Because Italy is more than a geographic expression..

Alessi S.P.A. US

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Italian Particularism

We often hear of "American exceptionalism." In Italy, one could say "Italian particularism."

The beauty about Italy is it's one of the last industrialized nation to hold out and give into the the global network by maintaining a loyalty to artisanship. It makes for one of the more interesting - and increasingly obsolete given world economic realities apparently - economies in the world in my opinion.

David Segal of the NYT asks, "Is Italy too Italian?"

Does ketchup taste too much like ketchup?

Hey, I'll welcome the piece to the extent the North American media far too often ignores Italy's scientific, manufacturing and industrial exploits choosing instead to cling on to tried and tested stereo-typical cliches while focusing on food and fashion.

It's become predictable and tiresome.


This part in the article linked above caught my eye because I too argued grouping Italy with Greece, Portugal and even Spain is not only misleading but suggests the all-too-willing acceptance of grouping these nations as if they have the same economy. They don't.

"Study the numbers and you will find symptoms of distress that look a lot like those of Greece. Public sector debt amounts to roughly 118 percent of the gross domestic product, nearly identical to Greece. And like Greece, Italy is trying to ease fears in the euro zone and elsewhere with an austerity package, one intended to cut the deficit in half, to 2.7 percent of G.D.P., by 2012.

But dig a little deeper and the similarities end. The Italians, unlike the Greeks, are born savers, and much of the Italian debt is owned by the Italians. That means that unlike Greece, which will be sending a sizable percentage of its G.D.P. to foreign creditors for a generation to come, Italy is basically in hock to its own citizens.

“I know that in the States, all Mediterranean countries get lumped together,” says Carlo Altomonte, an economist with Bocconi University in Milan. “But Italy’s problem isn’t that we have a lot of debt. It’s that we don’t grow.”

The author goes on to argue in Italy the problem isn't debt but economic growth - and that's something many Western nations face.

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