Italian Economy and Culture Essay
Italy is a country facing economic and political upheaval. With a Parliament pressing hard to pass reforms designed ultimately for leading to the resignation of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Italy is in fact a country in economic turmoil. If we evaluate the state of the economy, it does leave little room to deny this current economic crisis has been years in the making. So now, it will be left to a new Prime Minister to solve financial problems decades in the making that are central to the debt crisis now dragging down the European — and the global –economies.
Just this month we have witnessed, hundreds of protesters, most of them young people, demonstrating outside the Treasury Ministry building, protesters were hoisting banners denouncing the Italian president of the European Central. Given most of the efforts being taken to reduce the swelling deficit are directly aimed at the pockets of the people. Can you really blame them? Some of the hard number as found on www. cnn. com (This is reflective of the time this paper was written Mid-November). The budget deficit for Italy fell from 5. 4% of GDP in 2009 to 4. 6% in 2010. This was determined as due to a combination of GDP growth of 1. %, fueled by a 9. 1% rise in exports and a 1. 0% rise in household spending, as well as the government’s spending cuts. In July and August of this year, the bond market put Italy and, to a lesser extent, Spain, in its crosshairs, driving up bond yields so high that the ECB was forced to intervene, resuming its controversial bond purchasing tactic. Its support was conditional on Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government pushing through a number of reforms, including an austerity package to eliminate the deficit by 2013 – which would have been a year ahead of the schedule already in place.
The measure has been approved by the Senate; it now awaits confirmation in the Chamber of Deputies. The Italy cabinet has also passed a draft a German-style constitutional amendment to legally require a balanced budget from 2014 (It’s worth noting – Spain’s parliament has already approved a similar measure), and another to end provincial governments in order to cut down on administrative costs. However, the government has so far failed to introduce the structural reforms needed to boost Italy’s growth — now estimated to be around 1. 0% this year.
Italy’s debt stands at 1. 9 trillion EU ($2. 6 trillion US), or 120% of gross domestic product. Compare that to the combined Greece, Ireland and Portugal’s debt – around 640 billion as at full year 2010, according to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Italy faces around 380 billion in bond repayments and deficit costs by the end of 2012, according to Evolution Securities’ analyst Elisabeth Afseth. Its next major payment is 26 billion, due in February next year. With its funding costs now over 7%, that could prove a huge hurdle.
The oft-quoted 7% figure is, by and large, arbitrary. It is regarded as the level at which countries can no longer fund themselves – but depends on how long it stays at that level and how much the country needs to raise. Italy, ministers are scheduled to sign off on a package of tax increases and spending cuts in the upcoming weeks. Some of the expected measures include an increase in the retirement age for many workers, a hike in income tax for higher income brackets and new taxes on private assets and housing.
The measures come at the start of one of the most crucial weeks since the creation of the single currency more than a decade ago with European leaders due to meet in Brussels to try to agree a broader rescue plan for the bloc. Italy, with a public debt of around 120 percent of gross domestic product, has been at the heart of Europe’s debt crisis. Adoption of the package is seen as vital for re-establishing Italy’s shattered credibility with financial markets after a series of unfulfilled promises by the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Unions said the cuts will hit poorer workers hard but there is little choice in the matter, a plan is in the works with the expectation of approval in parliament before Christmas. For Italy, the choice isn’t between a light package and a tough package; it’s between a tough package today and the risk of bankruptcy for the country tomorrow. This package represents a last attempt by the EU union to restore confidence and show that even in these volatile markets Italy can pull through. One could argue though when a countries bonds yield hit 7% it is extremely difficult to pull them back.
To many investors it is seen as a “point of no return. ” Which then leads to the question, “Will the EU survive? ”. Only time will tell…. Italy Culture Italy is a country located in Southern Europe and shares its boarders with a number of countries that have impacted the culture of Italy today. This helps us understand why many areas of the country will differ in beliefs, food and even the language they speak. Italian is of course the official language of Italy, and according to Vistawide. om (a site dedicated to language facts) 93% of population natively speak the language. Around 50% of the population speaks a regional dialect which they regard as their mother tongue. Many of these dialects are mutually unintelligible and thus considered by linguists as separate languages, but are not even officially recognized. One such example is Friulian, have you ever heard of such a dialect, this dialect is spoken by 600,000 people in the north east of Italy, which is equivalent to 1% of the entire population.
Other northern minority languages include Ladin, Slovene, German, which enjoys equal recognition with Italian in the province of Alto-Adige, and French, which is legally recognized in the Alpine region of the Val d’Aosta. Albanian is spoken by 0. 2% of the population, mainly in the southern part of Italy, as too are Croatian and Greek. Catalan is spoken in one city, Alghero, on the island of Sardinia, by around 0. 07% of the population. On the rest of the island, Sardinian is spoken by over 1m, which comes to 1. 7% of the Italian population.
When all is said and done Italy offers a large array of dialects to enjoy while traveling the country. Italy is nearly the same size as Arizona. Could you imagine hearing this many sets of languages in a single US State! Map showing Italy’s boarders: We could certainly never discuss the Italian culture without inserting some definitive ideology they continue to maintain today regarding “Family Values”. In Italy it goes without saying the family unit is the center of the social structure and provides an incredible influence for its members.
The family unit is so strong that we living here in the US culture would struggle to understand. In the north, generally only the immediate family lives together; while in the south, the extended family often resides together in one house (much like we can observe in many Asian cultures). The family provides both emotional and even financial support to its members. Next, when examining the lively hood and overall cultural influences in Italy, one can come to quickly recognize the immense importance of “La Bell Figura” in Italy. Bella Figura means “the beautiful figure” but is truly much more than that.
The Italian society actually views it as a way of life emphasizing beauty, good image, aesthetics and proper behavior. Italy is after all, a place of grandeur and elegance and this can be seen in even the smallest of details. Take for example, the uniforms of the Italian policemen, soldiers, and carabinieri (special branch of the military) are far more stylish and elegant than those of other countries. Uniforms of the Carabinieri: One could say, even the trash collectors are more fashionable in their immaculate white coveralls.
In addition, to being well dressed and well groomed, Italians will surround themselves with beauty. Italian cars are known for their exquisite design and beauty. Gardens and architecture are vibrant, alive and beautiful. The art, history, architecture, fashion and fine wines of Italy are undisputed. There’s an inherent sense of appreciation for color, design and form throughout all of Italy. Italy is certainly known as the fashion center of the world and nearly everyone dresses the part. Tourists can’t compete when it comes to Italian fashion.
Chances are when someone is spotted that is less than fashionable looking, they are likely a tourist. Glamour, simple elegance and high fashion are the norm in Rome and Milan and other cities throughout Italy. The Italian’s feel when the right combination of shoes, hat, accessories and color come together, one is considered to have achieved personal La Bella Figura. Some samples from the 2011 Calliope catalog: But La Bella Figura is largely viewed as more than merely dressing well, looking good and admiring fine art. It is an etiquette system as well.
La Bella Figura also means acting properly, knowing the rules of etiquette, presenting oneself with, and being aware of, the proper nuances Italian society demands. It is how to act and how to behave under particular circumstances. Its knowing what is appropriate and when, its knowing what is of high quality and taste versus what is too cheap. La Bella Figura represents a window with a view of a philosophy thoroughly entrenched in the culture of Italy, especially in the southern portion of the country. It is believed that practicing La Bella Figura helps to enhance beauty and peace in the world around us.