Six years ago Nouriel Roubini was speaking at Davos when he was interrupted by a cry of “Go back to Turkey!” by Italian Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti.
Here’s what Roubini was saying that pissed off the Italian:
My current concerns are that, while EMU has lead to a process of convergence of nominal variables (inflation, interest rates, etc.). it has also been associated with a process of increased divergence in economic performance, especially regarding economic growth rates. This economic performance divergence is a serious problem for some EMU countries (Italy, Portugal, Greece) and it may eventually lead to a collapse of EMU. I am not supportive of such a collapse but, unless appropriate macro and structural economic policies are undertaken, the risk of a break-up becomes serious.
And here’s the conflagration that followed, as described by Roubini days later:
This was the end of my formal remarks at the Davos panel on EMU. But, as I told at the beginning of this blog Minister Tremonti rudely interrupted me while I was presenting my Italy-Argentina comparison shouting: “Thank you for your consideration! Go back to Turkey!!!” I politely replied that I was an independent academic thinker being paid to present sensible analyses and arguments. And I also pointed out that Prime Minister Berlusconi, the boss of Mr. Tremonti, had declared in public that the “Euro has been a disaster for Italy”. At which the minister rudely interrupted me again shouting: “You are independent of logic”. At that point I decided to ignore him and finished my remarks. The only additional observation I can make now is that the minister did not just personally and rudely insulted me; he also insulted Turkey and the Turks, a civilized country that is following much more radical fiscal policies and economic reforms than Italy in order to join the EU. Moreover, such a public temper tantrum by the deputy prime minister of Italy – something apparently common to him as the italian press has reported – is a major embarrassment for Italy; Italy deserves better in terms of who should lead its economy and represent him in international public forums. As many members in the audience expressed their solidarity to me and their scorn of the minister tantrum after the end of the panel, this sad episode is a reflection of the sadder state of economic policy in Italy. And the Italian press, starting with the respected Corriere della Sera, has now reported this sad incident and scorned the minister for publicly embarrassing Italy in a major international forum. Hopefully, since Italy and Italians deserve better rulers than this buffoon that made a fool of himself in public and embarrassed his own entire country, in April they will vote into the dustbin of history this mediocre individual and his entire administration. Certainly with pathetic rulers such himself Italy would be certainly bound to face economic disaster and eventually be forced to ignominiously exit EMU. Italy and Italians deserve better.