By Tom Luongo
Italy went to the polls and gave its Prime Minister and, by extension, the European Union a big thumbs down on Sunday. The referendum to radically overhaul Italy’s government failed spectacularly.
This sent the euro plunging through near-term support at $1.055 versus the U.S. dollar.
Renzi said he will step down today and allow a new Prime Minister to be found. Major opposition parties, the Northern League and Five Star Movement (M5S) are calling for new elections to be held as quickly as possible.
Both of these are fervently anti-EU parties of the so-called “Far Right,” because any idea or party that is outside of allowable cultural Marxist limits needs to call up ghosts of fascists-past. The reality is, of course, far less ominous, unless you are a member of the Davos set.
Par for the Italian Course
Italy has had more than sixty governments since the end of World War II, so the Renzi government lasting just two years is actually quite impressive. Italians are fed-up with the European Union. That disgust has risen since the first Greek bailout in 2010.
Early in 2015 Venice voted to secede from Italy and was promptly ignored. This is similar to the unelected technocrats in Brussels continuing to ignore Catalonia even though the people there continue to move forward.
The rise of M5S was inevitable from the moment Silvio Berlusconi was ousted as Prime Minister and Goldman-Sachs squid Mario Monti installed in 2011 to oversee the Trokia’s (The EU, IMF and ECB) austerity plans for dealing with Italy’s intractable debt.
M5S won the race for mayor in Rome earlier this year and has been leading in the most recent national polls. So, at this point, if a caretaker government does not form, snap elections in 2017 will most likely bring M5S to power.
With this vote, backed strongly in the northern states, there is a high probability that M5S and the Northern League would form a stable government as they should garner a majority. And this is a majority capable of holding a successful national referendum on ditching the euro and returning to the Italian lira.
Europe’s Latest Headache
The EU brought this on themselves with how it treated its members during bailout negotiations in year’s past. As I alluded to earlier, Italy never wanted the bailout forced on it by the Troika. This is why Berlusconi was removed and Monti installed.
And that strong-arm move which, like in Greece, saw none of the money go to Italians. Some understood the bailout was for the banks who held the debt. Berlusconi wants to take Italy out of the euro-zone and re-institute the lira.
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But the timing was wrong. And it set the stage for yesterday’s revolt. We’ve seen this story play itself out in countries all across the West. And we’ll see it will happen again in 2017 and 2018. For now, the EU has a real existential threat to deal with.
Why? Because Italy’s banks are insolvent. It’s eight biggest banks need massive infusions of capital to even remain open at this point. What retributive-minded pols in Berlin and Brussels have to accept is letting them fail is a mutual suicide pact.
Activating ‘bail-in’ clauses would be tantamount to war. The main depositors in Italian banks are Italians, not big multi-nationals or foreigners. A bail-in, confiscating deposits, would ensure for generations enmity between Germany and Italy.
The EU was supposed to end this kind of thing, not encourage it.
Because the biggest banks outside of Italy in Europe are the ones exposed to massive shifts in both interest rates on the debt and the euro exchange rate. And the biggest one exposed is Deutsche Bank.
For a New Italy
M5S can argue, quite convincingly, that Italy’s creditors have been repaid handsomely thus far. The outstanding debt is mostly interest and penalties forced on it by the Troika.
Those debts are choking the Italian economy and, by extension, destroying its banks.
Then Italy leaves the euro, brings back the lira, which likely falls in value. And the government decides then what, if anything, it will repay. It will do so in lira versus higher-priced euros, paying back pennies.
Sunday’s referendum means confrontation between Italy and Germany over Italy’s debt. It is happening against the backdrop of a similar revolt occurring in France and the Netherlands during the first four months of 2017.
No wonder German Chancellor Angela Merkel is thinking of deporting some refugees. But, the avalanche against her European Union has started and it doesn’t matter what the pebbles, like her, have to say about it.
Tom Luongo is a contributor for Planet Free Will.com, where this article first appeared. He is also a Senior Financial Editor at Newsmax Media, Author of the Resolute Wealth Letter and former contributor at AOL Sports. Professional chemist, amateur dairy goat farmer and outspoken Austrian Economist. You can follow him at:
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