You might think the “euro-crisis” is solved. After all, the economy of the 19-country eurozone expanded at an annual rate of 1.8pc during the first quarter, outpacing Britain and the US. Surveys show French and German growth at a six-year high.
All that fuss about Greece, Portugal and Cyprus going bankrupt, and spreading “financial contagion” across the world, seems over. And Yanis Varoufakis, that dashing Greek academic-turned-finance-minister, who grappled with the German paymasters, has just published his memoirs.
I’m writing this from Rome, where Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi just stepped down as leader of the centre-left Partito Democratico. Italian politics, once again, faces chaos.
Renzi previously resigned as Premier, having lost a botched referendum on constitutional change last December. Once tipped as Italy’s political savior, the 42-year old former Mayor of Florence must now win a renewed leadership battle if he is to restore his political credibility.
I was in Milan last week, giving a talk on Brexit, when news broke that Italy’s biggest bank had lost its chief executive. UniCredit is close to crisis, its share price having plunged 40pc during 2016. The entire Italian banking sector is looking extremely fragile, in fact, with bank share prices down, on average, by a third since the start of the year. You don’t think that matters to the UK? Well, think again.
We’ve heard a lot of blood-curdling statements about “the dangers of Brexit” over recent weeks from the Treasury and the Bank of England, vital institutions which, regrettably, now seem to be entirely politicized. But we hear much less from officialdom about the considerable dangers of staying in the European Union.