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5. Alberto Mingardi: Italy
The euro crisis has been one of the best recent illustrations of governments mismanaging economies. However, despite politicians being the cause of many of Europe’s current miseries, many in Europe still insist on advocating for government solutions, with “austerity” being met with protests across the continent.
Thankfully there are some who speak out against the knee-jerk tendency in Europe to look to the state for solutions. Alberto Mingardi is the director general of Istituto Bruno Leoni, Italy’s free-market think tank, and adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute. Mingardi is a refreshing voice of reason when it comes to the euro crisis. In an article for Forbes from last July Mingardi nicely illustrated how absent the necessary political culture is in Europe:
European governments are large and intrusive. Neither Italy, France nor Spain, let alone Greece, has ever known the kind of privatization cure Margaret Thatcher administered to Britain, though it should be said that Italy privatized rather extensively, in the 1990s. Despite that, the state owns insurance companies, stakes in major energy companies, the postal service, the train service, local transportation, a cornucopia of local “public services” not particularly renowned for their efficiency in delivering—but obviously dear to the political class, as a means to keep their grip on the Italian economy. The same can be said for other Mediterranean countries.
What is indeed astonishing is that, in this context, nobody seems to be ready to try the straightforward device to trim the public debt by virtue of selling the huge Italian state holdings or severely cutting public spending. Instead, the political class seeks to squeeze its already highly taxed citizens like lemons.
Some have declared the euro crisis over. The rest of 2013 will almost certainly prove the opposite. As the euro crisis continues, good analysis and commentary from a libertarian and European perspective will become increasingly sought after, as well as increasingly vindicated. Libertarians should feel reassured that Alberto Mingardi will continue to provide a voice of sanity on a continent that has mostly gone mad.