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Populist Minister Salvini Claims ‘Speculators Like Soros’ Are Behind Economic Attack on Italy

Italy's Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini arrives on October 8, 2018 to the headquarters of the Unione Generale del Lavoro (UGL, General Union of Labor) trade union in Rome, to attend a debate on the theme 'Economic growth and social prospects in a Europe of Nations' with the leader of France's …
TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty

Italian populist Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has claimed that “speculators like Soros” are behind a 300-plus point bond spread, and they are aiming for Italy to fail.

The leader of the League party made the comments after noting the widening gap between Italy’s benchmark on 10-year bonds and the German equivalent at a joint press conference with Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Rally (formerly the Front National) in Rome on Monday, reports the Financial Times.

“If I wanted to think badly I would say that behind the [bond] spread of recent days is a move by speculators like [George] Soros who are aiming for the failure of a country, to buy its remaining healthy businesses at a bargain price,” he said.

Salvini made the comments in reference to Black Wednesday when the billionaire Hungarian-American speculator sold short pound Sterling, resulting in the British government pulling the currency from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) on Wednesday, September 16th, 1992, and earning him the nickname, “the man who broke the Bank of England”.

The action also caused a loss in value of the Italian lira on the dollar by 30 percent — and Soros earning more than a billion dollars — which took Italy out of the European Monetary System.

“On behalf of the government, I say we are not going back,” Salvini added, alluding to objections from Eurocrats to his decision to increase next year’s deficit spending budget to 2.4 percent of GDP, bringing public debt up to 131 percent of GDP.

The “spread” is the difference between the rate on 10-year debt paid by Italy compared with those offered by Germany, with the spread between the German Bund and Italian Btp reaching a new five-year high of 309.8 points before cooling down slightly to 305 on Monday.

It had stood at 233 on Wednesday the 26th of September, rising to 267 on Friday the 28th, before hitting 290 on Tuesday the 2nd of October. The populist interior minister warned that Eurocrats’ criticisms of Italy’s economy “threaten to continue to increase the spread” and were scaring off investors.

Mr Salvini has attacked the European Union’s economics chief Pierre Moscovici and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker as “enemies of Europe”, blaming the “politics of austerity” for having “increased Italian debt and impoverished Italy” after Juncker compared Italy’s economic situation to the Greek financial crisis a decade ago — insinuations the Commission spokesman blamed on a bad translation.

Last week, Moscovici demanded that Brussels create a joint budget for all eurozone countries (all those that use the euro, including Italy) and bring an end to national sovereignty over finance, to eliminate populist politics in the EU.

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