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The future of Car Industry

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Mr. Marchionne, the CEO of Fiat stated, a few months ago, that in Europe there is place only for one automobile manufacturer, while, on the rest of the world there will be only two or three more. This means that the battle will be very hard. We cannot understend the immininent agreement between Chrisler and Fiat without the idea of a car market dominated by a small number of great actors.

Fiat 500 in USA?

The demand of small and eco-compatible cars, in USA, seems to be very strong, on this side of the Atlantic and this seems to be a good deal for the European car industry. One of the main issue is that a lot of manufacturers do not have a distribution network on the US. The eldorado for small cars constructors need to be conquered quickly, but the most of European brands has not dealers in North America and, now that car factories are sold, in USA, such as we were on a sale off, FIAT got his chance. Perhaps, it’s since 2005 that Marchionne’s guys are trying to come back to North America. One of the first ideas circulating in some environment was that FIAT could use the Ferrari dealers network, but it was not so developed as the Chrisler’s one. So, considering all this variable, you might soon find a small and sexy FIAT 500 on Main Street.

Is it Only a Commercial Agreement?

I, actually, do not know. One of the very immediate ideas coming into my mind is that FIAT has desperate need of fresh money. An agreement with a US manufacturer can give the Turin factory the chance to put their hands on the money Team Obama is spending to save the stars&stripes car industry. Otherwise it is very difficult to understand what sense does this decision make. Under the industrial point of view, it makes not sense: it is a common place, for example, that US plants are not tecnologically very developed. So, why should FIAT buy Chrysler?

Fiat Rulez, Maybe

I do not know if FIAT will survive the crisis. The problem is how well the Chrylser operation will work. I do not know. Witch model will Chrysler build? Renamed FIAT ones? who knows. What is important is that the operation will work for everyone.


Written by Francesco Piccinelli Casagrande

04/18/2009 at 12:56 pm

Posted in Politics

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Italian opposition has a new leader, maybe.

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What happened in Italy last week deserves one or two words: the Democratic Party, the main opposition Party in my country has died and rose again with a new leader, Dario Franceschini.

The former leader, Walter Veltroni resigned after the Waterloo of Sardinia’s regional elections: in the island, the former Governor Renato Soru lost to Mr. Cappellacci after a campaign where he had been left alone by the Democrats, while his opponennt was campaigning with Mr. Berlusconi. This led the former candidate Prime Minister to resign after 16 months of leadership. That’s why the National Assembly (a sort of National Committee) elected Franceschini as the new leader of the party.

Why is that so interesting?

First of all because Italy, now, in facing a great deficit of democracy: in my country, the Prime Minister is a sort of Rupert Murdoch in 1:43 scale. Can you imagine the Aussie media tycoon as the Australian Prime Minister? And, what’s more scary, is that, step by step, spaces of democracy are disappearing without a credible and reliable opposition.

Did you know that soldiers are patrolling Italy’s main cities? We are not talking about a kind of National Guard. We are talking about a professional military staff: it’s like if a regiment of US Marines were patrolling Chicago’s streets. And did you know that the Italian government is about to promote rounds run by civilians against street crimes? This particular could be not so important to a non Italian reader. But, in my opinion, the sinister particular is that the last time we had such a phenomenon was under the fascism and organized by a special sector of the Fascist Party: the MVSN. This organization not only went patrolling the streets, but it was useful to keep opposition silent and obedient. The problem is that in 1922 there had been an opposition, today I’m not sure we have it.

Going toward Putin’s Russia?

I’m not sure, but, without any opposition this is more than an option. Mr. Franceschini told about a new shape of authoritarianism which Berlusconi is building up. But Mr. Berlusconi’s responsabilty has to be shared also by the opposition leaders who made no opposition during this one year and half of center right government. The Democratic party is estimated to be at 24% of the electorate, falling from the 34% of tha last general elections. Franceschini is the new leader and the only hope to save the main center left party in Europe. The hope to keep alive the ever since fragile Italian depends on the capcity of the opposition leaders to stay united, not to dig each other the grave.

Written by Francesco Piccinelli Casagrande

02/22/2009 at 9:44 am

The big crisis: why Italy cannot get it.

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The crisis that is hitting the US and worldwide economy will be even harder to be faced in Italy where the Economy is not growing since Sept. 11.

It’s not easy to understand why, anyway, we can try to point out one or two ideas:

1st idea:

Both the major parties are strong in the North and in the south, according to the Italian Interior Minister. Italy is ever since devided in two and the difference between the Mezzogiorno and the rest of Italy is very sensible. I’ve never been there. But it’s enough to cross the border between Tuscany and Lazio to see what I am talking about. This makes impossible for the parties struggling for Palazzo Chigi to write down credible programs and, as a consequence, it makes impossible to take any kind of strategic decision: how might a southern Italy elector take a packager of stumulus to the northern enterprise that can steal money from his unemployment check?

2nd idea:

The second thing coming into my mind is that the status quo is a comfortable way to keep the weak strong powers of Italy (Masonry, Church, Mafia, Bank System,  Italian Industrial Associacion, Unions etc.) at their place of leadership in ruling Italian affairs. The problem is that while in the country money is missing more and more, this is making the Italian informal lobbies even weaker. Italy is like an aquarium with a hole: water is  flowing out and the big dogfishs are swimming in less and less water while they’re eating their very last prey. Waite for a while and you’ll see them die, probably with the last lunch still in their stomach.

What do the two ideas have in common?

They point out the athavic problem of the Italian ruling classes over the last 160 years: LUNGIMIRANCE. Our political class never thought beyond the next election. Lungimirance means braveness to face both the challenge to rule a country made by two different ones and to fight against the thiny strong powers  that want non change to be made.

Written by Francesco Piccinelli Casagrande

02/13/2009 at 6:26 pm

Rest Eluana in Peace

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She’s gone. The news was broad-casted around the world by mainstream media. This means I’m not writing anything new. The Prosecutor of Udine, the town where Eluana had been hosted for her last days, is deciding about making an autopsy on the corpse of the girl. This could make us understand what really was her state in the very last moments.

The Government tried any possible way to stop what by a lot of people, in Italy,  is considered as a murder. They failed. And Italian majorityalso failed in giving Italy what should be a clear, sincere and non ideological debate: in the yesterday session of the Senate, lawmakers went close to the rumble using inappropriate tones for a discussion that can wound Italy for a long time to go.

It’s impossible for an Italian blogger to have access to the political polls during the electoral campaign (we have elections in Sardinia, we are approaching European elections and a lot of local administrations have to be renewed), but the feeling is that the country is divided. And, thanks to the non conciliatory statementmade by one Mr. Berlusconi’s party Senator, Italy will remain divided for a while.

I’ve been a supporter of Mr. Englaroever since. I repspect his strong will to put the question of the end of life in the middle of the Italian debate about bioethicsand instead switching off the machines on his own (such as a lot of people do in Italy). Let’s mourn Eluana waiting for tha authopsy on her body.

This is the last post about Eluana Englaro, but this story was, is and will be a very severe test for the conscience of Italians and, of course, for mine.

Written by Francesco Piccinelli Casagrande

02/10/2009 at 9:15 am

About Eluana: What’s going on in Italy

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I’m not sure if the Persistent Vegetative State is life or not. What I’m sure about is that what’s going on in Italy at the moment has nothing to deal with the Eluana Englaro‘s tragedy.

This unfortunate girl was involved in a car accident in 1992 and never woke up from her coma.  I do not remember the first time I’ve seen her father on television, but it’s nearby six years he’s fighting to switch off the machines that are keeping alive his beloved daughter. This business involved the Italian judiciary system while the Parliament and the Government kept themselves silent. On July 2008, the Appeal Court of Milan authorized Beppino Englaro to interrupt the force-feeding of Eluana. The Prosecutor of Milan had recourse to the Corte di Cassazione, the Italian Supreme Court, who confirmend the decision of the Milan Court of Appeal.

The Italian center-right Government has never hidden his disappointment about the decision of the Italian courts, but what happened in this few days is out of every logic: Mr. Berlusconi signed an act to avoid the death of Eluana. The problem is that every single act of the Government has to be signed by the President of the Republic unless it’s constitutionally illegal.

That’s why Mr. Napolitano did not sign Mr. Berlusconi act beginning an arm wrestling between the Executive and the Quirinale that can be lethal for the Italian democracy. Here we have one of the three power of the state who wants to re-write the Check&Balance system foreseen in the Italian 1948 Constitution trying to solve once for all the main problem of Silvio Berlusconi: the independence of Italian judges.

It’s a matter of fact that in the last 10 years the reformation of Justice had been the top issue on the center-right coalition’s Agenda: while the country is facing a very hard recession after nearby 10 years of non growing economy, the main problem of Italy is Justice. Ok, we have the slowest trials in the G8 countries, but reforming is different from putting under control.

Signing an act who runs against the decision of a Supreme Court is a serious challenge to the structure of the system in general. Nor Roosveld changed the US Constitution when the Supreme Court pushed back the New Deal. Yes, he changed some judges. But he never violated the main foundations of the system he was elected to lead.

Is that all?

No. we have to understand the role of the Catholic Church in this business. As every respectable Italian, I am Catholic. The problem with tha Catholic Church is that in Rome there is the Holy See, the Vatican State who is a major lobby in my country. I have no problem with lobbies. What I really hate is the chief of one lobby phoning Mr. Berlusconi and dictating him his acts until the last comma.

Ok, the US have the Mormons ruling Utah ever since, The UK has the Queen as the leader of the Anglican Church. But the problem comes when a foreign state (The Vatican) wants to rule one of his boundaries (Italy). Ok, Italy is a limited-sovereignty (we are a NATO, EU, UN etc. country) but the interferences of the Vatican in the last 10-years, missing of an autoritative Government, grew and grew. Now, we really don’t know who is leading this country. I’ve got a my own idea, but it’s better if I keep that idea for me.

Is Eluana’s story about bioethics?

Are you joking? NO! It no longer is a bioethics story. This business is, now, a way to understand who is really ruling Italy and to measure Berlusconi’s political strength at the moment.

One more issue pointed out by this tragedy is that Eluana is just a case in a State that, according tho the World Health Organization has got the best health-care system in the world,  leaves alone a lot of families with their pain. Eluana is not dieing in a public structure and she was not recovered in a public structure before: she slept for 16 years in a private hospital paid by Mr. Englaro.

I don’t know if PVS is life or it isn’t. What I know is that my country will never be the same while the final moments of Eluana are expiring. The debate about bioethics in Italy will go on for a very long time and without any solution while Politics is keeping its own circus who might appear as folklorist to a stranger. But, while Politics is balancing its powers and acts such as it were in the Commedia dell’Arte, people is asking for new decisions for a century full of challenges our country does not seem to be ready to face.

Written by Francesco Piccinelli Casagrande

02/08/2009 at 10:32 am