Days 20 & 21
March 28-29, 2020
28 March 2020
Città della Pieve
Worldometer, Last updated:
March 28, 2020, 18:55 GMT
29 March 2020
Città della Pieve
Worldometer, Last updated:
March 29, 2020, 17:25 GMT
Italian Political Leaders’ Responses to The European Union
Herewith below: A letter to the citizens of Città della Pieve from our mayor, Fausto Risini, Sunday, March 29, 2020. Please read this poignant account and appeal to the Italian government, the European Union and the world at large. Following it is a recap of PM, Guiseppe Conte’s appeal to the European Union and a brief economic history of Italy for context. Mayor Rinsini pleads that the world takes notice of Italy’s economic plight. He hopes that the world will focus on the dire situation of the multitude of microsopic historic and cultural gems of communities like Città della Pieve. He prays that the towns and cities that harbor treasures and that visitors flock to see yearly, will not wither and die from the tsunami of financial ruin that has washed over the Italian economy, leaving it drowned in debt and barely afloat. He hopes that Italy will not find itself in the same straits it was post-WWII, however, at this impasse, it is looking more and more likely that the Italian economy will suffer its greatest blow since the 1940’s.
In response to Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte’s appeal March 28, 2020 to the European Union to save Italy from economic collapse, Mayor Fausto Risini, writes….
Dear fellow citizens,
I am really happy to inform you that today not only do we not have new positive cases at Covid-19, but we have also received the official communication of 2 negative patients, therefore clinically cured.
The Coronavirus pandemic is a worldwide tragedy that has hit our small community hard.
So much concern, several positive cases, too many, mandatory quarantines for many families and the loss of Francesco, a father, a husband, a childhood friend, a reference for all, an entrepreneur who has succeeded, with sacrifice and obstinacy, to create a solid company able to be proud and to bring Città della Pieve far, far beyond national borders.
We could not greet him as he deserved, we could not hold onto his family, sharing the pain or offering our shoulder in comfort.
I am sure that despite the physical distance that inevitably separates us into watertight compartments, every little gear of our community is more united than ever.
We have demonstrated it and we are demonstrating it every day, protecting each other simply by staying at home.
I have repeated this to you many times, but I also take this opportunity to tell you that I am honestly proud of the sense of responsibility that the vast majority of you are showing. A community that has erected brick by brick a compact wall against this virus.
I sincerely thank the Pievesi on the “front line”, who work every day to ensure the delivery of essential services: women and men who demonstrate, despite the obvious difficulties, great courage and dedication towards our country.
The tragedy we are experiencing has hit the health system hard, it was inevitable to find ourselves in pain considering the extent of the emergency, but also the wickedness of the health policies implemented in the last twenty years has played its part.
Policies responding only to accounting needs: the drastic reduction of beds, the closure of small hospitals, the working conditions and the precariousness of operators, the closure of clinics and territorial health centers is the clear demonstration of how the right to life is been sacrificed to the business logic of economic profit and state budgets.
We have a solid public health system, but this does not mean that it is free from leaks, waste, corruption and promises made and never fulfilled.
Even in our small way we touched it with the closure of our hospital, the emergency room and the chronic lack of beds in our area.
At the beginning of this emergency, when our Municipality was among the first affected by positive cases, day and night I thought about what would have happened if the Coronavirus had attacked our areas as in Lombardy.
The response made me shiver and this experience is a further stimulus for me to forcefully claim the reopening of our former hospital, obviously together with the Mayors with whom we already share the reason for this battle. But let’s get back to the point.
My biggest concern right now is knowing how to better manage the post-crisis. I do not want to express judgments on the work of the Government or on the European attitude, but it is also true that we cannot close our eyes to what is happening: Italy risks falling back into an economic and social crisis comparable to that of the after the war, with devastating effects for the social estate of millions of families, hundreds of thousands of unemployed, paralysis and the closure of shops, commercial activities, crafts, companies related to culture and tourism: the virus risks putting definitively on its knees our BelPaese.
We need clear, effective and very short answers. We cannot wait for the times of European bureaucrats, we cannot passively accept the niet of Holland and Germany. Our country needs an expansionary maneuver with a substantial increase in public debt and the loss of private sector income must be reabsorbed from the state budget.
The Cura Italia Decree is not enough: immediate and streamlined support for household liquidity, support for employment and unemployment, support for Municipalities in the provision of essential services, credit lines and bank loans at zero cost are required. Exceptional measures are needed to contain otherwise irreparable damage.
Alone, a Municipality, a Mayor, a Council, cannot bear and bear the weight of such a heavy recession: I don’t sleep at night at the thought of all our small traders, VAT numbers, companies with workers in layoffs , the artisans who have lived for days without collecting a euro and with the uncertainty of their future.
In the meantime, we will do our part, albeit small, without losing heart. None of my fellow citizens will be left behind, this I guarantee you and the Administration is working tenaciously with initiatives to be implemented quickly.
I called the President of the Merchants Association of Città della Pieve to start a dialogue with all the local realities, comparing ideas and needs on local taxation, to develop a targeted and optimized planning, immediately, with the aim of sharing amongst ourselves to avoid being unprepared when everything we are experiencing ends.
With my Council, we have decided not to take unilateral initiatives without first consulting those who will have the burden of starting again.
We are at the service of the community and you citizens give us the strength and determination to carry on our work, although the tools available to us remain few and limited.
Finally, I am sure that all of us, deep down, are developing a new awareness thanks to this sudden slowdown: the limits of liberal policies are clear and I hope that this experience will be the stimulus and energy to sow a more sustainable economy, with a paradigm shift.
We have the opportunity to bring the community, the territory, the quality of life, fairness and essentiality back to the center. The potential that surrounds us is truly great, just wanting to.
In these days I have received hundreds of messages of solidarity that have come to me as Mayor from non-Pievesi who love our land, our traditions and the natural ability we have to unite different traditions and cultures.
It is a real pride to be the Mayor of this city, without having the fear of facing difficult and complicated moments because I trust deeply in the serenity, passion and tenacity of each of you to be able to overcome them together.
Italian PM: EU ‘purpose at stake’ in coronavirus response
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Photo: TIZIANA FABI / AFPItalian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned Saturday that the European Union could lose its purpose if it fails to come up with a strong response to the coronavirus threat.
Conte aired his grievances after the 27 EU leaders could not agree on an action plan during an argumentative six-hour video conference Thursday and gave their finance ministers two more weeks to forge a policy that could please Italy and Spain.
The two countries hardest-hit by the pandemic blocked Thursday’s statement because it did not go far enough.
The crux of the argument is about the extent to which the EU — facing what Italy views as an existential threat — should abandon its policy of keeping within tight budget constraints.
The bloc has already untied its purse strings in ways not seen since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. Conte argues that this is not enough.
Rome and Madrid want the EU to start issuing “corona bonds” — a form of common debt that governments sell on markets to raise money and address individual economic needs. More spendthrift nations such as Germany and the Netherlands are balking at the idea of joint debt.
Conte said he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had “not just a disagreement but a hard a frank confrontation” Thursday about how to proceed.
“If Europe does not rise to this unprecedented challenge, the whole European structure loses its raison d’etre (reason for existing) to the people,” Conte told Saturday’s edition of the Il Sole 24 Ore financial newspaper.
‘Very different from 2008’
The entire eurozone is expected to slip into a recession over the coming months.
But Italy is facing the threat of a near economic collapse after being the first European country to shutter almost all its businesses on March 12.
Some forecasts suggests that its economy — now the third-largest among nations that use the euro common currency — could contract by as much as seven percent this year.
It shrank by 5.3 percent of gross domestic product in 2009.
Conte warned that EU leaders were in danger of making “tragic mistakes” that “leave our children the immense burden of a devastated economy.”
“I represent a country that is suffering a lot and I cannot afford to procrastinate,” Conte said.
The energetic 55-year-old has seen his popularity shoot up thanks to a general sense that he was doing all he could to help the country through its worst crisis since World War II.
Italy’s world-leading death toll is on course to eclipse 10,000 this weekend and its painful shutdown of businesses and many factories could last for months.
The country’s COVID-19 contagion rates are slowing but deaths are still being recorded at frightening rates.
Italy set a new global record by registering more than 900 deaths on Friday — and 1,600 in just two days.
But a growing number of medics are warning that its fatalities could be much higher because retirement homes often do not report all their COVID-19 deaths.
The number of people who have died from the new disease at home is unknown.
“This is something very different from the 2008 crisis,” Conte said. “We are at a critical point in European history.”
A SYNOPSIS OF THE ITALIAN ECONOMY SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION
Economic Survey of Italy (April 2019)
In recent years, supportive global economic conditions, expansionary monetary policy, structural reforms and prudent fiscal policy supported Italy’s gradual economic recovery. Exports, private consumption and more recently investment drove growth, buttressed by a shift of export industries towards higher value-added products. The employment rate has increased by 3 percentage points since 2015 and the health of the banking system has improved.
Italy is the world’s ninth biggest economy. Its economic structure relies mainly on services and manufacturing.
Italy’s economy was heavily impacted by the global financial crisis and only emerged from recession in 2015, however in 2018 the country’s GDP was still 4% lower than the 2007 level. In 2019 the economy stagnated due to several factors, including the uncertain political situation and the Eurozone slowdown.
In modern times, the Italian economy has had very variable growth. In the 1950s and early 1960s, the Italian economy was booming, with record high growth rates, including 6.4% in 1959, 5.8% in 1960, 6.8% in 1961, and 6.1% in 1962. (Source: OECD, 2019)
A Short History of the Italian Economy
In 1929, Italy was hit hard by the Great Depression. Trying to handle the crisis, the Fascist government nationalized the holdings of large banks which had accrued significant industrial securities, establishing the Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale. A number of mixed entities were formed, whose purpose was to bring together representatives of the government and of the major businesses. These representatives discussed economic policy and manipulated prices and wages so as to satisfy both the wishes of the government and the wishes of business.
This economic model based on a partnership between government and business was soon extended to the political sphere, in what came to be known as corporatism. At the same time, the aggressive foreign policy of Mussolini led to an increasing military expenditure. After the invasion of Ethiopia, Italy intervened to support Franco‘s nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. By 1939, Italy had the highest percentage of state-owned enterprises after the Soviet Union.
Italy’s involvement in World War II as a member of the Axis powers required the establishment of a war economy. The Allied invasion of Italy in 1943 eventually caused the Italian political structure – and the economy – to rapidly collapse. The Allies, on the one hand, and the Germans on the other, took over the administration of the areas of Italy under their control. By the end of the war, Italian per capita income was at its lowest point since the beginning of the 20th century.
Post-war economic miracle
Main article: Italian economic miracle
After the end of World War II, Italy was in rubble and occupied by foreign armies, a condition that worsened the chronic development gap towards the more advanced European economies. However, the new geopolitical logic of the Cold War made possible that the former enemy Italy, a hinge-country between Western Europe and the Mediterranean, and now a new, fragile democracy threatened by the NATO occupation forces, the proximity of the Iron Curtain and the presence of a strong Communist party, was considered by the United States as an important ally for the Free World, and received under the Marshall Plan over US$1.2 billion from 1947-51.
The end of aid through the Plan could have stopped the recovery but it coincided with a crucial point in the Korean War whose demand for metal and manufactured products was a further stimulus of Italian industrial production. In addition, the creation in 1957 of the European Common Market, with Italy as a founding member, provided more investment and eased exports.
These favorable developments, combined with the presence of a large labour force, laid the foundation for spectacular economic growth that lasted almost uninterrupted until the “Hot Autumn‘s” massive strikes and social unrest of 1969–70, which then combined with the later 1973 oil crisis and put an abrupt end to the prolonged boom. It has been calculated that the Italian economy experienced an average rate of growth of GDP of 5.8% per year between 1951–63, and 5% per year between 1964–73. Italian rates of growth were second only, but very close, to the German rates, in Europe, and among the OEEC countries only Japan had been doing better. (Source: Wikipedia, 2020)