The economic evaluation of mini-BOT very much depends on its specific characteristics. Overall it appears to be a blend of an inferior security and inferior money. More important than its specific characteristics is the message that the implementation of the mini-BOT would send about Ital-exit: inevitably, given what the League and its representatives have said and written, the mini-BOT would be seen as a first step in the exit of Italy from the euro, rekindling denomination risk attached to Italian securities.
The vital task confronting Europe is to reconcile citizens’ right to make radical choices with the need to ensure that decisions leading to constitutional change are subject to sufficient public deliberation. The EU and the euro must not be constitutional cages; but nor should they be subject to ill-considered decisions.
The economic agenda of Italian populists is likely to exacerbate rather than alleviate Italy’s longstanding problems. But the piecemeal, small-step approach followed by European and national ruling elites, while perhaps tolerable for countries under normal economic conditions, is insufficient for an Italy stuck in a low-growth-high-debt equilibrium. If defenders of the European project want to regain popularity, they will need to present a clear functioning alternative to setting the house on fire.
Political backlash to slow growth and immigration has produced the least cooperative government imaginable in Italy, a coalition between the left-populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and the right-populist Lega. And borrowing costs have started to rise in reaction. Does this mean that a crisis is imminent? If so, how bad would it be?