July 31, 2010

"Is Italy Too Italian?"

"Is Italy Too Italian?" asks David Segal in the NYT, as he, in part, lays out the usual chatter from economists about how Italy is doomed because it hasn't embraced globalization fully enough, chatter I've been reading for the last 35 years about how Italy is going to collapse because it's not getting with the program. Segal's article contrasts an Italian mill owner who is crusading for a truth-in-labeling law that would require that garments labeled "Made in Italy" be actually, you know, made in Italy versus the advice of global economists:
Economists said that Mr. Barbera had a point, but they also said that worrying about this issue was like fretting about the head cold of a patient with Stage 3 cancer. They see a country with a service sector dominated by guilds, which don’t just overcharge but also raise the barriers to entry for the millions in ill-fated manufacturing jobs who might otherwise find work as, for instance, taxi drivers. They see a timid entrepreneur class. They see a political system in the thrall of the older voters who want to keep what they have, even if it dooms the nation to years of stasis.

They see a society whose best and brightest are leaving and not being replaced by immigrants, because Italy has so little upward mobility to offer.

If economists were running things in Italy, all those "millions in ill-fated manufacturing jobs" would already have had to "otherwise find work as, for instance, taxi drivers." And the rest could have gotten jobs at fast food restaurants.

Why won't Italians get with the program and outsource their entire manufacturing base to China and their Italian restaurant industry to Taco Bell?

Subversively, however, Segal stops to note that, no matter how badly Italy violates Contemporary Economic Theory 101 by refusing to go down the cheap labor route, his lying eyes tell him the place looks pretty good. He describes Signor Barbera's mill, which produces the world's finest wool fabric for men's suits, in loving detail. And, Italy hasn't blown up the world economy, at least not yet:
Since the economic crisis began, this country has regularly turned up on the informal list of Nations That Worry Europe. ... 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.”  ...

A sclerotic job market is a major reason that the Italian economy has been all but dormant for the past decade, growing far more slowly than its European peers. And this is a country that never had a housing bust or a major bank crisis.

They've haven't? That's downright un-American of them.
So how does Italy keep going? Given the numbers, you expect it to be flat on its back. But when you visit, there are hardly any signs of despair ...

One answer is the black economy, say economists. Roughly one-quarter of Italy’s G.D.P. is off the books. When you inquire about the cause and persistence of this longstanding fact of life, people here say that most Italians have little sense of national identity, an obstacle to a system of national taxation. The country didn’t really begin to transcend its clannish roots and regional dialects until after World War II; even today, displays of national pride are reserved for World Cup victories and little else....
The suspicion of Italians when it comes to extra-familial institutions explains why many here care more about protecting what they have than enhancing their wealth. Most Italians live less than a mile or two from their parents and stay there, often for financial benefits like cash and in-kind services like day care.

Something needs to be done about this!
It’s an insularity that runs all the way up to the corporate suites. The first goal of many entrepreneurs here isn’t growth, so much as keeping the business in the family. For a company to really expand, it needs capital, but that means giving up at least some control. So thousands of companies here remain stubbornly small — all of which means Italy is a haven for artisans but is in a lousy position to play the global domination game. 

Those damn Italians, always refusing to play the global domination game. We ought to shoot some cruise missiles at them, just on general principles.

You know, I'm starting to rethink this whole High Trust = Good / Low Trust = Bad paradigm, which I've been guilty of pushing. Maybe we Americans could learn a little from the wisdom of the Italians. They've been an advanced, urbanized civilization for thousands of years, and maybe they've learned a thing or two about whom you can trust in the long run.

127 comments:

Anonymous said...

A sclerotic job market is a major reason that the Italian economy has been all but dormant for the past decade, growing far more slowly than its European peers




When did a rapidly growing economy became the chief, even the only, public good? One that every other aspect of human existence must be subordinated to? Sometime in the 1970's as far as I can see.

Anonymous said...

Italy is high European, devoutly Catholic, familialistic, etc., etc. Good antibodies for the "'Free Market' is God" disease that is sweeping the world, with America heading up the Crusade. The Obama "Let Men do this for Men" Crusade will not "take" on such soil.Too many ancient wisdoms about...

BTW, you ought to check out George Parkin Grant, a "Red Tory" Canadian philosopher. Interesting thesis about America's role in pushing a new kind of relativism (than Nietzsche's) that is backed by technology and an actual (not spiritual in any way) will to power.

Thank you for your columns!

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's too anti-Semitic.

Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

Dear Mr. Sailer, thanks for your great column.

Please read George Parkin Grant's Wikipedia page and check out some of his philosophic work.

America is part of the problem, but not in the way the liberals/radicals would have us think...

one quarter Italian said...

Italy is an interesting place in that it should be a godawful mess, but if you actually go there things don't seem too bad. This has been noted by several people but no one has come up with a convincing explanation of why doing stuff that kills other countries don't have too bad an effect in Italy.

Italy was only united in the 1860s (but arguably the same could be said with us), however before that a third of the country had been under Hapsburg or Savoyard rule, which was administratively as efficient as anywhere else in Europe. The southern third of the country was a Bourbon kingdom that was a hopeless mess and had been that way at least since the thirteenth century. There had been periodic attempts at reform since that time, all of which had failed. Other countries that have tried to absorb relatively large backward areas have had major problems, even the Germans in the 1990s.

Most Italian immigrants to the US came from the backward southern part.

one quarter Italian said...

They get a bad rap for the forty or so short-lived governments in the forty or so years of the First Republic following World War II. But this was a single coalition of the Christian Democrats and a few smaller parties. Sometimes the smaller parties would change, but generally speaking the same politicians were in each of these cabinets, they just swapped jobs every few months. It there was a problem, it was actually too much stability. And Japan had essentially the same system, they rotated the fairly weak Prime Minister position around different factions of the Liberal Democrats (itself a merger of several separate parties) every couple years.

There seem to be alot of people living (and not living too badly) off of government and less visible means of support, and alot of adult children living with their parents. But this might help them if it turns out that the by now traditional 9 to 5 job is disappearing due to automation and increasingly lengthy recessions. They might have already made the adjustment that everyone else will have to make.

The current PM is a genuinely cynical political operator who seems to be in politics only to make more money and to stay out of jail. But his coalition tends to collapse, Italian style, when he goes too far, so while this guy is an embarrassment maybe the have neutralized them.

Anonymous said...

Italians produce the kind of stuff hardly anyone in the world would desire.

Anonymous said...

I'm in Taiwan, studying robotics and precision manufacturing.

Let me tell you that I got a big shock when I found out that Italy is a world leading in both!

I had thought Italy was a worn-out tourist trap. Nope! They compete with the Germans and the Japanese in the precision manufacturing sector!

Plus, they got a little town called Ivrea, where they invented a little gizmo called an Arduino. It's really fashionable with the robot-building guys.

Dave said...

"For a company to really expand, it needs capital, but that means giving up at least some control. So thousands of companies here remain stubbornly small — all of which means Italy is a haven for artisans but is in a lousy position to play the global domination game."

Outside capital isn't the only way for a company to expand. There's this old fashioned concept of earning profits and reinvesting them in your own business, and great companies can get huge that way over a few generations. Northern Italy has some high quality companies like that.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the Enlightenment will do them in in the end. The cult of the individual and his inalienable "rights" spawned, in the twentieth century, self-actualization movements like feminism, which spread through the (now late great) western world. in Italy, that has translated into a suicidal demographic profile.

On the whole, the model which valorizes the family over the individual is superior. Americans, who fear age and don't particular care about their parents, lock them up in assisted living communities.

Anonymous said...

Theodore Dalrymple has an essay in "Our Culture, What's Left of It" (highly recommended if you haven't read it) on the contrasts in high-trust welfare state Britain and low-trust Italy. The gist is that in Italy, everyone knows everything is corrupt, expectations for the government are very low, you pay a few bribes, take care of yourself and your own, enjoy your life, and that's about it.

I think he said it's one of the happiest places he's seen, in contrast to welfare state catastrophe Britain.

James said...

Not only is Italy going to perish of its own economic contradictions (unlike globalist powerhouses like, um, Iceland), but Belgium is going to split into two utterly irreconcilable nations ANY MINUTE NOW.

I know this because a TIME journalist told me so at great length last week. And last month. And in 2005. And in 2000. And in 1995. And in 1990. And in 1985. And in 1980. Come to think of it, I started reading the newspapers around the time that, by coincidence, Belgian universities started having some serious language riots (1971?). Belgium was going to split into two nations any minute back then, also.

Reminds me of the old MAD MAGAZINE cartoon where the caption says "'We will march onto the mainland and we will destroy the Reds!', Chiang Kai-Shek promised his troops for the 16th successive year."

Once in Belgium I was harangued boringly and almost endlessly by some economics policy wonk who assured me that the trouble with Belgium was that it wasn't like, you know, Wall Street. I refrained from pointing out to him that if he wanted to live in a place like Wall Street he could just go and live in Wall Street. But I doubt if any remarks of mine would have registered.

No doubt he has his equivalents in Italy, utterly p.o.'d with the fact that parts of Italy remain obstinately Italian.

Anonymous said...

Is Italy too Italian?

With a fertility rate of 1.3, Italy will be practically devoid of Italians in 50 years.

That's really not being Italian enough.

persona au gratin said...

Great column. Exasperation generates great humor.
My own inclination is to low trust, but I come from Germano-Celto-Anglo stock; nobody else I'm related to feels the same way. Personally I'd like to see things move back a little towards village insularity, which ironically is what environmentalists want too. Either that or I'll have to dream up a crazy cult like Mormonism, with polygamy of course.

Anonymous said...

BNYTRL Bike New York Times Readers Like.
Italian copy.

Dave said...

American economists also think about manufacturing in American terms: mass-marketed mediocrity that's interchangeable with any other country's production. Italy is different, because it has a brand and a reputation for high quality craftsmanship and artistic design when it comes to sports cars, suits, industrial espresso machines, firearms, etc. As long as it maintains that reputation, there's no reason for its manufacturing jobs to be "ill-fated". There's no cachet to a Chinese suit or sports car.

jack strocchi said...

Steve S. said:

"Is Italy Too Italian?" asks David Segal in the NYT, as he lays out the usual chatter from economists about how Italy is doomed because it hasn't embraced globalization fully enough, chatter I've been reading for the last 35 years about how Italy is imminently going to collapse because it's not getting with the program.

The Italian economy's obstinate refusal to lay down before the juggernaut of liberal globalisation reminds me of that Michael Corleone quote about Hyman Roth's alleged heart problems portending his imminent demise: "[He's] been dying from the same heart attack for the last twenty years."

Post-modern liberals, whether Right-liberal globalists or Left-liberal multiculturalists, always talk as if their program is a done deal and that the only obstacle to progress is the benighted attempts of bigots to cling to their reactionary way of life.

We've had 20+ years of post-modern liberalism and all we have to show for it is 911 and the GFC. Time to show these frauds the door.

LBK said...

Steve, I agree completely. Economists are fools with tunnel vision who only understand theory and know nothing of the real world. It is a mistake to follow their advice.

And this world-domination stuff is highly overrated. Why should I care if the country I live in dominates the world? How does that improve my life? It doesn't. The Italians learned that lesson long ago. We should learn it too.

And what's wrong with wanting to preserve what you have? That makes sense to me. Why should growth (the holy grail of the economists) be the only goal? Growth at all costs, growth for the sake of growth, is foolish. It needs to be balanced with other values.

The Italians understand this. They realize there is more to life than making money. They might not be the worlds richest country, but they have a high quality of life. We can learn from them.

Anonymous said...

Senor Kimmelman & Senorita Coen could help Herr Segal solving the Italian Problem.

jack strocchi said...

Steve S. quotes NYT liberal reading the litany of Italian sins:

They see a country with a service sector dominated by guilds, which don’t just overcharge but also raise the barriers to entry for the millions in ill-fated manufacturing jobs who might otherwise find work as, for instance, taxi drivers. They see a timid entrepreneur class. They see a political system in the thrall of the older voters who want to keep what they have, even if it dooms the nation to years of stasis. They see a society whose best and brightest are leaving and not being replaced by immigrants, because Italy has so little upward mobility to offer.

All this is true but "'twas ever thus". One bad thing that Italy must stop is to give its young people more job opportunities so that they stay at home and make more Italians. The birth-rate has tanked.

There is a global shortage of Italians and nobody seems to care!

So much of Italian income is derived from tourism. Since tourism is a superior good it is unlikely to dry up fast. Every one can make extra bucks by hiring their apartment out to some tourists for the summer and living with mama/papa.

Stan said...

Italy sounds like a ggod place to live. Do they accept immigrants from America?

Chief Seattle said...

The best profession in the world is the one where you produce "Dollars" out of thin air and the rest of the world competes for them. If the bankers can't entice people into debt with "growth" then they can't skim the interest and then crush them in default. Having succeeded in converting Americans from self sufficient farmers and tradesmen to debt slaves in two generations, the David Segal's of the world need to set their sites on the limited game still left.

Whiskey said...

Dalrymple made the same observation. He noted that the modern Welfare State that corrodes England and the Scandinavians and even the French, is impossible in Italy because no one has or will trust the government to do anything, and cheat on taxes like crazy. Figuring it is their money.

Northern Italy is reasonably industrial, with some winners on the high end like Ferrari, and Ducati, and the fashion folks, and some fine watches, and firearms manufactures, the latter mostly in business since the 1440's as family owned firms (they continue that today).

Southern and Central Italy are a mess, filled with Chinese and North African illegal aliens, the Camorra, Ndragheta, and Mafia basically shoved aside by more ruthless, numerous, and younger illegal immigrants. Agriculture which should and has dominated the area, is in decline. Illegal alien run sweatshops mostly Chinese Triad and North African gangs predominate.

Already in the South, Italians are being pushed out.

jack strocchi said...

Steve S. said:
You know, I'm starting to rethink this whole High Trust = Good / Low Trust = Bad paradigm, which I've been guilty of pushing. Maybe we Americans could learn a little from the wisdom of the Italians.
This reminds me of the famous scene in Catch-22 when Capt. Nately tries to convince the ancient Italian brothel-keeper who run's Nately's whore of the superiority of "the American Way of Life". Nately is an idealistic American officer who believes that American power is invincible and wants to take his whore back to America away from Italy's corrupt and decadent ways. The Italian brothel-keeper begs to differ about the superiority of American power and the inferiority of "the Italian Way of Life".
Old Italian brothel-keeper: You all crazy!
Capt. Nately: Why are we crazy?
Old Italian brothel-keeper: Because you don't know how to stay alive and that's the secret of life.
Capt. Nately: But we have a war to win.
Old Italian brothel-keeper: But America will lose the war. Italy will win it.
Capt. Nately: America's the strongest nation on earth. The American fighting man is the best trained, the best equipped, the best fed...
Old Italian brothel-keeper: Italy, on the other hand, is one of the weakest nations on earth and the ltalian fighting man is hardly equipped at all. That's why my country is doing so well while yours is doing so poorly.
Capt. Nately: That's silly! First ltaly was occupied by Germans and now by us. You call that doing well?
Old Italian brothel-keeper: Of course I do. The Germans are being driven out and we are still here. In a few years, you'll be gone and we'll still be here. Italy is a very poor, weak country, yet that is what makes us so strong, strong enough to survive this war and still be in existence long after your country has been destroyed.
Capt. Nately: What are you talking about? America's not going to be destroyed.
Old Italian brothel-keeper: Never?

Capt. Nately: Well...
Old Italian brothel-keeper: Rome was destroyed. Greece was destroyed. Persia was destroyed. Spain was destroyed. All great countries are destroyed. Why not yours? How much longer do you think your country will last? Forever?
Capt. Nately: Forever is a long time, I guess.
Old Italian brothel-keeper: Very long.

jack strocchi said...

[Nately's whore enters the room, hops onto Nately's lap and pesters him for sex.]

Capt. Nately: Please, we're talking.

Nately's whore: We go to bed now?

Capt. Nately: Would you go put some clothes on? You're practically naked.

[to the Old Italian brothel-keeper] I wish she wouldn't walk around like that.

Old Italian brothel-keeper: It is her business to walk around like that.

Capt. Nately: But it's not nice.

Old Italian brothel-keeper: Of course it's nice. She's nice to look at.

Capt. Nately: This life is not nice. I don't want her to do this.

Nately's whore: When we go to America, Nately? When we go to America, Nately?

Old Italian brothel-keeper: You will take her to America? Away from a healthy, active life? Away from good business opportunities? Away from her friends?

Capt. Nately: Don't you have any principles?

Old Italian brothel-keeper: Of course not!

Capt. Nately: No morality?

Old Italian brothel-keeper: I'm a very moral man, and Italy is a very moral country. That's why we will certainly come out on top again if we succeed in being defeated.

Capt. Nately: You talk like a madman.

Old Italian brothel-keeper: But I live like a sane one. I was a fascist when Mussolini was on top. Now that he has been deposed, I am anti-fascist. When the Germans were here, I was fanatically pro-German. Now I'm fanatically pro-American. You'll find no more loyal partisan in all of Italy than myself.

Capt. Nately: You're a shameful opportunist! What you don't understand is that it's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.

Old Italian brothel-keeper: You have it backwards. It's better to live on your feet than to die on your knees. I know.

Capt. Nately: How do you know?

Old Italian brothel-keeper: Because I am 107-years-old. How old are you?

Capt. Nately: I'll be 20 in January.

Old Italian brothel-keeper: If you live.

Chris said...

Ah, David Segal. He's that up-and-coming plucky Scots-Irish guy on the business desk, isn't he?

ATBOTL said...

The issue isn't high or low trust, it's how big the trusted group is. For Italians, it's family and region. For English speaking white people, it's now expected to be everyone in the whole world and if you don't, you're a racist.

Italy has a major immigration problem. Southern Europe as a whole is as bad as northern Europe in terms of percentage of non-Europeans at this point.

stari_momak said...

Those damn Italians, always refusing to play the global domination game. We ought to shoot some cruise missiles at them, just on general principles.

LULZ.

jody said...

stupid italians. content to manufacture extremely high quality cars and firearms, design stylish clothes, cook excellent food, and, backwardness of all backwardnesses (!), they actually want to keep italy for italians?!

italy desperately needs some mexicans and nigerians designing ferraris. how will ferrari ever grow it's sales if at least half of the ferrari executive staff does not come from a third world nation? only third worlders could ever possibly offer all that critical multicultural insight into how ferrari could do business in foreign nations.

perhaps now that fiat runs chrysler, italian engineers and businessmen can get that lesson in american diversity which they clearly so badly need. you know, the one where fiat is not bankrupt but chrysler is bankrupt. italians dealing with black american factory workers, that'll learn 'em.

heck, these economists are right! the nation of marconi and fermi would be vastly improved by turning it into a north african colony. lots of cheap labor and no more nobel science prizes - the ideal tradeoff.

Steve Johnson said...

Thanks Jack.

I was reminded of that same conversation when I read Steve's article.

Paul DeReno said...

Bravo! Steve's coming around!

2 Things, first, Birth Dearths are overrated. In any population, there are highly reproductive cohorts and low reproduction cohorts. And as populations decrease, larger families become more affordable. All that will happen is that the low-pop cohorts will die out while the general trend turns to higher birth and at some point, the trend reverses itself. We have 6 billion people in this world, far more than at any point in history. There is no rule saying it must perpetually grow and it can't perpetually grow.

2nd. Italy needs to team up with Germany, form an army, and get lots of nukes and a Doomsday Device. The apparatchicks who write for the Times aren't stupid. They know that they are the propaganda organs of modern economic warfare and the America-Fascist Complex will not blink before bombing them if that's what it takes to raid them.

Anonymous said...

One of the few points on which most (say >90%) of "economists" agree is "free trade". What none of you have discussed is the following general definition of 'free trade' (from Wikipedia):
"Free trade is a system of trade policy that allows traders to act and or transact without interference from government. According to the law of comparative advantage the policy permits trading partners mutual gains from trade of goods and services.
Under a free trade policy, prices are a reflection of true supply and demand, and are the sole determinant of resource allocation. Free trade differs from other forms of trade policy where the allocation of goods and services amongst trading countries are determined by artificial prices that may or may not reflect the true nature of supply and demand. These artificial prices are the result of protectionist trade policies, whereby governments intervene in the market through price adjustments and supply restrictions. Such government interventions can increase as well as decrease the cost of goods and services to both consumers and producers.
Interventions include subsidies, taxes and tariffs, non-tariff barriers, such as regulatory legislation and quotas, and even inter-government managed trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) (contrary to their formal titles) and any governmental market intervention resulting in artificial prices.
Most states conduct trade policies that are to a lesser or greater degree protectionist.[1] One ubiquitous protectionist policy employed by states comes in the form of agricultural subsidies whereby countries attempt to protect their agricultural industries from outside competition by creating artificial low prices for their agricultural goods.[2]"

In other words, we don't have anything remotely resembling 'free trade' because we don't really even observe such things as 'comparative advantage' (let alone lack of government interference or rational price setting). Now for the obvious leading question, Does a rural farmer in China really have a comparative advantage over a specialized 400 year old gun manufacturer in Italy? We all know the answer to that, but Pual Krugman thinks it's the rural farmer magically converted into the $1 a day gun laborer that enriches both China and Italy (he won a Nobel in economics for just that kind of thinking). No, common sense is just that, economics spends most of its time now rationalizing the unrationalizable; and I should know, I have a Ph.D. in an economics subfield and now teach it to university students. I never cease to be amazed at what passes as truth, when in fact, it is a lie. Therefore, again, Steve is more right than he knows, but mostly for reasons other than discussed as yet.

Anonymous said...

One of the few points on which most (say >90%) of "economists" agree is "free trade". What none of you have discussed is the following general definition of 'free trade' (from Wikipedia):
"Free trade is a system of trade policy that allows traders to act and or transact without interference from government. According to the law of comparative advantage the policy permits trading partners mutual gains from trade of goods and services.
Under a free trade policy, prices are a reflection of true supply and demand, and are the sole determinant of resource allocation. Free trade differs from other forms of trade policy where the allocation of goods and services amongst trading countries are determined by artificial prices that may or may not reflect the true nature of supply and demand. These artificial prices are the result of protectionist trade policies, whereby governments intervene in the market through price adjustments and supply restrictions. Such government interventions can increase as well as decrease the cost of goods and services to both consumers and producers.
Interventions include subsidies, taxes and tariffs, non-tariff barriers, such as regulatory legislation and quotas, and even inter-government managed trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) (contrary to their formal titles) and any governmental market intervention resulting in artificial prices.
Most states conduct trade policies that are to a lesser or greater degree protectionist.[1] One ubiquitous protectionist policy employed by states comes in the form of agricultural subsidies whereby countries attempt to protect their agricultural industries from outside competition by creating artificial low prices for their agricultural goods.[2]"

In other words, we don't have anything remotely resembling 'free trade' because we don't really even observe such things as 'comparative advantage' (let alone lack of government interference or rational price setting). Now for the obvious leading question, Does a rural farmer in China really have a comparative advantage over a specialized 400 year old gun manufacturer in Italy? We all know the answer to that, but Pual Krugman thinks it's the rural farmer magically converted into the $1 a day gun laborer that enriches both China and Italy (he won a Nobel in economics for just that kind of thinking). No, common sense is just that, economics spends most of its time now rationalizing the unrationalizable; and I should know, I have a Ph.D. in an economics subfield and now teach it to university students. I never cease to be amazed at what passes as truth, when in fact, it is a lie. Therefore, again, Steve is more right than he knows, but mostly for reasons other than discussed as yet.

Anonymous said...

You don't get comparative advantage?
Ok, go back to school.

Anonymous said...

Instead of ritually slagging off Italy, right do they do a piece about the poster child of 'economic liberalism' - the United Kingdom.
Let's see what 30 years of 'liberalism' have given it:

A bombed out maufacturing and industrial sector that has lost millions of jobs in the past decades.
A massive and intractable trade deficit - even admist the worst austerity in 80 years!
An economy 50% dependent on government spending (in Scotland and Wales the state counts for more spending than the old eastern bloc euro states!)
A massive program of spending cuts that will cause real hardship.
A 6% year-on-year decline in GDP.
The entire banking sector (which was supposed to be Britain's great white hope, utterly bankrupted and scrounging off taxpayers money).
Massive uncontrolled immigration, mostly of useless welfare dependent dolts and illiterates.
50% of all new births now being of non-white, non-British stock.

Yes, quite an achievement of 'liberalsm'!!!!

Anonymous said...

Steve,

OT, but you might be interested in these two stories from the NY Times's NYC-area local edition of black youths killing Hispanic immigrants.

The first article linked to there doesn't mention the race of the perpetrators at all, but here is a picture of one of them, Khayri Williams-Clark, who appears to belong to the African American social construct. That first article takes a generic "how could a horrible attack take place in an upscale suburb?" take on the killing.

The second article you might find more interesting, in that it is explicit about black-Mexican tensions (in Staten Island) and mentions that Mexican diplomats have gotten involved. Here are a couple of snippets from that second article,

"Mexico’s consul general, Rúben Beltrán, sent a representative on Monday to set up a neighborhood office and directly assist the Mexican population. The representative drives around in a car emblazoned with the phone number for a 24-hour, toll-free hot line and a message in Spanish that begins, “Mexican, know your rights.”

Since the representative arrived, several more Mexicans have told consulate officials that they, too, were victims of attacks but had been too fearful of deportation or retribution to come forward sooner, consulate officials said.

“There are all kinds of beatings that aren’t recorded,” Ms. Troia said. “People talk casually about this: ‘Oh, I got a dislocated shoulder’; ‘I lost my eye.’ ”"


The article quotes a local Baptist preacher,

"Black religious leaders and community activists say they often hear constituents complain that Mexicans and other Latinos have taken jobs that should have been theirs. “That’s a conversation that’s been going on,” Dr. Baker said. But, he added, some who have complained “are not going out to get jobs.”"

Anonymous said...

Although a low/no growth model for a liveable, pleasant country may be appealing in the short term, it is preferable to grow at globally competitive rates in the long term.

Stagnation over the course of decades will relegate any developed economy to a relative global backwater compared to the rest of the world.

Some argue by questioning 'at what point do we just say we have had enough growth?'

I believe this was the mindset of the Chinese empire at their height. However, in hindsight they really should have chosen to compete more aggressively with the West.

Anonymous said...

"We all know the answer to that, but Pual Krugman thinks it's the rural farmer magically converted into the $1 a day gun laborer that enriches both China and Italy (he won a Nobel in economics for just that kind of thinking)."

LOL! I'm glad charlatans are being awarded doctorates - I too shall "apply" for a few in that case.

Krugman's NTT doesn't state what you claim it states, nor does Krugman claim that a rural farmer in China can manufacture high-end guns.

Go read-up before spouting nonsense.

"No, common sense is just that, economics spends most of its time now rationalizing the unrationalizable; and I should know, I have a Ph.D. in an economics subfield and now teach it to university students. I never cease to be amazed at what passes as truth, when in fact, it is a lie."

Point me to a paper that debunks the NTT. I am equipped to understand the Math easily, so you don't need to hesitate in pointing me to abstruse Mathematical stuff.

AFAIK, it's a standard model now and there's nothing to suggest that it "rationalizes the unrationalizable" (which, if I interpret it correctly, makes all of economics worthless).

Anonymous said...

Geez, so they'd rather be Italian than a larger economy with more growth and don't care about growth that's meaningless to their own quality of life...

What's an economist to do? How inexplicable must it be to them that some people have no interest in turning their country into a vehicle for foreign people to find prosperity and view being themselves has more value than growth for its own sake.

Our economics is so predicated on this weird combination of rationalist individualism (where every individual seeks their own good) and utilitarianism (whereby economists seek the greater overall utility) with no room for any larger group than the individual and smaller than mankind.

Anonymous said...

If we are to care about growth, it should only ever be the growth in GDP per capita to our own citizens.

While the market can do what it likes, growth that occurs simply through building up the population should be systematically excluded from our own assessments of whether this or that politician or institution is worth voting for or maintaining. Population growth should be treated as a separate good, if it is to be treated as a good at all.

Chris said...

Italy comes in 8th place worldwide in the Economist's quality-of-life ranking, five places ahead of the U.S.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality-of-life_index

Israel comes in 38th. I'd say somebody needs to reevaluate their immigration policy, and it's not Italy.

dearieme said...

"The current PM is a genuinely cynical political operator who seems to be in politics only to make more money and to stay out of jail": that's how Disraeli started, and he worked out pretty well.

Anonymous said...

The issue is free trade vs. what we actually have. Krugman and most other economists have made models attempting to rationalize the patterns of trade and development that were observed over the last bubble period (or whatever you want to call it). All those models are strictly wrong. That is, one or more of their assumptions are wrong, so the results are strictly wrong (e.g., no taxes, free trade, etc.). For me, the more important question is, are the results close enough to reality to be of some practical use/help? Clearly, such things as the solution to too much debt being more debt, are just silly to even the average person (of which Krugman and other die-hard Keynesians, for example, subscribe). Many economists try to focus on the math (which tends to be a red herring), but it isn't the math that is wrong per say, it's the assumptions and what follows from those assumptions. Regarding theories of trade, they are not just wrong because of assumptions made that run contrary to reality, but often the economists imply they are right because there is no math error. Again, it's not the math, it's much deeper and more fundamental, it is often even the lack of common sense. For example, again, is the solution to too much debt more debt? Is the solution to specialized high end manufacturing in Italy or the U.S. to move it to China and have the formerly employed Italian specialists get jobs with the government (who will then need to borrow the money from the Chinese to pay for that person as he or she is now unemployed)? Only an idiot focuses on the math when basic logic suggests something is fundamentally wrong with the premises upon which a silly/ridiculous theory is made.

Anonymous said...

Anon on New Jersey murder:have a look at this. We to have murderous inter-ethnic violence.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrELYxLF64g

Warning:Video is disturbing.

Steve, what about this for a theory: The UK Scandinavia and much of the USA was until recently a high trust society, that is they practiced social and political neutrality.

But they also had small towns and villages, and in the cities, neighborhoods, which were much more intimate and friendly,(ok nosey and intrusive)

But where are we now?

Richard

Repetitively Anon said...

Perhaps the Italian black market is more of a free trade system than the bureaucratically managed (and quantified) American version. I've heard the black market in the U.S. is helping keep us afloat, too.

In the U.S., high trust and geographic mobility are interdependent.

Low trust areas tend to be those with massive family breakdown and female-headed households.

Low trust societies only work with a functioning family culture and responsible, involved males, i.e. patriarchy.

How does Italy's family culture compare to Mexican-Americans'?

David Davenport said...

Italy is different, because it has a brand and a reputation for high quality craftsmanship ...

Some of us remember all those high quality Fiats and Alfa Romeos Italia used to export to the US.

We're sure that Chrysler Fiat will be altogether different.

Henry Canaday said...

Try getting on a local train in Rome and noting that every square inch of window space is smeared with graffiti, as are almost all public buildings and the wall-surrounded houses of the well-off (but not churches and small shops). There are costs to a family-centered society with mistrusted public institutions.

Time and perspective let us see the double financial crises of the West, the U.S. in 2008 and Europe in 2009-2010, as essentially similar in their roots. Two decades of post-Cold War prosperity prompted governments to promise their citizens more than they could afford. In the U.S., because Federal deficits had been monitored so closely since the Reagan years, these excess promises took the form of unrealistically easy lending for homes. In Europe, some governments over-committed the old-fashioned way, through current public spending.

We are thus not dealing, at bottom, with some novel puzzle posed by new financial software or cutting-edge banking practices, but with the oldest problem of democracy, the one we are supposed to learn about in high school. Democracies let voters compel unsustainable benefits to voters.

Laban said...

The first goal of many entrepreneurs here isn’t growth, so much as keeping the business in the family.

Tangentially relevant : in the mid-90s, the largest private employer in the UK was Arnold Weinstock's GEC, an industrial conglomerate built up over years and boasting a billion-pound cash pile.

The general view of the financial media (doubtless primed by those who'd get fat fees from big mergers and takeovers) was that Arnold was, while a fine businessman, too old and too conservative, failing to seize the glorious opportunities out there and sitting on his cash like a hen on a bad egg.

In 1996 he retired and handed over to one George Simpson.

"GEC's empire once spanned everything from television sets and guided missiles to trains and gas turbines. Almost as legendary as the company's breadth was its £1bn cash pile which Lord Weinstock guarded with a jealousy bordering on the pathological.

But the seeds of Marconi's demise were sown in 1996 when Lord Weinstock relaxed his iron grip on the business he had so painstakingly built up and handed control to a new chief executive, George (later Lord) Simpson. Within two years, the Marconi defence electronics business had been sold to British Aerospace. A year later, the cash pile was frittered away on the ruinously expensive purchase of two US telecoms equipment companies. Three years after that, Marconi, now GEC, was a busted flush, its value crashing 95 per cent as the dot.com bubble burst."

Steve Sailer said...

Perhaps trust is so 1945ish.

In 1945 to win wars, you had to have a big, efficient army. To make phone calls, you had to have a big, efficient monopoly phone company.

Italians weren't very good at either. Maybe that won't be as important in 2011.

Laban said...

Re population growth : in the absence of mass immigration, a smaller working population should lead to higher wages.

For example, what pretty much wiped out serfdom in England was the Black Death :

"many serfs now chose to commute their labor services by money payments, to abandon the farm altogether, and to pursue more interesting in rewarding jobs in the skilled craft industries in the cities. This new vocational option was made possible by the Black Death.

The nobility suffered the greatest decline in power from this new state of affairs. Everywhere their rents were in steady decline after the plague."

Anonymous said...

"Maybe we Americans could learn a little from the wisdom of the Italians. They've been an advanced, urbanized civilization for thousands of years, and maybe they've learned a thing or two about whom you can trust in the long run."

Invite Don Corleone over for a cup of coffee sometime. You never know when you might need his services.

Anonymous said...

You often write stuff I disagree with but rarely do you just write stupid stuff.

This is just stupid stuff.

Italy outside the city centers in the North does not look prosperous at all. The instant you get out of the tourist zones -- or tours of successful factories arranged by the industrial board -- you see nothing but buildings that look like very bad American housing projects.

The people there live in what functional Americans would consider squalor. An illegal immigrant with no skills and no English but a little bit of diligence will quickly live in better conditions than a Northern Italian college graduate.

The reason their fertility rate is so damned low is that their so unproductive that no one under about 40 can afford a place to live, so they all live with their parents until they are well into their 30s.

And the houses they aspire to are about 600 square foot 60s highrise dumps. Most of them cannot afford a real car. Most of them can't afford to eat out, so all that wonderful Italian food is saved for the tourists.

And that's northern Italy, which looks like one of the world's rich places if you use raw GDP numbers. (The problem is raw GDP is meaningless. What you want to measure is PPP. You may earn $50,000 a year but that doesn't go far when a cheap shirt costs $90 because you don't outsource your unskilled labor to the Chinese and so some Italian guy gets paid $70 an hour to make a couple shirts.)

Everything south of Rome, an area that houses more than a third of Italy's population, looks every bit as poor as Mexico. It's also like Mexico in that gangs control all of it.

Trying knowing something -- just a little tiny bit -- before you spout off about the great lessons we have to learn from a crime-and-proverty stricken country that no one would ever visit but some really good food and for what it accomplished before 1700. Next you'll be telling us how much we have to learn from the low trust environment of Pakistan. They don't rely on their government their and they don't outsource their jobs to efficient people either. They're not even obsessed with growth and look how happy they are in their clans.

elvisd said...

I guess they don't buy that "If you're not growing, you're dying" mantra. A counter-maxim I once read:
"Growth for its own sake is the ideology of a cancer cell."

From the same writer: "Anarchy works. The Italians have proved it for a thousand years."

elvisd said...

Reminds me of the old MAD MAGAZINE cartoon where the caption says "'We will march onto the mainland and we will destroy the Reds!', Chiang Kai-Shek promised his troops for the 16th successive year."

LOL! My son still has my dog-eared copy of that issue!

anony-mouse said...

If someone wrote about a non-White group that acted like the Italians, Steve would be all over them complaining.

Oh well.

OhioStater said...

It's bizarre economists still think exporting manufacturing is a good thing. It's also bizarre they think the rat race of global domination is a good thing, especially since China will likely win that game. One of the 48 laws of power is disdain what you can't have; the Italians are doing a good job of that.

Anonymous said...

Instead of ritually slagging off Italy, right do they do a piece about the poster child of 'economic liberalism' - the United Kingdom.
Let's see what 30 years of 'liberalism' have given it: A bombed out maufacturing and industrial sector that has lost millions of jobs in the past decades. A massive and intractable trade deficit - even admist the worst austerity in 80 years!", etc.


Indeed. And in spite of Great Britain's more globalist policies, it and Italy are essentially neck and neck in terms of nominal per capita income, and have been so for quite some time. Apparently the Italians are doing something right.

Despite the "New Labour" appellation, the British Labour Party has effectively been run by Marxists and their fellow-travelers for quite some time. In fact the most likely next leader of Labour is David Miliband, the son of a Marxist theorist, whose brother also sits in the Labour Cabinet.

Odd, isn't it, that despite all the alleged need for "diversity," unlimited immigration, and an overgrown financial sector that those countries that haven't followed these policies are doing just as well (or better) than those who have? One thinks that their neocon advocates are better with rhetoric than with logic.

Italian from Tuscany said...

Very intelligent analysis from my favourite american journalist.
Only a note: national identity in Italy is sharing values and the links between persons, not the same in american terms.
In Italy the "national identity" is strong, very weak is, in contrast, the confidence toward the State: probably, I guess because the long foreign domination since the fall of the Roman Empire, in that period the "public power" was also, " a foreign power". And the suspicion survives the end of that dominations, is part of our national identity.

Anonymous said...

steve, now you are finally starting to break out of your "conservative" ideology and notice that we swim in a sea of ideological propaganda.

Smaller is better. Smaller is more homogeneous. Growth is good for the rich far more than for the masses. Italy is essentially a cluster of cities and neighborhoods and not a nation, which makes it hard to manipulate them on a national scale. Power is kept local, and on a local scale, the rich and powerful cannot wield as much power.


-cryofan

David Davenport said...

In 1945 to win wars, you had to have a big, efficient army. To make phone calls, you had to have a big, efficient monopoly phone company.


I guess they don't buy that "If you're not growing, you're dying" mantra. A counter-maxim I once read:
"Growth for its own sake is the ideology of a cancer cell."


The old hippies are coming out of the iSteve closet.

Fiat is a big corporation. Chrysler Fiat is an even bigger corporation. Successful automobile manufacturing requires economiers of scale. Smallness is not a virtue.

Ferrari and Maserati? They're bulit with Fiat or German made components under the hood and skin, and are dependent on the economies of scale of their parent companies.

A civilian army of Italians and Americans are depending on Chrysler Fiat for employment. Car manufacturing IS NOT a handicraft, cottage business.

Roger Chaillet said...

This is horseshit. All of the world's leading automobile manufacturers use Brembo brakes exclusively. http://www.brembo.com/US/Cars/

Cadillac uses O.Z. Wheels. http://blog.tirerack.com/blog/oz-wheels

Pirelli is one of the world's leading users of industrial robots. http://www.pirellityre.com/news/1999/12/02/pirelli-launches-the-new-mirs-process/

FIAT invented the Mult-Air engine. It's taking Europe by storm. http://www.fptmultiair.com/

As for the belief that Italy is running out of native born Italians, it is true. But don't forget the tens of millions who belong to the Italian diaspora who might be happy to return to the homeland given the right incentives. http://www.paganiautomobili.it/english.htm

Anonymous said...

It was the great Polish mathematician Stanislaw Ulam who first remarked that "There isn't a single proposition in the social sciences that is both true and non-trivial".
That remark remains as true today as when Ulam first uttered it - and it is very important that all laypersons get their minds around the full implications of this fact ie despite all their boasting and bragging about the 'indisputable mathematical basis of NTT or any other such theory, despite the reams and reams of abstruse equations, well it ain't worth jack-sh*t - yes that's ablout the size of it, ain't worth jack-sh*t.
- This is the reason why , ultimately, all economic ideologies (and it is ideologies and not a proper course of study), crash down to the ground.
The classicists (Smith etc), were on to something - basically elementary tautologies, but the arrogant breed of charlatans we now have, well the only 'economic' value of what they produce is rather expensive toilet tissue.

Dutch Boy said...

Losing trust in institutions is part of maturation. Mommy and Daddy may love you but it should be clear to a thinking person that the powers that be have the opposite attitude.

Luke Lea said...

With free trade the total size of the economic pie gets larger (same with free mobility of capital, if you include profits made in foreign country).

However, wages in high-wage countries also go down. This is according to standard, textbook "factor-price equalization" theory.

What logical conclusions can we draw from these two facts?

First, all -- yes, all! -- of the gains of trade go to capital (ie, those who derive most of their income from capital, including smart people with good educations).

Second, even apart from the gains of trade, each worker's slice of the pie for an hour's work is smaller than it was before. That is what lower wages means.

In other words, free trade in a lop-sided world brings about a fundamental redistribution of income from labor to capital which swamps the gains of trade.

The economy "grows," but most people get poorer.

The upper classes thrive. Harvard's endowment soars. What's not to like?

"To those who have shall be given, to those who have not shall be taken even the little that they have."

David Davenport said...

From the same writer: "Anarchy works. The Italians have proved it for a thousand years.

Did Eye-talian anarchy win the Battle of Lepaanto?

David Davenport said...

Whoops, Lepanto.

Anonymous said...

In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switerzland they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock.

This is true you know. Even the Italians are surprised at how much they have accomplished given the chaos of their politics and daily lives.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

The objections to the article are ridiculous. The article's main point, that Italy is in relative decline, is incontestable. Italy's GDP has basically not grown in 15 years. The article offers up a socio-economic explanation for this not mentioning the subject of immigration. I think the comparison with Argentina is a good one. Based on the comments here, I assume you guys are either illiterate or didn't read the article.

Anonymous said...

By the way, Ferrari is owned and engineered by Volkswagen (Germans), but manufactured in Italy, which seems to be a good arrangement. Fiat, a second-rate car company forever, risks being swallowed up by Volkswagen as well. However, the point that Northern Italy has resisted the dismantling of its' manufacturing base is fortunately true.

Anonymous said...

Off topic, but all you iSteve commenters who love to kvetch about the publishing industry's failure to translate Solzhenitsyn's last book - now's your chance to actually do something about it.

www.ethnopoliticsonline.com is undertaking a translation into English, and they need your support to finish the job.

Click on the word "Solzhenitsyn", halfway down the lefthand column.

Anonymous said...

Aside from agricultural products like olives and wines and native-born restaurateurs, Greece doesn't export very much. Italy exports a whole range of high end manufactured products some of which like exquisite textiles and exotic sports cars have already been mentioned. The Italians also make things that Americans don't like cruise ships (Finmeccanica), panty hose machines (Cortese), subway cars, light rail vehicles and integrated train sets (Ansaldo Breda) and specialized machines used in leather manufacturing (Galli) among others.

Unfortunately, the demographic changes enveloping Italy in the new world order of today will destroy the wonderful uniqueness and charm of the country and its people. Arrivederci!

John D said...

When you inquire about the cause and persistence of this longstanding fact of life, people here say that most Italians have little sense of national identity,

This is an absurd claim. Sure, they have some regional differences, but they are not *that* great. Italy (bless it), was at least 97% ethnic Italian when I lived there in the early 90s. It was a wonderful place to live. They are far more a true nation than is America, because they are a people.

As long as they don't succumb to letting in hordes of third worlders, they'll fare a lot better in the long run than will any multicultural hell.

sabril said...

Steve, why did the Israelis do so poorly in the recent Math Olympiad?

Inquiring Goyim wish to know.

adfadfffasdf said...

OT: Very funny news header. I think the Oliver Stone scandal finally broke the ice on Jewish media power. Now, they are even cracking jokes about it.

http://www.movieline.com/2010/07/hollywood-jews-who-dont-control-media-unite-to-get-oliver-stone-kicked-off-showtime.php

steve wood said...

Try getting on a local train in Rome and noting that every square inch of window space is smeared with graffiti, as are almost all public buildings and the wall-surrounded houses of the well-off (but not churches and small shops). There are costs to a family-centered society with mistrusted public institutions.

Indeed. And they appear to have a problem with public vandalism .

I don't want to have to "know somebody" or try to work an angle just to make a purchase or get government services. Even with all of our problems and all the Henny Penny commentary hereabouts, the US remains a place of impartial justice, public probity and open competition when compared to low-trust societies like Italy.

Furthermore, the good things Steve describes for Italy largely apply to France as well, and the French are richer, live better, and have better food than the Italians.

Of course, according to many in the Stevosphere, France is about to collapse into a Muslim hellhole. I'm sure that's going to happen any day now - whether before or after the also-impending demise of Italy (and Belgium, and Canada, and the UK, and the USA), who knows?

agnostic said...

Living with your parents until your mid-30s, lacking the freedom that a car delivers, and the impossibility of making new friends / acquaintances outside of those who you grew up around your entire life -- that's a hard sell for what paradise looks like.

Any human being with a soul would take Southern California during 1960-1990 (before trust levels started plummeting), over low-trust Italy.

In addition to a nice climate and nice stuff to buy, people grew up faster and therefore had a life for more of their lives. Higher trust meant an easier time making new friends and other social connections.

I've never lived in Italy, but I saw the same conditions in Barcelona. The young people there are incredibly listless because of the lack of roaming freedom that stems from low trust, and the adults tolerate but see it as a downer that they've got to support their kids for so long.

Family togetherness is important, but that can be achieved by living near your family -- not under the same roof as them.

Svigor said...

I like David Segal, because I know right now he's working on a similar piece about Israel...

When did a rapidly growing economy became the chief, even the only, public good? One that every other aspect of human existence must be subordinated to? Sometime in the 1970's as far as I can see.

When slavers took the reins. See, it's tough to get people to sell their kids (out) if they care about or need anything more than money.

You know, I'm starting to rethink this whole High Trust = Good / Low Trust = Bad paradigm

Christ Steve, better late than never I guess.

Apropos of whatever, it occurs to me that, were our masters on our side, we'd hear propaganda like "Italy wants to earn her money the old fashioned way, unlike the globalists who are always after the shortcut," instead of "people who oppose globalization are just losers who don't want to work."

Steve, now you are finally starting to break out of your "conservative" ideology and notice that we swim in a sea of ideological propaganda.

I don't see any power blocs bigger than the media. Not even close. But Americans (Anglophones? Westerners? Humans?), especially conservatives, seem to have this mental block about it, to refuse to acknowledge it. I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Wow--Sailer readers are usually smart but this talk about devoid of facts.

You often write stuff I disagree with but rarely do you just write stupid stuff.

This is just stupid stuff.

Italy outside the city centers in the North does not look prosperous at all. The instant you get out of the tourist zones -- or tours of successful factories arranged by the industrial board -- you see nothing but buildings that look like very bad American housing projects.

The people there live in what functional Americans would consider squalor. An illegal immigrant with no skills and no English but a little bit of diligence will quickly live in better conditions than a Northern Italian college graduate.

The reason their fertility rate is so damned low is that their so unproductive that no one under about 40 can afford a place to live, so they all live with their parents until they are well into their 30s.

O.k. so if you check some data rather than say taling out your bum...

Higher quality of life than U.S.

Higer level of happiness.

What the south Ugly and Squalor? Been to most U.S. burbs? TRy PG county outside D.C., most of LA...

Productively--much higher than U.S., they just don't do much mortgage brokering and account executives...

Check any data source. Italy better for civilized people than U.S. Simple.

Best thing about Italy--trumps U.S. in Science in Math scores.

Anyhow--please come up with data to back up what you say. Then again, most americans are morons.

James Kabala said...

"the poster child of 'economic liberalism' - the United Kingdom.
Let's see what 30 years of 'liberalism' have given it"

"Despite the 'New Labour' appellation, the British Labour Party has effectively been run by Marxists and their fellow-travelers for quite some time."

By liberalism, the first poster meant not Marxism but roughly (not exactly) what in the U.S. would be regarded as conservative (GOP party line, not paleo) policies. The "30 years" should have been a clue.

Polistra said...

Reminds me of something written by Alan Watts, a hippie philosopher.

Watts said that Americans are always accused of being materialists, but in fact we aren't.

French and Italians are the real materialists: they enjoy making and keeping and maintaining ACTUAL THINGS.

Americans don't enjoy making and using things; we only amass and discard things as a measure of our numerical ability to amass and discard.

What we really enjoy is numbers and raw status. When I possess many big things, it proves that my numerical "value" is higher than yours.

David Davenport said...

OK, Fiat unloaded Ferrari back in 2002.

My point is that none of the boutique Euro car makers are prospering. Healthy car makers seem to have to have a rather large minimum size ... economies of scale.


I certainly agree that North America and Europe don't need more armies of 3td world recent arrivals.

//////////////////////////



MILAN, Italy (CNN) -- Fiat, the struggling Italian industrial giant, has agreed to sell a stake in Ferrari for 755.2 million euros ($765 million) to reduce debt and boost its balance sheet.

Mediobanca, Italy's biggest investment bank, plans to buy 34 percent of Ferrari, valuing the entire sport-car maker at about 2.4 billion euros. ...

http://edition.cnn.com/2002/BUSINESS/06/28/fiat.ferrari/


Ford Said to Complete Volvo Sale to Geely Next Week
By Keith Naughton - Jul 28, 2010 3:06 PM CDT
Email Share Print

Ford Motor Co. plans to complete its sale of Volvo Cars to China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Co. next week, finishing the U.S. automaker’s exit from European luxury brands, according to two people familiar with the plans.

Ford is selling Volvo to Geely for $1.8 billion, less than one-third of what it paid for the Swedish automaker in 1999. Ford and Geely executives are aiming to close the sale next week, pending final regulatory approvals and financing, said the people, who asked not to be identified revealing internal plans.

Unloading Volvo would complete Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally’s strategy of exiting European luxury lines to focus on Ford’s namesake brand. Since arriving from Boeing Co. in 2006, Mulally has sold Aston Martin, Land Rover and Jaguar, which Ford acquired in 1989 as the first of a stable of premium nameplates that failed to generate the profits the automaker expected. ...


http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-28/ford-said-to-complete-1-8-billion-volvo-sale-to-china-s-geely-next-week.html

Anonymous said...

"The reason their fertility rate is so damned low is that their so unproductive that no one under about 40 can afford a place to live, so they all live with their parents until they are well into their 30s."

Many people in the US live with their parents also.America's economy is garbage. Have you seen all the terrible places in the US?I wouldn't want to live in most of our cities they are so bad.

At least when I went to Italy I felt more at home than I do in the US with all the diversity nonsense in this country,plus all the immigration. I don't even feel like America is my country anymore.

Italy looked good in the North when I was there. Naples had problems in the 80's when I was there, but I would rather live with Italians in poorer sections of Italy,than blacks and hispanics in American cities because I would feel completely out of place in American,my own country. The suburbs are getting bad also now with all the section 8 vouchers.



There are people in their 30's who have a place of their own,but also still live at home.

I am sure you want Italy to open up their borders to Africans and Pakistanis. They even have some Chinese immigrants in Italy now. Enough with all the immigration.

Anonymous said...

"Living with your parents until your mid-30s, lacking the freedom that a car delivers, and the impossibility of making new friends / acquaintances outside of those who you grew up around your entire life -- that's a hard sell for what paradise looks like.

Any human being with a soul would take Southern California during 1960-1990 (before trust levels started plummeting), over low-trust Italy"

I wish I was an adult in the 60-1985 ,especially if I wasn't raised in a religion that would have ruined my life. I envy those people, wild sex, no guilt,plenty of jobs. The last 20 years in the US are a joke,terrible economy,mass immigration.

I have a car. How does that help you make new friends? You drive right past people. Even if you meet people in the US,you are only going to meet antireligious heathens who use birth control and have premarital sex. Italy isn't soul destroying,religion is.

Dennis Dale said...

...most Italians have little sense of national identity, an obstacle to a system of national taxation

Tricky thing, that national identity; first it's bad, then it's good... It's hard to keep up.

Anonymous said...

Italy is better for civilized people. Hmm.

Well the Economist did say its QoL is higher but then the Economist defines QoL by how European it is. Income counts for little. Government money for doing nothing counts for everything.

As for their math and science scores: They're all white. We have 35 percent NAMs. We're going to lose on that count.

On to more objective measures:

Per capita income adjusted for purchasing power parity (IMF):
U.S. 46,400
Italy 29,100

Now let's keep in mind that the US is 35 percent NAMs at this point and Italy is virtually all white. Apples to apples, US income is at least double.

That pretty much ends the debate there, but lets have fun.

Average square footage of new home in the U.S. is 2,600 square feet. Average square footage of new dwelling in Italy is 800 square feet. Hmmm. I'd love living in that. No wonder they have no kids. (National Association of Home builders.)

Best selling car in U.S.: Toyota Camery (though a couple full size trucks outsell it.)
Best selling car in Italy: Fiat Panda, an econobox of indescribable shittiness. The second best selling car is the 500, a somewhat better econobox that's only slightly worse than a Yaris.

Crime: Violent crime is obviously higher in the U.S. but that again is a NAM thing. Excluding NAMs (and it's probably safe to say you're not one if you're reading this blog) U.S. citizens are less likely than Italians to commit or be the victims of violent crime. As for property crime, there's no contest. Italy has worse property crime in absolute numbers, by far, and so much worse if you exclude NAMs that it's not even in the ballpark.

Anonymous said...

"Any human being with a soul would take Southern California during 1960-1990 (before trust levels started plummeting), over low-trust Italy."

Most people in America didn't live in Southern California at that time. They lived in Appalachia coal areas, farms in Texas, steel areas in Pa., hardly romantic places to live. Plus, we didn't have free markets. We had a ton of regulations,gov't subsidy of hi- tech industry which helped make California and high tax rates.

Sure for a certain segment of the populatio it was great. America started to go down hill around 1970. It took awhile for it to show.

Anonymous said...

It seems like the Italians are stabbing their own people in the back with the hiring of illegals. They are also changing the ethnic make-up of the country. What a shame. At Least I got to see Italy before it turns into another multicultural paradise like the US and Britain.

Anonymous said...

The Creepy Men of Napoli:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOj_N45SA_E

David Davenport said...

What we really enjoy is numbers and raw status ...

Vulgar, ugly Americans, yessir.
Olde Worlde peepul are so much more sophisticated.

... Greeks to today's Romans.

Bob said...

Fiat is doing quite well. It focuses on making stylish small but functional cars, they they sell well where there is a lot of demand for that, namely Europe with its high gas tax and South American with its lower per capita income.

I don't know what the anon is talking about when he says most of Italy looks like Mexico. I spent several months traveling there, including random trips to non tourist areas.

Though the building style is different, the small towns in Italy reminded me a lot of small old town in New England. The rural areas (not just Tuscany) are much more alive than the rural US. Here we have huge factory farms and armies of illegal day laborers, interspersed with Wal-Marts and strip malls.

In rural Italy the focus is on high-value-added produce.

Peaches, for example, taste amazing there because they use more labor to grow old varieties rather than the pretty but tasteless frakenfruit grown here.

You also see a lot more people in rural areas. Even very small towns have a dense center. They usually have a nice train station and bus depot, then small apartment buildings, independent retailers, and old churches.

Bob said...

One other thing you see in rural Italy, but not the US, is clusters of large buildings in the middle of a farming area.

This density means you have a view of farmland from your high-up window, and can actually walk and enjoy the traditional farm sights right from your door. Here is a random example:

Notice the 3 and 4 story buildings directly in front of fields.

http://psycho-cowboy.photos.military.com/Military-Life/2006-Italy-Mission-Longare/DSC00064/154891926_6LGE2-S.jpg

I lived on a street like this in France when I worked there.

It is hard to put into words, but it was just very good for my mental health to be close to an urban center, be have the option to drive or take nice public transport, but still see cows, horses, chickens, orchards, and crops growing in the sun on a daily basis. While auto exhaust doesn't actively bother me in the USA, their small cars and heavy use of public transport in Europe also meant the air was noticeably fresher in suburban areas compared to here.

You can get a general idea of Italian quality of life by just doing google street view of any random city in Italy you pull off the map.

Anonymous said...

As for their math and science scores: They're all white. We have 35 percent NAMs. We're going to lose on that count.



Hmmm. I be that if the Italians excluded their worst 35 percent, they'd look a lot better too.

Anonymous said...

"By the way, Ferrari is owned and engineered by Volkswagen (Germans)"

Ferrari is mostly owned by Fiat, and its mostly engineered and manufactured in Italy.

Truth said...

"When did a rapidly growing economy became the chief, even the only, public good?"

Because if there aren't jobs, and there isn't discretionary money flowing, the actors, the classical musicians, the French chefs and the modern artists you love so much go to another place where those things exist, Milton Friedman.

"That pretty much ends the debate there, but lets have fun."

It's kind of cool to enter a boxing match when you are the judge AND the referee.

Anonymous said...

I love it--the anon. If we exclude NAM's the U.S. is wonderful. Guess what--you are 35% NAM's and that is that! Excluding NAMs and forming your own mental universe of the U.S. free of NAMs and then asserting is more pleasant and better than italy is quite a feat! Wow--considered working for the U.S. Media?

While italian incomes are lower, people do get free health care, and send your qualified kids to university free. I will take 800 square feet in any italian city over 2600 in the likes of Phoenix, Vegas, Riverside or any of the macmasnion paradises in suburban america. I suppose free living in the millios of vacant houses next to some fo the 30 million food stamp recipients makes the case for living in the good ole U.S.--and yes you are stuck with the NAM's amicci!

Truth said...

"At least when I went to Italy I felt more at home than I do in the US with all the diversity nonsense in this country,plus all the immigration."

Not that much more, you didn't stay.

Chris said...

U.S. citizens are less likely than Italians to commit or be the victims of violent crime.

Then how exactly did we end up with these per-capita crime rate rankings?

Assault: U.S. 6th, Italy 37th.

Murder: U.S. 24th, Italy 47th.

Rape: U.S. 9th, Italy 46th.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I think they want to make the Italian people obsolete.

Sort of like what the American people have become, according to Michael Lind.

Are the American people obsolete?

"The richest few don't need the rest of us as markets, soldiers or police anymore. Maybe we should all emigrate"

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2010/07/27/american_people_obsolete/index.html

Anonymous said...

"I like David Segal, because I know right now he's working on a similar piece about Israel..."

What, in this article, do you think applies to Israel? And what economic recommendations would you make to Israel? They seem to be doing better than us and Italy over the last few years.

Anonymous said...

So Italy is good at manufacturing high-quality, low volume, expensive stuff. Big deal. The US is good at it too. Yes, there are great American shoes, quality clothing made in America, and so on. But they are too expensive for American consumers. American consumers prefer Chinese crap. And it's not that Americans can't afford to buy American. They are just not used to paying $500 for a pair of shoes that lasts 30 years. They prefer to pay $60 for Chinese sneakers, then buy another pair when these wear out in 2-3 years.

Anonymous said...

Off topic, but interesting. You should check out The Crisis of Middle-class America by Edward Luce in the Financial Times.

Luce writes, "Many of the jobs of the future will be in 'inter-personal' roles that cannot be easily replaced by computers or ­foreigners – janitors, beauty technicians, home carers and landscape gardeners, for whom college is often superfluous."

Of course one wonders where Luce has been lo these last two decades when he writes that these jobs can't be filled by foreigners. The only jobs that can't be outsourced are, in fact, being outsourced to foreigners.

This too I find interesting: "'I have this gnawing feeling about the future of America,' says [Nobel Economics Laureate] Spence. 'When people lose the sense of optimism, things tend to get more volatile. The future I most fear for America is Latin American: a grossly unequal society that is prone to wild swings from populism to ­orthodoxy, which makes sensible government increasingly hard to imagine.'"

Read it all, and weep. It's what we've been talking about here and on VDare for years.

Anonymous said...

Italy: Berlousconi

U.S.: Obama

Guess that sums it up

Anonymous said...

Japanese folks named ten nations of foreigners they'd like to date.

http://cache001.ranking.goo.ne.jp/crnk/ranking/017/love_mNHROSXsBwdk_all/

USA is #1, Italy is #2.

Anonymous said...

' the seeds of Marconi's demise were sown in 1996 when Lord Weinstock relaxed his iron grip on the business'

Weinstock, that's an Irish name, right?

Steve Sailer said...

Where can I get some sneakers that will last 2 to 3 years?

Americans like cheap Chinese crap that breaks quick because we like the act of buying stuff.

If you bought a pair of shoes from that superlative Italian cobbler whom Daniel Day-Lewis dropped his movie career to apprentice under for several years, you wouldn't get the supreme pleasure of buying more shoes for too long to stand.

jack strocchi said...

Steve Johnson 7/31/2010 said...

Thanks Jack.

I was reminded of that same conversation when I read Steve's article.


Don't mention it. FWIW, I am ambivalent about the issue debated by the liberal Capt Nately and the conservative Old Italian Brothel-keeper. Liberalism can be a path to greatness, but only so long as one does not lose ones identity along the way.

For sure Nately has a point, no country can be great unless it aspires to greatness and gives its citizens the freedom to have a go. And it does work, the US-UK really did construct a marvellous modernist liberal civilization, which lasted at least until the seventies, after which the post-modernists started to undermine things.

Conversely, the conservative Brothel-keeper also has a point, you cannot be great people if you lose your identity in the pursuit of power. Of course if your people cling to their traditional identity to fiercely then they will never change and never progress. This is the problem with Italy, particularly Southern Italy which is intensely clannish and impervious to change.

Ideally one needs to strike a balance between progressive liberal modernity and conservative "corporal" identity. Countries like the UK and the France have managed this, but the balance is always shaky, liable to tip over from one side to another.

At the moment the US is way to addicted to liberal change for its own sake. Imperial invade-the-world foreign policy, globalising indebt-the-world economic policy and multicultural invite-the-world civic policy don't appear to have paid off very handsomely for the average American citizen.

jody said...

lamborghini is owned by volkswagen, not ferrari.

i don't think posters are disagreeing with the idea that italy is in a long slow decline. that's probably true. what they are disagreeing with is the idea that 1) this has to be reversed 2) the way to reverse it to destroy then obliterate italy by transforming it completely into some alien nation. here is what almost every english speaking economist recommends:

"To attain 3% annual GDP growth, turn yourself into Brazil."

these same guys never get around to explaining why brazil is no economic powerhouse.

even in long slow decline, italy remains vastly superior to 200 other nations. good on the italians for keeping it that way.

jody said...

"My point is that none of the boutique Euro car makers are prospering."

this is backwards. low volume manufacturers are doing better in 2010 than they have ever done. europe is in a golden age of low volume car manufacturing. except for the UK. the UK is demolished.

bentley: owned by volkwagen.
jaguar: owned by tata.
land rover: owned by tata.
lotus: owned by proton.
mini: owned by BMW.
rolls-royce: owned by BMW.
vauxhall: owned by GM

that leaves only aston martin, which is british again after being sold by ford in 2007.

operations which build and sell only about 500 units per year:

ascari
caterham
mclaren
morgan
noble
TVR

but a dutch guy founded and owns ascari, and a russian guy owns TVR. and mclaren mainly builds for mercedes.

Truth said...

"italy remains vastly superior to 200 other nations."

Now That is impressive

jody said...

only if you begin using the language of english speaking economists are things not relatively OK in italy. to these people, things are only "OK" when company growth is exploding at a 10% annual rate and a worldwide monopoly in your industry is on the horizon within 5 years. to english speaking economists, anything less than that and the sky is falling and you definitely need to turn your country into brazil just avoid going bankrupt.

back in the real world, having a manufacturing operation like fiat is a sign that things are going OK. zero third world shitholes have an operation like fiat. by itself fiat is the number 5 or 6 vehicle manufacturer in the world. nothing bad about that at all. and now fiat runs chrysler, the number 3 manufacturer in the US. for free, without even having to pay. that's better than almost every other nation in the world.

in the low volume arena, ferrari increased it's sales from 4000 units in 2000 to 8000 units in 2010. under volkswagen, lamborghini increased it's sales from 300 units in 2000 to 1500 units in 2010. maserati is doing well enough that it has returned to the US. and a new independent manufacturer, pagani, was started in italy and now sits above ferrari in performance and exclusivity. italy has good car and truck facilities which are doing OK.

italy makes about as much wine as france, chianti probably being the most well known, but they also make a lot of pino grigio, their version of a french wine. italians make nicer threads the shithole people, too. many girlfriends and wives have had their eye on an article from gucci, prada, armani, or versace. these are billion dollar operations. also, 5 or 6 italians have won nobel science prizes in the last 25 years, which is 5 or 6 more than all the third world shitholes combined. compared to all the nations of earth, italy is doing OK for itself just being italy.

for the most part, economists are sissy fags who fret when a 50 BILLION dollar mining, energy, or manufacturing operation "only" makes 2.5 billion dollars in a fiscal year when they were "forecasted" to make 4.8 billion. oh my god, they are gonna go out of business! analysts gonna downgrade the stock, yo! tell the board of directors to cut the dividend, homie! these analysts in their air conditioned offices, with nothing on the line and no real world stake, they don't know anything. they think if a stock declines 25% that it could be mere weeks until their very way of life is threatened and they won't be able to buy gasoline for their BMW or food at the supermarket. "If economic growth is not blowing up like eminem's cell phone, we could all die!"

ATBOTL said...

"Italy (bless it), was at least 97% ethnic Italian when I lived there in the early 90s."

There have been huge demographic changes sine the early 90's across Europe. Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain are all flooded with third world immigrants now. Paris and London now appear to be majority non-white, based on who you see on the street, with black Africans being the group that has grown the most. The early 90's is ancient history in Europe's demographic decline.

David Davenport said...

this is backwards. low volume manufacturers are doing better in 2010 than they have ever done. europe is in a golden age of low volume car manufacturing.

Jody, if that is the case. why is Ford selling Volvo, and why can't Ford find anyone to buy Volvo except Chop Suey Motors in China?

And are you optimistic about the prospects for Saab now that HM has sold it to some never-heard-of-it Dutch firm? I am not.

Luxe boutique car manufacturing = vanity projects for rich car buffs, or else IPO and government subsidy scams, as in the case of Tesla.

Mark Wethman said...

"Southern and Central Italy are a mess, filled with Chinese and North African illegal aliens, "

Northern Italy, particularly the province of Emilia Romagna, hosts the overwhelming majority of immigrants in Italy because that's where the jobs are.

But I understand that it's an easy mistake to make, given that in your mind southern Italy = bad and third world immigration = bad and the two must therefore go together.

Mark Wethman said...

"How does Italy's family culture compare to Mexican-Americans'?"

Well for one, fewer than 15% of births in Italy are out-of-wedlock.

Anonymous said...

i thought tom friedman said israel was so great because israelies are there..

Mr. Anon said...

"The suspicion of Italians when it comes to extra-familial institutions explains why many here care more about protecting what they have than enhancing their wealth. Most Italians live less than a mile or two from their parents and stay there, often for financial benefits like cash and in-kind services like day care."

Leave it to an economist to refer to grandparents taking care of thier grandchildren as "in-kind services". Are these people robots.....or just idiots?

Anonymous said...

Italy is not the country of Marconi and Fermi, altho both were Italian. The country of Fermi is the US, specifically Chicago, because that's where F lived after the Italians made their country into a fascist shithole. M didn't have to leave Italy, but found the UK more capable of using his inventions.
Several posters blame crime in the US on NAMs, but didn't Italian immigrants have something to do with it? And why does mass emigration shame Mexico but the history of mass emigration not shame Italy?

Skeptical Economist said...

Italy's debt to GDP ratio is quite how. However, the budget deficit is not.

Chris said...

And why does mass emigration shame Mexico but the history of mass emigration not shame Italy?

We don't have a long border with Italy, so regulation of immigration from Italy was a simple matter.

Italians didn't expect us to assimilate to them.

The Italian population in the U.S. didn't threaten to become the majority at any point.

Italians are European, and therefore more like Americans than Latin Americans.

Italians didn't have any colorable claim to our territory, and didn't attempt to make any.

Italian immigration eventually tailed off, while Latin American immigration threatens to continue indefinitely.

Italy has an admirable history. Mexico not so much.

BamaGirl said...

"Several posters blame crime in the US on NAMs, but didn't Italian immigrants have something to do with it? "

Seriously?? A large portion of violent crime in the US is caused by Italians? Haha somebody has been watching too many mobster movies.

bleach said...

agnostic,

"Any human being with a soul would take Southern California during 1960-1990 (before trust levels started plummeting), over low-trust Italy."

I think you miss the point. No one is saying Italy is a paradise without problems. What we are saying is that high-trust California and places like it may bring about their own demises by trusting too much, and too many. What is more trusting than open borders, free trade and a 'land of opportunity'? What is more prone to demographic meltdown? It's not as if the so-trusting white Californians were reproducing at a much greater rate than Italians, either.

To the libertarian who thinks 'U.S. is a much better place to live, if you make believe all the 35% of NAMS don't exist'. And claims that somehow southern Italy is as poor and dangerous as Mexico. Keep the laughs coming, buddy, but don't think you are going to convince any of us who actually have to live with the effects of your favored policies.

Countries by homicide rate(per year per 100,000):

Italy 1.06
United States 5.4
Mexico 14

btw it's kind of funny while searching for murder rates to find that most people are outraged or incredulous to read that the UK now has a higher murder rate than Italy. 'How could this be??' Well let's see, what has changed over the last couple decades..?

Anonymous said...

"At least when I went to Italy I felt more at home than I do in the US with all the diversity nonsense in this country,plus all the immigration."

Not that much more, you didn't stay."

I couldn't, unless I was an illegal immigrant.

Truth said...

You could have married someone, or, gotten a job.

Anonymous said...

Some facts:

Italy has the second car/people ratio in the world and the country is submerged by cars included many medium and large cars.

Almost 50% of the relatively low italian crime rate is due to immigrants (NIMs) despite they are only the 7% of the resident population.

Italy is a very overcrowded country, over 6 times more densely populated than the USA: you can't expect to see huge suburbs with little family homes like in the USA. Besides in Italy family homes are made in bricks and not in wood: therefore they are quite more expensive.

In Italy there are very huge regional differences regarding per-capita income, ranging from the 22,000 US$ of Campania to the 44,000 US$ of Lombardy, which is the second richest area of Europe.

Unlike the USA, Italy has no natural resources: it prospers only by importing raw materials and exporting manifactured products.

The awful post-crisis american tent-cities full of unemployed whites are absent in Italy since the companies limit their downsizing and there is a social net made of both welfare and family that allows people to keep their homes and eat.

A great part of the US citizens wealth is (was) built on very huge personal debt while the italians save as much as the asians, many still prefer to buy things after they have saved enough for it without asking for a loan which isn't easy to obtain from the very conservative (thanks God) italian banks.

What really holds down the italian economic growth is first of all the Euro that doesn't allow the italian central bank to help the export by devaluing the money and secondly it is the fact that Italy is three countries in one: a little Germany (Northern Italy), a little Spain (Central Italy) and a huge Greece (Southern Italy) which is kept afloat by huge money transfers from the industrial north which as result is chocked by taxation. Northern Italy alone would likely economically outpacing the rest of Europe if you consider the enormous density of small companies that it has.
This is why the country is moving toward a federal structure which should decrease the Nord-->South transfer of money.

Karlota said...

i suck in economy.. weee

Cachorro Quente said...

"Southern and Central Italy are a mess, filled with Chinese and North African illegal aliens, the Camorra, Ndragheta, and Mafia basically shoved aside by more ruthless, numerous, and younger illegal immigrants. Agriculture which should and has dominated the area, is in decline. Illegal alien run sweatshops mostly Chinese Triad and North African gangs predominate."

This is highly incorrect. Immigration (illegal or legal) is way more conspicuos in Northern, productive Italy than in the south.

And foreign organized crime is pretty far from "shoving aside" Mafia or Ndrangheta. What happens in certain areas of the South Nigerians or Albanians gangs deal drugs for Italian mobs, whose leadership is not threatened at all.

Alex Roe said...

I was a little late to the party!

Interesting reading this objective piece on Italy, and all the comments too.

I've lived in Italy for over 10 years, and blogged about it for 5.

Italy could teach some other countries a thing or two, and a few other countries could teach Italy something too, I believe.

I wrote this post about life in Italy a while back: http://www.blogfromitaly.com/is-life-in-italy-so-bad/ and it provoked a few interesting responses.

Regards from Milan, Italy,

Alex