Beppe Grillo, the comedian-turned-politician at the head of Italy’s second-most popular party, the Five Star Movement, has gone from being a vague euro-skeptic to an outspoken one. He wrote that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ “refusal to exit the euro was his death sentence” and that Italy should use its debt “as an advantage that allows us to be on the offensive in any future negotiations.” It’s the old saying: if you owe the bank €100, that’s your problem, but if you owe the bank €2 trillion, that’s their problem.
As far as problems go, that’s a pretty big one. It wouldn’t be quite so large, though, if Italy would actually start growing again. More income would mean less of a debt burden, and, in turn, less need for austerity. But it’s just hard to see how that would happen.
Italy’s government still has to cut its budget, and its companies still have to cut their costs to become more competitive, both of which will hurt growth in the short-term.
And, in the meantime, Italy’s anti-austerity party is the only one in Europe willing to point out that the emperor has no growth.