Saturday, July 31, 2010

‘Is Italy too Italian?’
...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.

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?

Subversively, however, Segal occasionally 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.

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 GDP to foreign creditors for a generation to come, Italy is basically in hock to its own citizens.

And this is a country that never had a housing bust or a major bank crisis.
They 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.

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

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. 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.

From Steve Sailer.

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