts at the Catholic University of Milan, where he has a healthy Twitter feed of 15,000 followers.
He recently wrote a book titled The Seven Capital Sins of the Italian Economy, which might be read as a mission statement for a new government. He lists the sins as corruption, tax evasion, bureaucratic mire, the slow pace of justice, the low birth rate, the gap between north and south and the difficult acceptance off the euro.
In his current role, Cottarelli has made frequent appearances in Italian media to evaluate the fiscal plans of the populist parties that had hoped to form a government together, the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement and the euroskeptic League.
Their attempts to form a government foundered on insistence on an economics minister with anti-euro views, which Italy’s president said put Italians’ savings and investments at risk.
Cottarelli told Italy’s Radio Radicale two weeks ago that the two parties’ primary error was “making people in some way believe that without the euro, all problems would disappear... Now they are trying to say that we are genetically incompatible with the euro.”
He rejected that argument saying Italy is not structurally weaker than Germany, but that the message needed to be underlined that “if we want to share currency, we need to behave in a different way.”
He said that Italy’s inflation level is currently below Germany’s, making Italy more competitive industrially.
“To abandon the thing at this point seems to me to be a mistake,” he said.
VULNERABLE: Many women do not report sexual harassment by their landlord over fears they could lose the roof over their head, an expert said A growing number of landlords are asking tenants for sex in exchange for housing as COVID-19 lockdowns and job cuts have left many struggling to pay their rent, housing experts said. A survey by the National Fair Housing Alliance of more than 100 fair housing groups combating discrimination across the US found that 13 percent had seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints during the pandemic. “If I did not have sex with him, he was going to put me out,” one woman facing eviction by her property manager told the alliance in an podcast on its Web site. “As a single
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for
Former US vice president Joe Biden on Friday said he “should not have been so cavalier” after he told a radio host that African Americans who back US President Donald Trump “ain’t black.” In a call with the US Black Chamber of Commerce that was added to his public schedule, Biden said he would never “take the African American community for granted.” “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” Biden said. “No one should have to vote for any party based on their race or religion or background.” Biden faced criticism after his comments earlier on Friday on The Breakfast Club, a