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24 November, 2016

ECB's silent coups - Next victim: Italy

The latest years, democratically elected leaders of EU members have been receiving letters from the European Central Bank (ECB), asking them to impose austerity measures and protect the private banks. Two of them that did not immediately obey, were replaced by former bankers, or ECB executives. The rest, were forced to capitulate when they saw their banking system on bring of total collapse.


2011 was a difficult year for Silvio Berlusconi. Wrapped up in yet another sex scandal, he does not realize that he is about to be overthrown. Berlusconi was one of the worst, most corrupt Italian leaders. However, he was right when he said that he had been chased from power by means of a kind of coup d'état.

Alan Friedman, a Financial Times correspondent at the time, was investigating the revolving doors that connect businessmen and EU officials that participated in Berlusconi's expulsion.

As Friedman reveals: “President Napolitano, as far back as 2011, so, six months before the government fell, had secretly begun talks with Mario Monti, the former European Commissioner, and with a big banker, Corrado Passera, who was the chief executive of the biggest bank in Italy, and he was already planning a new government, a new government policy, a new economic program.”, and “Carlo De Benedetti, the former Olivetti chief, an Italian billionaire, told me how in the summer of 2011, Mario Monti, the former European Commissioner, came to visit him at his house, in the Swiss jet set resort of St. Moritz. And what he came to ask him was advice, saying 'I had this offer to be available to take over as Prime Minister. What should I do?' Former Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, of Italy, told me he had a similar conversation with Monti, also asking for his advice.

Prodi gives blessing to Monti and a prophecy. "When Italian spreads reach 300 units, you will be asked to govern." Italian spreads finally surpassed the 300 units that Prodi predicted, to reach 500. Italy was in face to face with the ghost of bankruptcy. But who triggered this rise?

Either by populism, or by free choice, Berlusconi did not abide by the orders of Germany. He became unpopular, as he challenged austerity policies.

According to Friedman: “Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, had basically decided that Berlusconi had to go. They wanted to change the government of Italy. They wanted to change a democratically elected government.

For Berlusconi's overthrow, an economic hitman is required. He will be searched for initially in the United States and the IMF. The former US Secretary of Treasury, Tim Geithner, revealed that EU officials approached him and asked him to put pressure on Italy. The vehicle of the blackmail would be a loan of 8 billion euro that would be granted by the IMF. Geithner notifies Barack Obama and they decide not to take part in the overthrow plan. Berlusconi's expulsion can only be ensured on the EU officials' behalf by the European Central Bank.

Norbert Häring, president and coordinator of the ECB “shadow council”, reveals: “I think it's pretty clear that the Bank of Italy, with Draghi still president, was helping to force out Berlusconi. Hardly, anybody knows that the national central banks can buy large quantities of government bonds. So, if they sell Italian government bonds and buy, for example, German government bonds, during the year, Italian rates will spike and there will be a problem for the government.

The intervention of Germany, France and the ECB, results finally in the overthrow of 'Cavaliere', in November 2011. And president Napolitano, brings to power the technocrat he had already chosen. Mario Monti, a former consultant of Goldman Sachs, Coca-Cola and Moody's, is the new, non-elected prime minister of Italy. For the international media, he is the "Super Mario" of austerity.

By overthrowing Berlusconi, the EU sent a clear message to the members of the eurozone. But it was not the first nor the last time it intervened in the political and economic life of a member. A year earlier, in 2010, Ireland had also experienced Frankfurt's political blackmail.


Information taken from the new documentary This Is Not A Coup by Aris Chatzistefanou

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