9 October 2018   Leave a comment

Along with the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi and the resignation of Interpol President, Meng Hongwei, under mysterious conditions in China, we have the savage rape and murder of Viktoria Marinova, an investigative journalist in Bulgaria, the third murder of an investigative reporter in Europe this year.   According to the Washington Post:

“Transparency International, a global corruption watchdog, has identified Bulgaria as the most corrupt member state in the European Union. Reporters Without Borders ranked it 111th out of 180 countries in its annual world press freedom index, the lowest in the European Union.”

Reporters without Borders identifies 57 journalists killed in 2018, as well as 10 citizen journalists and 4 media assistants.  Investigative reporting is one of the most important elements of a liberal society.  It is clear that those in power have decided that there are no consequences to eliminating a free press, and those who should be most supportive of a free press in the world have decided to be silent in the crimes. 

We need to keep our eyes on the Italian economy.  It is one of the largest economies in the European Union (EU) and is currently led by a coalition government that seems to be contemptuous of EU rules.   The Italian government has announced plans for significant increases in spending, even though the Italian economy remains sclerotic. The European Commission has issued stern warnings against these plans, but the Deputy Prime Minister, Matteo Salvini, rejected those warnings.  According to the Australian Economic Review:

Yields on Italy’s 10-year debt spiked to 3.62 per cent after the League strongman and deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, vowed to sweep away the existing European -order. He called Jean-Claude Juncker and his Commission aides ‘enemies of Europe barricaded inside their Brussels bunker'”.

The Italian government is comprised of a eurosceptic party, the 5-Star Movement  and a right wing party called the League.  The plans for spending are a direct challenge to the EU which the parties blame for the slow Italian economy.  The plans are quite substantial:

“Italy’s populist coalition is targeting a deficit of 2.4% of GDP next year, tripling the previous government’s target, as it pledges more spending despite a huge debt pile, which at about 130% of GDP is the biggest in the eurozone behind Greece.”

The plans have frightened investors, who demanded higher yield rates on Italian bonds as protection against a government default on those bonds.  The rates are at a 4 year high and unsustainable unless Italian economic growth were to miraculously pick up dramatically.   If the Italian government defaults on those bonds, there would be great panic in European financial markets. 

Posted October 9, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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