by Nani Beccalli Falco
Self-inflicted damage must be remedied personally. The lack of growth in Italy is endemic and is not the fault of the euro, European policies or German selfishness, but rather decades of populist politics during which we didn’t worry about new technologies, efficient use of the workforce, education and bureaucratic reform. The result has been a period of ten years – from 2001 to 2011 – of negative growth, last place in Europe in terms of direct foreign investment and entry into the group of countries in decline, within a Europe that, today, travels at three different speeds.
Germany, Nordic countries and those in the East are experiencing growth rates which are not thrilling, but still capable of sustaining their economies and guaranteeing sufficient fiscal revenues; France and Great Britain are languishing; while Italy, Spain and Portugal are in decline, not to mention Greece. Anyone working abroad, or even just in contact with foreigners, is well aware how much confidence in the Italian economy fell just a few short months ago.
The German government has never said that it does not want to invest in the rest of Europe. It merely stated that it does not want to throw its money away and it has already spent huge sums for the Greek bail-out. Europe and foreign investors can only help if the efforts to regain credibility initiated in recent months are brought to fruition. In other words, if the recent reforms are implemented and we accept to suffer for a certain amount of time in exchange for a better future. Only then will we be able to attract foreign capital.
Reduction in the spread could also result from positive behavior on our part, not from miraculous eurobonds that Germany objectively has no reason to accept. Once confidence has been restored, the markets will once again look at the specific situation and strong points of an economy, such as Italy’s, that would be richer and with more equitable distribution compared to countries which, today, keep us company in the group of the most problematic.
*Nani Beccalli Falco is president and managing director of General Electric for Europe and northern Asia, as well as managing director of GE Germany. Along with Antonio Calabrò, he has recently published Il riscatto. L’Italia e l’industria internazionale, published by Università Bocconi editore.