Published On: Wed, Mar 13th, 2013

Orange Smoke Signals

Jacob Gelt DekkerDigital telecommunication by Telecom Italia is inferior to Papal white and black smoke bellows from a Vatican chimney pipe. The flock of 1.6 billion faithful will be informed about their new shepherd, the way it was always informed, by smoke signals. While a long procession of sacred songs singing old men shuffle into Michelangelo's Cappella Sistina, the Italian recession is holding its breath.
Two thousand years ago, Juvenal (123 BC.) understood the whims of mass psychology thoroughly. “Panem et circenses,” bread and games, win the favors of the people, of the consumer.
A new Pope will have to be feasted with exuberant dinners and a constant flow of costly wines. It is also time for new outfits when masses flock to churches to solemnly celebrate the resurrection of nearly lost abstract values of divine religion.
"Omnia, nunc necessarily continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat, Panem et circenses." --- Now, the people will limit themselves and pary only for two things: bread and games. "

Ah, “inscrutable are the ways of the Lord,.” Even when it comes to helping out the economy.

The Italian economy, one of the largest in Europe, especially suffers from her “black market” as well as colorful media hype. The “irregular” economy of Italy is officially estimated to be at least 20%, according to some, and 30% to others, of what is visible. With over 30% of the workforce self employed and taking fiscal discipline for granted, the estimate is very plausible.
Officially, in 2012 Italy's Gross Domestic Product, GDP shrank 2.3%, while in 2011 there was still growth of 0.5%. Supposedly the decline will continue in 2013 with 0, 3% but then followed by growth of 1% in 2014 and the subsequent years. It does not look so bad when one considers the official growth in the period 2000-2010 of on average 0.6% per year, and in reality much higher. So sufficient buffers existed within the Italian economy for a correction of the market..
In any case, divine intervention comes to the aid of Italy. The grand Papal pageantry is estimated to generate about 2% growth, mainly coming from an almost endless stream of pilgrims from around the world. Occupancy of Italian hotels is estimated to remain above 90% throughout the entire year and maybe Alitalia will even be pulled out of the doldrums.
Hallelujah Amen.

The Netherlands has its own Royal intervention, a grand coronation party in April. Billions of Euros of government spending in the capital Amsterdam, on Modern Art- and Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and the former Town Hall on the Dam Square, nowadays passing as the Royal Palace, stimulate the local economy. A series of luxury 5 and 6-star hotels opened its doors just in time. For the grand royal feast every street is refurbished, rubbish cleaned up, houses freshly painted, parks replanted and the ancient city is repackaged as a brand new colorful present for the eager visitor. An extensive series of summer festivals and celebrations await the guests from afar.
In Amsterdam, all hotel rooms are fully booked. "It will be a great year. The growth in 2012 was 4% totaling over 9 million foreign visitors, and it will certainly be surpassed in 2013 with perhaps another 5 %,( see NBTC-NIPO figures).

How much the Orange feast will mean for the total economy of the Dutch is not immediately clear. Sour Calvinists, who prefer to live in “a valley of tears”, are demanding appropriate solemnity and penny pinching behavior in this time of recession.
Nevertheless, predictions are that the most tightfisted Dutchman will spend at least Euro 27 per person, a total for the Dutch economy of somewhere around 450 million Euros.

No matter how you twist or turn it, whether there are smoke signals or Orange apples, bread and games, parties and feasts are anti-depressants can most appropriately be used as anti-recessants.

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