A Big Swirling Italian Mess

Extend & Pretend, Italian-Style

An Ungovernable Mess

Strange Brew

It’s Not Just Italy

Washington DC, New York, Atlanta, and Florida

“Move to Italy. They know about living in debt: They don’t care.”

– John Lydon

“Italians were eating with a knife and fork when the French were still eating each other.”

– Mario Batali

Italians are headed to the polls this Sunday (and thus this letter is reaching you a little earlier than usual) – but no one is quite sure what is on the ballot. On the surface, the voters are considering whether to approve constitutional reforms that should make the government operate more effectively (or not, depending on your point of view). But many people think the real question is whether the current government should stay in power and whether Italy should remain yoked to the Eurozone.

Coming up with an answer isn’t necessarily helpful when you can’t even agree on the question. However Italians vote, it may take some time to figure out exactly what the result means to Italy, the Eurozone, the EU, and the global economy. I am fairly confident that the ultimate outcome won’t be good, no matter what they choose. The problems are deeper than simple structural reform can cure.

Before we wade into the weeds on this topic, please understand, I love Italy. I love the culture, the people, the food, the beautiful art and architecture, and the heritage the country has bestowed on all of Western civilization. Some of the best moments of my life happened in Italy. I wish nothing but joy to the country and all its people. But politically and economically, Italy is an ungovernable mess heading straight for a Greek-style banking and debt crisis – but with an Italian flare.