Italian debt yields are back over 6 percent. So France and Germany react by announcing that Sunday’s last-chance saloon summit on European debt and economic restructuring will go ahead, but won’t reach any decisions. Instead there might be another summit on Wednesday. Or Thursday. Or next weekend. Maybe Sarko and Merkel are hoping the markets will really fall apart so they can be seen to be forced to do something. This is the most likely endgame. But of course if they are forced by a market crisis, France and Germany will react with a bail-out package rather than a new political agreement that puts the EU on a sustainable track to being the world’s most desirable economic bloc to live in. That would involve a political and institutional agreement, not a conclave of thieving banker types trying to structure the EFSF in a sufficiently complex way that the world is conned into thinking that all is well.
While pondering this, I check the press at the end of the day and am saddened to discover that Berlusconi is dead. ‘Maverick dictator with little regard for reality’ says the headline of the obit in the FT (sub needed). It is a bit tough to say of a deceased G8 leader that he ‘had a grandiose vision of himself and of his country’s place in history’. None the less, Italians certainly ‘were impoverished and repressed by his policies but nonetheless forced to pay homage to the illusion that he was a political visionary’. However, surely the FT has got it wrong with the claim that Berlusconi was born in a tent near Sirte in 1942? Wasn’t he born in Milan in 1936?