Paradox Italy, where wealth seems poverty

Against 5 million poor people, managed savings grow to 2,280 billion, bank deposits to 1,700 billion. Submerged activity is worth 210 billion and household wealth is record-breaking: 8.4 times the average income.

Paradox Italy. Politics are scrambling to seek anti-poverty tools, but the country is increasingly becoming a champion of wealth. In the middle, a polarized Italy between those who have more and less, between those who know more and those who remain functional illiterate, between those who have a job and those who do not find it. Between North and South. But also, and above all, between those who are in the circuit of rules and legality and those who, instead, remain invisible in an increasingly rampant submerged. That perhaps even the statistic is no longer able to photograph.

Where, for example, is the bar inside the Grumo Appula hospital (Bari) in the tables and graphs of Istat, which paid neither taxes nor rent and whose manager received the citizenship pension? The Guardia di Finanza found out and denounced it together with 19 conniving officials. And just the Yellow Flames, as soon as they activated the checks on citizenship income, they discovered irregularities sometimes in 60% of cases. But they are still sporadic investigations.

But that little bar of Grumo Appula is likely to be the best selfie of informal Italy that arranges itself in the sea ​​of ​​the submerged, in a parallel network of solidarity out of the rules and border line, not yet a real crime, but a sort of expression of an all-Italian right to insubordination.

Some data, however, remain emblematic and portray a country that sometimes you do not want to see. The assets under management, ie the assets accumulated by the collective management and those of the portfolio, is now 2,280 billion this year (as of November) has grown by 13.9%. It is an amount of wealth almost equal to the entire public debt which, again in October, was 2,447 billion.

The Italians, in this new era of negative interest rates and the flood of liquidity guaranteed by central banks throughout the West, also continue to grow deposits which are now over 1,700 billion, more or less as the Gross Domestic Product.

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This data is used by those who, in Europe, demonize our public debt to make our country a fault (schuld in German is both debt and fault), a reaction almost more relevant to ethics than to the economy if you look at contextual data, where that debt is more than sustainable. Although, of course, it must be reduced.

But the idea of ​​a country reduced to poverty is also misleading.

Istat certifies 5 million people in poverty, equal to 1.8 million families. Citizenship income, far from eliminating poverty as it had been recklessly credited to its debut, involved just over 900 thousand families, with an average allowance of 484.4 euros. Only 30% of these employers are actually employed and so far, in fact, only 28 thousand people have found a job. Its creator Pasquale Tridico, now president of INPS, certifies that this operation has lowered the Gini index (which detects inequalities) by 1.5%.

In Italy, the total income is 1,200 billion and is composed of wages and pensions. The real surprise is in the fact that wealth is made up of properties, financial instruments, deposits and cash. A record country with 10 thousand billion, 8.4 times the income, a multiple that in Europe has no equal: Germany is at 6.5 and France and Great Britain are at 7.9. In 2013 that index was even higher at 8.7 to bring it down, in fact the depreciation of the value of the properties contributed.

Also because, as is known, 50% of Italian wealth is still concentrated in the proverbial brick. Uncertainty is the typical trait of this period, according to the latest Censis report, which in fact announced that 61% of Italians would no longer buy BoTs, also given the reduced yields. Even the real estate certainties typical of Italians, however, faltered when – again according to the Censis Report – they realized that they had lost, in real terms, 12.6% of the value in eight years.

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Perhaps for this reason too, the people who keep the liquidity not invested, under the mattress, whether real or virtual, are increasing. Anxiety about the future prevails, in these times made by an anxiety-provoking policy and by the reshuffling of global cards, it induces prudence and the messianic expectation of better times.

Italy remains a polarized country even if less than elsewhere. The Oxfam report estimates that the 10 richest people in our country have 100 billion on their own. The richest 10% increased the share of total income to 29% in 30 years against the poorest 50% who saw it decrease to 24%: what has not changed is the intermediate 40% that has maintained its characteristics 47% of the total income. It is the stabilizing middle class of Italy, a little more than 20 million citizens, which, however, has partially slipped into new poverty with the face of the working poors, the poor workers: they are 12% of the workers and earn less of 8,200 euros per year.

Despite this, the Fair and Sustainable Report of 2019 illustrated by Istat on Thursday showed an improvement in 50% of the 110 well-being indicators examined in the report: therefore Italy feels better, especially in the economic indicators (work aside), but not in those relating to social relations which still photograph a country that is unkind and tending towards solitude and resentment.

What does not return is the tax photography where 5.3% is the share of taxpayers who declare more than 50 thousand euros of annual income and pay almost 40% of the personal income tax. And they are just over two million citizens. Over 13 million Italians pay no taxes, but the very tight squad of those who earn more than 300 thousand euros per year (38 thousand taxpayers, equal to 0.093%) pay 6% of the total personal income tax.

The undeclared is probably what characterizes Italy. A revival because Censis discovered it at the end of the 70s and now it reviews it with the new interpretative paradigm of the “survival black” and “opportunistic and molecular resilience”: the undeclared for Istat is now worth 210 billion, 12.4 % of GDP In this gray world there is also the share of double work that various institutions estimate at 20%. The idea is that one worker out of five rounds up the salary mostly outside of the tax authorities’ radar.

The undeclared is not, as it might seem, the criminal economy: for Istat the business is worth no more than 18 billion. It is submerged made of borderline behavior, of gray areas, of elusive and cunning irregularities, perhaps a minute, but widespread which, in the end, become a gigantic macroeconomic variable.

In the statistical photograph of the Italian paradox, it is also good to include the total income of Irpef 2018 which is 190 billion, that of VAT of 136 and that of Imu-Tasi of 17. From the taxes on financial assets, the tax authorities collect 11 billion. The tax gap is 109 billion. Statistical coincidences: those 108 billion are almost equal to the money that Italians play between video poker, slots and scratch cards (106 billion). There is no connection between the two figures, but they are still important strokes to portray this gray Italy that arranges itself, the homeland of informality outside the rules. And probably that real country has expanded far beyond the same statistics. Also changing nature: from people of laborers to people of rentier. Perhaps it is no coincidence that in 30 years ten points of GDP have passed from the remuneration of labor to that of capital. As Luca Ricolfi reminds us in his “The lordly mass society”: those who work are now less than those who do not work and the masses consume as if it were the elite. The only explanation is that the country lives by exploiting others, immigrants first of all. Or taking advantage of something else, tax evasion.

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