Schäuble Calls on Italy to Pursue Structural Reform

By Andrea Thomas

July 16 (WSJ) — German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble called on Italy to pursue its ambitious structural reform efforts if it wants to boost its economic-growth prospects. “Especially since growth forecasts for Italy have been reduced recently, it’s important to reform and cut the debt level convincingly,” he said. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has presented ambitious and broad-based reforms, he added. “The Stability and Growth Pact is the foundation for politico-economic cohesion in Europe,” said Mr. Schäuble. “The Stability and Growth Pact provides sufficient flexibility. It’s doesn’t stand in the way of structural reforms; quite the opposite, it promotes them.”

This is a direct response to Prime Minister Renzi who asked for what can be described as a minuscule amount flexibility with the deficit rules. (Note that Schauble didn’t even say said reforms would boost growth, only ‘growth prospects’, whatever that means.)

The problem is that for any given level of govt spending (a political decision) tax liabilities are too high to allow ‘savings desires’ to be accommodated. And ‘the debt level’ is best thought of as the ‘money supply’ (deposits at the CB) that’s the euro ‘savings’/net financial assets of the non govt sectors.

Said another way, the currency itself is the EU’s public monopoly, and the mass unemployment is necessarily the evidence that the monopolist is restricting the ‘supply’ of net financial assets demanded by the economy.

Said another way, for all practical purposes said reforms don’t increase aggregate demand. At best they address what I call distributional issues.

My proposal is for Italy to deliver an ultimatum to the EU giving them 30 days to relax the 3% deficit limit and eliminate the 60% debt/GDP limit.

If the EU refuses, Italy has two choices:

1. Do nothing as the destruction of their civilization continues,

2. Begin taxing and spending in ‘new lira’ with fiscal policy that promotes output and employment.

And note that if they do go to ‘new lira’ and retain their now constitutionally mandated balanced budget requirement, it will all get even worse.