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Sustainability and New Economic Paradigm

Malaysia’s capital-intensive approach to become the next international education hub

Education tops once again Malaysia’s political and economic agenda. Prime Minister Najib Razak unveiled on October 10 the new federal budget for 2015, in which education receives the largest allocation equal to RM56.6 billion (USD 16.2 billion), or 26% of the overall budget.

Education is recognized as the cornerstone of Malaysia’s Economic Transformation Programme. As such, it has been identified as a National Key Economic Area, with the objective of making Malaysia an international education hub by attracting 200,000 international students by 2020. Already in 2011, the World Bank assessed that Malaysia’s public expenditure on primary and secondary education as a percentage of GDP, was slightly higher than OECD average (3.8% versus 3.4%). In the Asian context, Malaysia’s public spending on education was more than double that of other ASEAN countries (3.8% versus 1.8%), and 1.6% higher than the “Asian Tigers” (South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore).

Concerns over deteriorating performance despite enormous investment

Experts in the sector, however, are raising eyebrows over the decreasing quality of education offered as well as the expected return on investment of the 2015 budget for education. Concerns are rising due to Malaysia’s deteriorating performance in the PISA assessment. According to the latest report, Malaysia scored below OECD average and in some areas (science and reading) the country’s performance worsened compered the previous assessment.

Critics underlined that the policy embraced by the government is excessively investment-driven without paying the necessary attention to teachers’ training and development needs. The 1BestariNet project, for instance, has the objective to supply 4G broadband access to all 10,000 schools in the country and promote the use of e-learning techniques by supplying new technological equipment thereby cutting the ratio of student-device to 10:1. Budget 2015 records a RM200 million (USD 57.3 million) increase in “hardware” developments (infrastructure and ICT) but also a RM600 million (USD172 million) cut in “software” services, such as pre-service, in-service and leadership training of teachers. From 1999 to 2010, the Ministry has invested approximately RM6 billion on ICT infrastructure for schools. However, UNESCO states that there is still little evidence that the usage of this technology is actually facilitating creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking.

Risks and opportunities of aligning education to economic objectives

On the one hand, education lobbyists such as Parents Action Group for Education (PAGE) and public think tanks as the Penang Institute criticized the economic-oriented educational system that leaves little room for social objectives and equitable development of students. It appears that the adoption of latest technologies has little marginal impact on pupils in rural areas, where teachers do not receive the necessary training to reap the benefits of ICT infrastructure. On the other hand, the World Bank praises Malaysia for its effort in addressing the mismatch between education and market requirements, a gap responsible for leaving many graduates jobless. The presence of publicly funded high-tech parks – such as Kulim High-Tech Park, Senai Park, Technology Park Malaysia, Kuantan High-Tech Park – distributed on the whole national territory contribute to shape a conducive environment by leveraging R&D potential and profitability for innovative companies.

The internationalization of education

Malaysia is taking advantage of the rising global student mobility. According to UNESCO, the country is the 11th most preferred study destination worldwide and hosts students from approximately 100 countries. Due to steer competition from mid-value manufacturers such as India and China, Malaysia is investing heavily on education as the key variable to accomplish its economic transformation. This move did not go unnoticed to many MNCs that are picking Kuala Lumpur as their regional HQ because of the availability of high-skilled human capital. Private institutions and international schools have been mushrooming along with foreign universities setting branch campuses in Malaysia. EduCity, for instance, a project spearheaded by the federal government and State of Johor, is Malaysia’s first multi-campus education cluster. Ten international education institutions have signed up to set up local campuses in EduCity so far, of which two are secondary schools and the rest are higher learning institution. This provides foreigners with opportunities to send their children to internationally accredited institutions and places Malaysia in the right position to attract new talents from all around the world to fulfill its vision to become an international education hub.

Malaysia: The Gateway to ASEAN


Here you can download the latest report I contributed to realize on Malaysia. It was recently distributed with The Daily Telegraph.

Take a look at it or download it (it’s free) if you want to know more about Malaysia’s…

  • Business environment
  • FDI incentives
  • Innovation and high-tech cities
  • Telecommunications
  • Regional economic corridors and related investment and business opportunities
  • Education, human capital development, and the transition towards a “knowledge-based economy”
  • The country’s global leadership in Islamic finance, a viable financial alternative for all
  • Oil & Gas
  • Tourism attractions

Comparative Politics Vol 2: Ease of Doing Business. Malaysia vs Italy

Malaysia ranks 6 in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report 2014.

Source: The World Bank

Source: The World Bank


One of the key variables to make sure to become the location of choice of foreign investors is the ease of doing business. As you can see, one of the indicators in the table above is “Paying Taxes.” So let’s take tax incentives and regulations for instance, as I’ve had the opportunity to interview the CEO of the Malaysian Inland Revenue Board, Tan Sri Shukor.

In Malaysia it is possible to file taxes online, through an e-filing system. The e-filing system not only guarantees efficiency for the government and companies in terms of cost and time savings but it also ensures fair treatment to the public (for instance you can get tax returns within 30 days).

Moreover, in line with the government strategy to develop strategic economic activities (e.g. biotechnology industries, operational headquarters, international procurement centers, regional distribution centers, real estate investment trusts, treasury management centers, 4 and 5 Star Hotels in Peninsular Malaysia, private and international schools, provider of industrial design services in Malaysia, child care centers and pre-school education), international investors allocating resources in specific geographical areas or sectors enjoy tax holidays and don’t have to pay income tax for a certain number of years. Dividends are tax-free and companies willing to re-invest in R&D in Malaysia may be eligible to double-deduction.

Companies that are recognized with the Pioneer Status are eligible to a tax exemption ranging from 70 to 100%. In alternative, another tax incentive is the Investment Tax Allowance (ITA) for projects that imply long-term large capital investments.

The government has created a conducive ecosystem for business to thrive and the private sector aligns profit-making with innovation and socio-economic development. All the ingredients are there to make Malaysia an economic case study of excellence.

Italy ranks 65, after all European countries except for Greece, Romania, Czech Republic, and Malta.


If we don’t want to get stuck in this recession for decades this is definitely an area that we must reform. We need to simplify procedures and digitalize systems. This is also a way to cut public spending. Let’s get rid of red-tapes and reduce excessive costs (e.g. notary fees); a good idea could be to create a one-stop center for opening up a business where you take care of all paperwork/procedures at the same place. Should there be a need to communicate with different offices, this should be done internally and electronically.



Source: The World Bank



Source: The World Bank

Source: The World Bank


Let’s compare the “Paying Taxes” indicator. Besides the fact that our tax rate is equal to 65.8% of profits, while in Malaysia is 36.3%; the time and labor tax and contributions are 2/3 times higher in Italy than the average in OECD countries and Malaysia.

In Italy it takes 269 hours per year to pay taxes against 175 as an average of OECD countries and 133 in Malaysia. Labor tax and contributions stand as high as 43.4% in Italy. It’s 23.1% in OECD countries and 15.6% in Malaysia. How can we expect our unemployment rate to go down? It’s simply impossible for many companies to hire more workers with these labor costs.



Source: The World Bank

Source: The World Bank



Source: The World Bank

Source: The World Bank


In order to be more competitive in the global market we need to increase significantly what here is referred to as “ease of doing business.” Regulations must be simplified; procedures must be streamlined; and systems must be digitalized. A reform in this direction will not only attract foreign investors, but also help us cutting public spending.

Oh, and I almost forgot… English…Because nobody else speaks Italian besides us.

Krugman vs Alesina and the Italian Stalemate – Krugman contro Alesina e l’impasse italiano

What is the economic policy of the new Italian government? I bet no one can answer this question. On the one hand, the Democratic Party (PD)-or at least some of the ministers- emphasize the importance of cutting taxes on the labor market in order to boost employment. On the other hand, B (that just stands for Berlusconi since it’s hard to believe the existence of a structural party behind him) is obsessed with the repeal of IMU (a tax introduced by Monti on real estate). The problem is that PD and B are sitting at the same table, the Government. Both, however, stress the importance of maintaining the promises made to the EU (i.e. keeping the budget in order, whatever it takes) but at the same time say we need more investments to shake up the real economy.

Well, guess what? The two policies are mutually exclusive, especially in times of crisis. We either expand spending or we cut it. We either choose Keynesian economics or we go for Austerity. This choice mirrors the debate going on between Paul Krugman and Alberto Alesina, the first being of course the Keynesian and the second the Austerian from Bocconi. Krugman criticizes Alesina and Ardagna’s paper arguing that there is no evidence that spending cuts lead to economic expansion. In the Euro area, indeed, austerity has produced the situation in the graph below:

Alesina, in turn, replied Krugman saying “My paper has never claimed that every fiscal adjustment is expansionary. It just claimed that there have been examples in which some well-designed policy packages, based on spending cuts and other measures, have been associated with a positive impact on the economy.”

As I already pointed out in my previous post, the bottom line stays the same: it’s the boom, not the slump the right time for austerity. We all know how badly Italian governments have blown up taxpayers money for the past 30 years or more, and how much money ends up in corruption. I do believe there are sectors where spending must be cut (one example above all, eliminating provinces, a useless administrative layer that sucks money and makes our infamous bureaucratic system even slower).

Yet, do we really think that lying off thousands of people right now will help boosting our economy and keep our budget in order? With an unemployment rate at 11,5% and a big credit crunch, our priority is creating employment and this is why we need more spending now. The US went that way and they are getting out of this mess. We, in Europe, are falling even deeper into it.

So what is the incumbent government doing for our economy? Absolutely nothing. First of all because of its inherent weakness (Left and Right can hardly agree on what the recipe should be, assuming they have any idea about what should be done at all). Second, because we don’t have the guts (and the credibility, since the rest of Europe laughs at us seeing Berlusconi once again) to renegotiate the Fiscal Compact within the EU.

The priorities of our politicians are clearly different. While PD proposes to ban “movements” from running for the next elections (clearly targeting the Five Stars Movement), the Five Stars can’t discuss anything else than how much their own elected MPs should spend for lunch or dinner; B, of course, has a more compelling priority in times of crisis and proposes to halve the term of imprisonment for the people charged with association with the Mafia. This will definitely help restore our economy. 


Qual è la politica economica del governo Italiano? Scommetto che nessuno abbia una risposta a questa domanda. Da un lato, il PD⎯o almeno alcuni ministri⎯mettono al centro la questione della riduzione delle tasse sul lavoro al fine di sostenere l’occupazione. Dall’altro lato, B (perchè tanto è inutile di parlare di PDL dato che non c’è alcuna struttura partitica dietro di lui) è ossessionato con l’abolizione dell’IMU. Il problema è che PD e B sono seduti allo stesso tavolo, il Governo. Entrambi, tuttavia, sottolineano l’importanza di mantenere le promesse fatte all’UE (tenere i conti in ordine, a qualsiasi costo) ma allo stesso tempo dicono che abbiamo bisogno di più investimenti per dare una spinta all’economia reale.

Ebbene, indovina un po’? Le due politiche sono alternative l’una all’altra, specialmente in tempi di crisi. O aumentiamo la spesa o la tagliamo. O scegliamo una politica economica keynesiana o continuiamo con l’austerità. Questa scelta rispecchia il dibattito tra Paul Krugman e Alberto Alesina, il primo naturalmente rappresentante di Keynes e il secondo dell’austerità bocconiana. Krugman critica un paper di Alesina e Ardagna affermando che non ci sono dati empirici a testimoniare che tagli della spesa corrispondano a crescita economica. Nell’area euro, infatti, la politica di austerità ha prodotto la situazione del grafico qui sotto:

Alesina, allo stesso tempo, risponde a Krugman dicendo “Il mio paper non ha mai affermato che ogni misura fiscale porta crescita economica. Dice solo che ci sono esempi dove pacchetti politici ben strutturati, basati su tagli della spesa, hanno un impatto positivo sull’economia.”

Come ho già descritto in un post precedente, la morale della favola è sempre la stessa: il boom economico, non la recessione, è il tempo appropriato per l’austerità. Tutti noi sappiamo come i governi italiani abbiano sperperato denaro pubblico negli ultimi 30 anni o più e quant’altro denaro sia stato mangiato dalla corruzione. Anch’io credo che si debbano fare dei tagli (un esempio su tutti, le province).

Ma siamo sicuri che licenziando migliaia di persone proprio in questo momento di crisi possa aiutare la ripresa economica? Con un tasso di disoccupazione all’11,5% e in una situazione di ristrettezza del credito, la priorità è creare occupazione ed è per questo che dobbiamo aumentare la spesa adesso. Gli USA hanno preso questa strada e stanno uscendo dalla crisi. Noi, in Europa, ci stiamo sempre più dentro fino al collo.

Quindi, cosa sta facendo il nostro governo per l’economia? Assolutamente niente. Prima di tutto a causa della sua debolezza interna (Destra e Sinistra difficilmente troveranno un accordo sulla ricetta, ammesso che abbiano alcuna idea di cosa si debba fare). Secondo, perché non abbiamo gli attributi (e la credibilità, dato che ci ridono dietro in tutta Europa vedendo ancora una volta Berlusconi) di rinegoziare il Fiscal Compact a livello europeo.

Le priorità dei nostri politici sono chiaramente diverse. Mentre il PD cerca di mettere al bando i “movimenti” (ostacolando chiaramente l’M5S), l’M5S è tutto rinchiuso nella sua discussione su quanto debbano spendere per pranzo e per cena i propri eletti in Parlamento. B, naturalmente, ha un’idea ben chiara delle priorità del Paese e propone di dimezzare la pena detentiva per il concorso esterno in associazione mafiosa. Questo sì che aiuterà l’economia del nostro Paese. 

It’s the Liquidity Trap, Baby! Mario Draghi and the Credit Crunch – E’ la trappola della liquidità, bellezza! Mario Draghi e la ristrettezza del credito

Yesterday, Mario Draghi said he’s working to make sure the money provided by the ECB to banks ends up in the real economy. Recalling what I have already discussed in one of my previous posts (A Suicidal Europe) on the Euro Crisis, this news is just another example of why the monetary policy itself failed to get us out of this mess.

So, textbook explanation goes like this: in times of crisis, Central Banks provide funds to banks, which in turn provide loans to companies facing financial problems. The economy starts to recover, but the rate of inflation increases as a result of pumping new money into the economy. Now, how does the ECB decide the optimal level of money (by cutting the interest rate) to pour into the economy? This decision is a trade-off with the level of “acceptable” inflation.

Article 127 of The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union clearly states that the main objective of the ECB is to maintain price stability. Moreover, the threshold that the ECB sets out as level of “acceptable inflation” is 2% (see p 81). So, basically the ECB regulates the interest rate in function of the attainment of 2% inflation rate in the medium run.

How come today despite the fact that the ECB has slashed the interest rate to unprecedented low (0.75%) the economy is not recovering, companies are not getting the much needed funds from banks, and the inflation rate is decreasing instead of skyrocketing?

Because, we are in a situation of liquidity trap! In other words, the textbook mechanism described above went haywire. The ECB has, indeed, provided funds to banks, but banks don’t lend out to companies thereby exacerbating the credit crunch. This is because banks are worried about the solvency of troubled companies and find more profitable to buy government bonds or to hoard liquidity for rainy days. This is also explains the descending trend of inflation: the funds provided to banks by the ECB do not end up in the real economy, so the money in circulation does not expand.

Ironically, Germany&Co- as I came to define the group of pro-austerity nations- see lowering levels of inflation as a positive thing. As pointed out in Mercantilism, Austerity Psychosis, and the Need for a Stronger ECB, our problem today is not inflation but deflation and the graph demonstrates that we might be heading that way. We have to get used to the idea of having higher levels of “acceptable inflation” in the medium term and turn the equation upside down: the interest rate, and so the rate of inflation, has to be established in function of the level of employment and economic growth, not vice versa.

I really hope Draghi figures something out quickly to ease the credit crunch. I also have another idea that would throw money immediately and more efficiently into the real economy: a fiscal stimulus centered on government spending that provides oxygen to our agonizing economy!


Ieri Mario Draghi ha detto che sta lavorando per assicurarsi che i fondi forniti dalla BCE alle banche finiscano nell’economia reale. Riprendendo ciò che ho già discusso in uno dei miei post precedenti (L’istinto suicida europeo) sulla crisi dell’Euro, questa notizia non è che un altro esempio di come la politica monetaria da sola abbia fallito nel tirarci fuori da questa terribile situazione.

Allora, una tipica spiegazione da manuale di economia dice: in tempi di crisi, le banche centrali forniscono fondi alle banche, che, a loro volta, concedono fondi a società che affrontano gravi problemi finanziari. L’economia comincia a risollevarsi, ma il tasso d’inflazione aumenta in seguito all’aver pompato nuovo denaro nell’economia. Ora, come fa la BCE a decidere il livello ottimale di moneta (tagliando il tasso d’interesse) da riversare nell’economia? La decisione è frutto di un compromesso con il livello “accettabile” di inflazione.

L’articolo 127 del Trattato sul Funzionamento dell’Unione Europea afferma chiaramente che l’obiettivo principale della BCE è di mantenere stabile il livello dei prezzi. Inoltre, la soglia che la BCE stabilisce come livello “accettabile” di inflazione è 2%. In pratica, la BCE regola il tasso d’interesse in funzione del raggiungimento di un’inflazione al 2% nel medio termine.

Come mai oggi, nonostante la BCE abbia tagliato il tasso d’interesse ad un livello senza precedenti (0.75%), l’economia non dà segni di ripresa, le imprese non riescono ad ottenere i fondi di cui hanno tanto bisogno e il tasso d’inflazione è il calo invece di essere schizzato in orbita?

Perché ci troviamo in una situazione di trappola della liquidità! In altre parole, il meccanismo del tipico testo di economia è andato in tilt. La BCE ha, infatti, fornito fondi alle banche, ma queste ultime non hanno fatto prestito alle imprese, aggravando così la condizione di ristrettezza del credito. Ciò avviene perché le banche sono preoccupate della solvibilità di imprese con problemi finanziari e quindi preferiscono comprare titoli di stato o accumulare liquidità per periodi di vacche magre (o meglio magrissime). Questo spiega anche il trend in discesa del tasso d’inflazione: i fondi della BCE non arrivano all’economia reale e quindi la quantità di moneta in circolazione non aumenta.

Paradossalmente, Germania&Co- come ho definito il gruppo di nazioni pro-austerità- vedono positivamente il livello di inflazione al ribasso. Come ho scritto nel mio post precedente, Mercantilismo, psicosi da austerità e la necessità di una più forte BCE, il nostro problema oggi non è l’inflazione ma la deflazione e, come mostra il grafico, sembra che quella possa essere la direzione verso cui siamo diretti. Dobbiamo abituarci all’idea di avere un livello di inflazione “accettabile” più alto almeno nel medio periodo e capovolgere l’equazione: il tasso d’interesse, e quindi l’inflazione, deve essere stabilito in funzione del livello di occupazione e crescita, e non viceversa.

Spero che Draghi trovi in fretta una soluzione per risolvere il problema della ristrettezza del credito. Io ho un’altra idea che fornirebbe fondi immediatamente e più efficientemente nell’economia reale: uno stimolo fiscale incentrato sulla spesa che darebbe ossigeno alla nostra agonizzante economia!

Mercantilism, Austerity Psychosis, and the Need for a Stronger ECB – Mercantilismo, psicosi da austerità e la necessità di una più forte BCE

from: fairandunbalancedblog.blogspot.com

This post is the second of a series on the European economic crisis. In the previous post I pointed out one of the reasons why the EU failed to respond to the crisis and I advocated for the development of a common European fiscal policy.

I also briefly discussed the flawed approach to the crisis pushed by Germany&Co, and I’d like to go a little bit more in depth here. Let’s start with two facts: 1) Germany runs a neo-mercantilist policy, namely it concentrates its economic growth on export capacities at the detriment of domestic consumption; 2) Germany’s core trade partners are European countries, with 57% of all goods delivered to the member states of the European Union. This policy automatically creates trade imbalances for the other European countries. The figure below illustrates German exports’ growth and the concomitant increase of periperical countries’ trade deficits, namely the so called GIPSI (Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and Italy).


The German mercantilism is evidently an unsustainable economic policy at European level, inasmuch as German surpluses are other countries’ deficits. Unfortunately, the advocates for austerity favored another version that considered GIPSI’s fiscal troubles as the essential cause of the European crisis. Figure 2, however, shows us that the trend of debt-to-GDP ratios in GIPSI countries was stable until 2008, the year in which it actually exploded.


As Paul Krugman puts it in End This Depression Now!:

“So here’s Europe’s Big Delusion: it’s the belief that Europe’s crisis was essentially caused by fiscal irresponsibility. Countries ran excessive budget deficits, the story goes, getting themselves too deep into debt- and the important thing now is to impose rules that will keep this from ever happening again. […] As a result, the problem of dealing with the crisis is often couched in moral terms: nations are in trouble because they have sinned, and they must redeem themselves through suffering.”

This is not to neglect the importance of domestic debt for which serious measures need to be taken (just not during a period of crisis, but rather during booms). What I want to point out here is the weaknesses in the German&Co approach to solve the crisis. Besides pushing for austerity measures, Germany has also criticized Mario Draghi, the President of the ECB, when he announced that he would have bought an unlimited amount of government bonds to reassure the markets and lower the borrowing cost for GIPSI.

Along with the absence of a European fiscal policy the lack of a lender of last resort is, indeed, the second major weakness of the European system. But why did Germany oppose Draghi? Again, because of the German austerity psychosis. German representatives affirmed that these interventions would have brought high inflation. Because of the historical legacy of hyperinflation that occurred in the 1920s, Germans tend to see inflation even when there isn’t any trace of it. The danger today is indeed the opposite and much more troublesome, namely deflation. In times of crisis (as I have already pointed out in the previous post) demand goes down, investments go down, and therefore consumption go down. This downward spiral brings prices down, not up, and results in years of stagnation.

So far Germany has reaped the benefits of the EMU. It’s time to understand the monetarist policy is unsustainable for the rest of the members of the Union. What is the way out? First of all, again, develop a common fiscal policy and launch a fiscal stimulus in lieu of austerity measures. Second, give more power to the ECB in order to let it act as a lender of last resort (more similar to the Fed) and accept the idea of having somewhat higher levels of inflation at least in the short term (instead of raising the interest rate in the midst of a crisis because of the inflation paranoia). Third, countries with large trade surpluses should increase their demands for imports from countries with high deficits, so to adjust trade imbalances.


Questo post è il secondo di una serie sulla crisi economica europea. Nel post precedente, ho descritto una delle ragioni per cui l’UE non è riuscita a rispondere alla crisi e mi sono espresso a favore dello sviluppo di una politica fiscale europea.

Ho anche discusso brevemente la debolezza dell’approccio di Germania&Co, e toccherò quest’aspetto un po’ più dettagliatamente in questo post. Incominciamo da due fatti: 1) la Germania conduce una politica neo-mercantilista, ovvero punta alla crescita economica concentrando le capacità produttive nell’export a discapito del consumo interno; 2) I principali partner commerciali tedeschi sono i Paesi membri dell’UE, che ricevono il 57% dell’export tedesco. Questa politica crea automaticamente squilibri commerciali negli altri Paesi europei. Il grafico qui sotto illustra la crescita dell’export tedesco e la concomitante crescita dei deficit commerciali nei Paesi della periferia, ovvero i cosiddetti GIPSI (Grecia, Irlanda, Portogallo, Spagna e Italia).


Il mercantilismo tedesco è evidentemente insostenibile a livello europeo, in quanto il surplus tedesco corrisponde al deficit degli altri Paesi. Sfortunatamente, i promotori dell’austerità hanno invece preferito dare un’altra versione della crisi, considerando i problemi fiscali dei GIPSI come la causa essenziale dei problemi europei. Il secondo grafico, però, mostra che il trend del rapporto debito-PIL nei GIPSI è rimasto stabile fino al 2008, l’anno in cui è invece esploso.


Come descrive Paul Krugman in Fuori da questa crisi, adesso!:

“Ecco qui la Grande Delusione europea: è la convinzione che la crisi sia stata causata essenzialmente da politiche fiscali irresponsabili. La storiella ci dice che i Paesi hanno mantenuto livelli di deficit fiscali troppo alti e si sono ritrovati con debiti troppo elevati. La cosa importante, ora, è imporre regole in modo tale che situazioni del genere non succedano mai più. […] Il risultato è che questi problemi vengono spesso trattati da un punto di vista morale: i Paesi sono nei guai perché hanno peccato e quindi devono redimersi attraverso la sofferenza”.

Con questo non intendo negare l’importanza del debito nazionale per cui ci vogliono misure serie (ma non durante un periodo di crisi, bensì di boom economico). Ciò che voglio dimostrare qui è la velleità con cui Germania&Co tentano di risolvere la crisi. A parte promuovere politiche di austerità, la Germania ha criticato Mario Draghi, il Presidente della BCE, nel momento in cui aveva annunciato di voler comprare illimitatamente titoli di Stato per rassicurare i mercati e ridurre lo spread dei GIPSI.

Insieme all’assenza di una politica fiscale europea, la mancanza di un “prestatore di ultima istanza” è infatti la seconda maggiore debolezza del sistema europeo. Ma perché la Germania s’è opposta a Draghi? Ancora una volta, a causa della sua psicosi da austerità: i rappresentanti tedeschi hanno affermato che tali interventi avrebbero portato ad alti livelli di inflazione. Il retaggio storico dell’iperinflazione degli anni Venti, porta i tedeschi a vedere inflazione anche dove non ce n’è traccia. Il pericolo oggi è infatti l’opposto ed anche più critico, ovvero la deflazione. In periodi di crisi (come ho già descritto nel post precedente) la domanda decresce, gli investimenti scendono e i consumi si riducono. Questa spirale verso il basso porta i prezzi in giù, non in su, e il risultato sono anni di stagnazione.

Finora la Germania ha beneficiato dell’ UME. E’ arrivato il momento di capire che la politica neo-mercantilistica non è sostenibile per il resto dei membri dell’Unione. Qual è la via d’uscita? Prima di tutto, ancora una volta, sviluppare una politica fiscale comune e lanciare un programma di stimoli fiscali abbandonando l’austerità. Secondo, dare più poteri alla BCE per permettere di agire come un “prestatore di ultima istanza” (più simile alla Federal Reserve) e accettare l’idea di avere livelli di inflazione un po’ più alti almeno nel breve periodo (invece di alzare i tassi di interesse nel bel mezzo di una crisi a causa della paranoia per l’inflazione). Terzo, i Paesi con surplus commerciali dovrebbero incrementare la domanda per import da parte dei Paesi con alti deficit, in modo da riequilibrare la bilancia commerciale.