News Release

Analysts: Bankers Take over Italy and Greece


COSTAS PANAYOTAKIS, [in NYC] cpanayotakis at
Panayotakis is associate professor of sociology at the New York City College of Technology at CUNY and author of the forthcoming book “Remaking Scarcity: From Capitalist Inefficiency to Economic Democracy.” He said today: “The rise of bankers and unelected technocrats to power in Greece and Italy shows how the unfolding crisis of the eurozone is undercutting democracy. In fact, for the first time since military dictatorship came to an end in Greece in 1974, the new government formed there at the behest of European leaders includes the extreme right, with its racist, anti-immigrant descendants of the Greek colonels. This government will continue the same austerity policies that have already failed, as manifested by Greece’s need for a second bailout and the fact that these policies have neither contained the crisis to Greece nor prevented it from spreading across Europe. The downward spiral of the Greek economy and the escalation of popular protest in that country prefigures what is to come in the rest of the continent.” Panayotakis’ latest piece is “The Greek Crisis Intensifies.

ANTONIO TRICARICO, [in Rome] atricarico at
Tricarico is coordinator of the Italian NGO CRBM (Campaign for World Bank Reform) based in Rome and has been the economic correspondent of Il Manifesto at several international summits. Tricarico said today: “The proposed new coalition government headed by Mario Monti can be a fatal trap for Italy’s future. If most of political forces from the right and the left would support it, the European Commission and the European Central Bank — whose agenda Monti represents — will rule Italy without any opposition for the years to come, beyond any minimum standard of democratic accountability. The planned additional austerity measures — including privatization of public assets and drastic cuts to public expenses for social welfare — will drive Italy into a recession, more public debt and even a default if the domestic banking system collapses.

“Now that the buffoon Berlusconi is out, the lack of credibility lies not with Italy but with the European institutions and the German government. A radical U-turn is needed in European politics, against the blackmail of financial markets, before it is too late. The only way out for Italy, as well as Greece and other Southern European governments, is to openly question the failure of the European Central Bank and the European Commission to address the crisis so far. These institutions have to be brought back under democratic and public control and redirected to financially support European governments in difficulty.”

Engel-Di Mauro is editor of the book The European’s Burden: Global Imperialism in EU Expansion. He is also associate professor of geography at SUNY New Paltz and editor of the journal Capitalism Nature Socialism. He said today: “The last time interim governments were ushered in because of a coalition breakdown, it meant cuts in social spending and new laws permanently affecting government budgets. One example — raising the age of and cuts in pensions and giving more weight to private contributions — has resulted in huge pension disparities. All this was done under the unelected governments of Dini and then Amato and D’Alema in the 1990s and early 2000s. The 1990s “centre-left” Prodi government (which included communist parties) exacerbated previous budget cuts imposed by the early Berlusconi and prior technocratic administrations, introduced more privatization of state assets and services, expanded the range of activities considered “criminal” (contributing to horrific prison overcrowding), further criminalized immigrants (introducing detention and expulsion centers), and participated directly in the bombing of Yugoslavia. These policies show us what the actual priorities have been for the opposition and so we have a virtual guarantee that the Italian state, in the current political climate, will likely become more repressive than it already is and serve more as the armed wing of the European Central Bank and European Commission, which are, it must be emphasized, two unelected bodies.”