Talking Italian

I have had 80s pop hits buzzing around in my head all morning. Remember that classic of the genre from Bananarama -- Talking Italian?

These days talking Italian appears to be synonymous with state interference in business and markets. AT&T has already thrown in the towel and walked away from a major stake in Telecom Italia – it perhaps won’t be long before America Moviles also gets bored with the politics and decides attacks from Prime Minister Prodi and his ministers are unwanted.

There is that line in the Bananarama classic:

I never want this to happen to me.
Don’t try to change me your wasting your time

It could have been sung by Romano Prodi himself about Telecom Italia or Alitalia. The state has decided to try and manipulate the outcome of any M&A regarding these two companies. What’s new? Our Italian analysts on Squawk shrug their shoulders and say that is just how it is at home.

What is more astonishing here is Romano Prodi is a former European Commission President. You remember the commission. It has a remit (among other things) to ensure a level playing field in business practice across the member states. The commission is the mechanism for ensuring that the espoused aims of the European union to create an open internal market free of fear or favor are pursued and achieved.

Hah! What happened to the Lisbon Agenda? Where is the directive/penalty forcing government’s in Europe to stop interfering in the outcome of business deals.

Who is going to throw stones at the Italians? Not the French, er ... or the Germans, er ... or the Spanish and nor latterly the Dutch central bank ... which feels it can influence the ABN Amro bid process.

Didn’t we just celebrate the 50th anniversary of the EU? Its hopes, its ambitions, the desire to see an economic powerhouse created to rival the U.S.

So what kind of club is this where the members ignore the rules to the detriment of all of its citizens?

Reminds me of that other 80’s classic from Johnny Hates Jazz. You remember it?

It was called ‘Shattered Dreams’.

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