The parallels between this US election and the last are a bit creepy, while preceding the last election there was a perfect storm of the financial industry teetering on the edge of collapse and threatening to bring the rest of the world back to the dark ages so now we have an actual storm disrupting not only the elections but markets also. Hurricane Sandy predicted to rip through parts of New York over the next few days has closed the NYSE as a precautionary measure so things should be relatively quiet today.
Europe is starting to see its own storm resurrecting again in the form of one very aggrieved old man. Silvio Berlusconi everyone’s favourite rogue politician is a bit miffed at receiving a four year jail sentence in what I felt was a highly significant milestone for Italy last week. Handing out such a jail sentence to someone as prolific and powerful as Berlusconi is a step in the right direction for a country mired in corruption and untouchable politicians over the years. However I am sceptical enough to know that a country cannot change overnight and its unlikely that Silvio will be resting his head inside a jail cell any time soon. He is already fighting back and threatening to command his troops to withdraw support for the technocratic government led by Mario Monti. This will be the real symbol of whether the Italian system has changed, will Silvio’s party back their old friend or look to the future and attempt to clean things up. I am not holding my breath. As one politician notes here though “You can’t talk about the future with protagonists from the past.” So perhaps Silvio will have a hard fall and his old friends will turn their back on him, if so it will be a good sign that Italy is showing some progress in attempts to clean up the system.