Saturday, March 10, 2012

International Monetary Fund Head Makes Encouraging Remarks About Italian Economy Turning Around

Posted by Peter Quennell

Nervous Italians with resources have in recent months been moving major sums to the UK and investing in the property market in London.

A recent survey published by agency Knight Frank shows that Italians have overtaken Russians as the leading buyers of prime London property. Since January, they have accounted for eight per cent of all sales in the area. Last year it was the Greeks, who more than doubled their spending on prime London as riots raged across Athens. This year, it is their cousins across the Adriatic who are opening their chequebooks. The total spend for Italians in prime London is estimated to be £408m for 2011, up from £185m in 2010…

Economic reports worsen daily. The Bank of Italy forecast the Italian economy to contract by 1.5 per cent this year, while employment is shrinking at its fastest rate since July 2009. The eurozone as a whole continues to be locked in crisis. Successive rescue packages have failed to improve things, and German lawmakers are reported to be preparing for Greece’s departure from the euro. Where Greece leads, there is a risk Spain, Portugal and Italy will follow…

Italians with the resources to do so have been taking their money out of the country as fast as they can. And where better to head than London? The capital’s history, shopping, culture and nightlife, as well as Britain’s reliable legal system, make it the clear target for a safe property investment.

Still, £408m is a drop in the bucket compared to the $2 trillion Italian economy.  And that take on the economy is somewhat behind the curve. Bloomberg business news reports that Italian government bond sales are now going really well.

Italian 10-year bonds rose for a ninth week, the longest run of gains since 1998, as the European Central Bank signaled the economy is stabilizing and Greece won the world’s biggest sovereign-debt restructuring.

And of Prime Minister Mario Monti, Christine Lagarde of the IMF just had this to say.

At a dinner for delegates to the Women in the World Summit in New York City on Thursday night, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde singled out one man as a beacon of hope in the bleak global economy.

Since the technocrat Mario Monti replaced the infamously irresponsible Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in November, Italy is no longer the most disastrous problem facing the European economy, she said.

The trust of investors is being restored and “it could well be that Italy is going to be the light of the European tunnel,” said Lagarde. “I would not short Italy, at all.”

Nobody responded yet to European leaders’ recent loud lament that austerity programs will not turn Europe around and a stronger sense of how growth works is required.

Next week we’ll give it a shot!

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/10/12 at 01:29 PM in The wider contextsItalian context


I AM IN ENGLAND! the land of Meredith and all things lovely. Spent two weeks in London, hotel in Bayswater on Queensborough Terrace where I got on the hop on hop off bus every day when I wasn’t hailing taxi. Saw Trafalgar Square. They were breaking ice on the fountains there. I passed the Royal Horse Guards and Buckingham Palace, St. Ermine’s Hotel, Victoria Station, Mayfair and the Grosvenor houses. Charing Cross station, St. Pancras, British Library, and ate a lot of fish and chips at Black Lion Pub. I watched a lot of soccer on SkyNews big screen telly in hotel lobby in the evenings, drinking coffee. Shopped on Oxford Street.

I saw Agatha Christie’s play, The Mousetrap, at St. Martin’s Theatre.  There were Greek protestors near National Gallery and St. Martin’s in the Fields.

I took train from Paddington Station to Penzance and have rented a cottage on the Cornish coast for a few weeks. St. Paul’s was one of my favorite places in London, despite Occupy Wall Street tents in front of the steps. Hyde Park was covered in snow! They had an arctic blast in February. I liked Marble Arch and Marylebone and Regent Street and had fun buying a pipe and deerstalker hat at Sherlock Holmes Museum, 221B Baker Street. I had such a blast.

I have been without computer since I flew into Gatwick on January 31. Today I’m in Penzance internet cafe sending this. I’m badly behind on TJMK news, but lo and behold on a cold February day as I lay on bed in my London hotel room reading a British paper, what should I see but news that Amanda had signed a book deal for $4million with Harper Collins? Shocking. That didn’t make my holiday any happier, but I guess she’s working on her novel of fantasy now. Please don’t believe everything you see in print.

I did not go to Croydon, but I am impressed at what it takes to be a Londoner. I could barely figure out the Tube. I saw London Eye, London Aquarium, Big Ben, Tower of London, and Vauxhall and Westminster. I attended church on a snow covered Sunday at The Temple in Courts of Justice area near Thames.

As a newbie I sensed that London city life is demanding and stressful, fast paced and crowded. Yet the English people are the friendliest, most stoic, cheery, stiff upper lipped folks I’ve ever met. They say ‘Brilliant’ a lot, and ‘Cheerio’ when they part. They must get their reputation for personal bravery honestly. I found not a sourpuss among them. Cornish folks are kind, too, and what gorgeous skin everyone has, perfect complexions. There’s very little obesity. There’s a high level of civility and good manners. What a shock Amanda’s behavior must have been to Meredith. Even in the pubs people here talk quietly and rarely draw attention to themselves. Everyone seems to have a positive attitude. I haven’t heard one curse word in weeks. England has been such a pleasant change from the cell phone harried States and loudmouths. Sadly, I feel much more like a foreigner here than I thought I would, but I’m lovin it.

Cheerio, even the taxi drivers keep smiling and nobody has self-pity or at least nobody shows it, no complaining. It’s bracing and humbling, a good example. I watch David Cameron and Ed Miliband on BBC News and strange TV fare like Russian News. Best of all, old Inspector Morse shows and Poirot. I had always wanted to see London footloose and fancy free, and I credit Peter Quennell’s international savoir faire and his positive energy along with his and PMF websites focused on Meredith case which kept my focus on the U.K. for last several years. This influence ultimately helped me find the courage to fly to London for a once in a lifetime Queen Latifah ‘Last Holiday’.

Posted by Hopeful on 03/10/12 at 05:26 PM | #


Nice to know that you are having a blast in London.

I learnt a lot about London, when I was younger, from many detective novels and stories. Those days almost all detective stories had some or other connection with London and I had the feeling that London is the crime capital of the world.

Then sometime later I got hooked on PG Wodehouse. That was my introduction to the foreign culture! So when I visited London (that is also quite sometime now) I did not feel like a stranger at all. Indeed, if you like New York, you will love London.

I still remember one American student gave me a hat; she told me without a hat I will be considered naked. I lost my hat in London.

I am planning to go once more to London: just waiting for the Olympics to get over. I hope the city will still be spanking clean.


Teachers have class.

Posted by chami on 03/10/12 at 06:01 PM | #


It will be suicide if the Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain drop out of the Euro business. Germany lives on Turkish labour and France has her own share of immigrants. What will remain of the Eurozone?

Of course this is game of chess: you pretend that you are going to do this and do that; but you are only watching the reactions!

Now that our beloved Berlusconi is no more in power, the powerful men and women of Italia are naturally trying to save their life’s savings! It was expected, isn’t it? US is no more the preferred destination of hard earned savings (they are so finicky, just like are our lovely Amanda!). The Brits understand business.

Anyway, the figure must be a gross underestimate.

Mubarak’s granddaughter must be feeling depressed.

Q: What’s wrong with lawyer jokes?
A: Lawyers don’t think they’re funny, and nobody else thinks they’re jokes.

Posted by chami on 03/10/12 at 06:27 PM | #

@ Hopeful

So am I ! What a coincidence ! Now that I´ve finished my degree I´m spending a few weeks attending lectures as a guest at the University of Durham. Had to travel a long way from the south of Germany to get here . As an English major I am finally discovering the land of Jane Austen, the Brontes , Henry Fielding and all my other favourite or less favourite novelists whose works I had to grind my way through in order to pass.
And this is of course the country Meredith Kercher came from. I remembered her when our car drove past Leeds, the place where she studied before leaving for Perugia.

Posted by aethelred23 on 03/12/12 at 01:27 AM | #

Just remind everyone AK herself and her family will not see (or at least very little) of the money offered for her sic; memoir. It all goes to promote the book and pay the ghost writer. I speak from practicable experience since in order to try and get mine out there, through my book publishers in London UK they wanted it ‘doodied’ up a bit. So they found me a ghost writer who practically destroyed the thing by making it palatable for grandma Moses in pumpkin center Iowa. No AK and company will not see much of the loot if any and in consequence will still owe most of it. Only if the book sells and the only way that will work is if AK gets deported.
Cheers everyone

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 03/12/12 at 08:17 PM | #

Hi Hopeful. That brought a big smile and I think Meredith’s circle will appreciate all of that. I think you captured why humorless abrasiveness does not go over at all well.

Very interesting all the London places that you have already taken in. The V&A museum in South Kensington was included too? If you want to see good humor on steroids walk or stay south of the Thames which is exceptionally cosmopolitan and of course where Meredith was born. The Shakespeare area walking tour which you didnt mention will blow you away.

Theaters are more spread around all over than they are in NYC. They have more experimental theater there including at the Royal Theater across the Thames. The City of London and the Barbican where I completed my MBA is much easier to walk now that most of the suffocating traffic has been cleared out (able to enter but only for a high fee). The Greenwich museum via a cruise down the industrial part of the Thames is good. The Canary Wharf area interested me. Hampton Court and Windsor really blew my wife away, she still burbles about them.

I havent been to Cornwall but one of our main posters just cant keep away. Prince Charles has an experimental development somewhere down there that made a lot of people respect him. Devon I liked, with the high cliffs and Arthur’s castle at Tintagel to the north, white porcelain clay mining somewhere in the center, and Dartmoor (Hound of the Baskervilles) to the south.

Some of the picturesque villages around the New Forest with their thatch and half-timbers are hard to believe and tourists rarely get to see them. Leeds is one of the most colorful of British towns, extremely wealthy in the textile trade days and it still shows. It has a very elaborate series of arcades (see the London and Leeds images via the Concerning Meredith links at top right). 

You might want to take flowers to Meredith’s grave and to meet the vicar there, he knew her well and is said to be a very kind and forthcoming man. Several readers have privately said they were very moved to have done that. And didnt you once send a contribution to the school? It would be interesting to hear about that.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/14/12 at 07:27 PM | #

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