Best columns: Europe
Terrorism motivated by greed
Kai Biermann and Karsten Polke-Majewski
It didn’t smell like an Islamist attack, said Kai Biermann and Karsten Polke-Majewski, and now we know it wasn’t one. After a bus carrying German soccer team Borussia Dortmund was targeted by three bombs last week, wounding a player and a policeman, authorities found a note at the scene that claimed responsibility in the name of Islamist extremists. But investigators doubted the note’s authenticity— and rightly so. Police soon announced that the bombing was actually carried out by a German-Russian man trying to earn a windfall by shorting the team’s stock. Sergei W., police said, bought a large number of “put” options that would let him sell stocks at a preset price—even if Borussia Dortmund’s share price fell sharply after a terrorist attack. But it’s so unusual to make such a large put purchase on a rarely traded stock that the order drew the attention of bankers and financial journalists, and eventually of the police, who arrested Sergei W. Terrorist attacks motivated by greed are “common in crime novels and films,” but rare in real life. Yet here we have a man who was prepared to murder a soccer squad and smear Muslims just to make some cash. That he thought his “monstrous” plot would succeed shows just how much “terror has become a part of our everyday reality.”
The euro may not be forever
Il Sole 24 Ore
Italy needs to start thinking about life after the euro, said Luigi Zingales. Among our political parties, only the far-right Northern League is openly opposed to continued use of the common European currency. The populist 5-Star Movement, Forza Italia, and the Brothers of Italy are “more ambiguous” about it, floating proposals for a referendum on the issue or for a “parallel fiscal currency” of dubious legality. The center-left Democratic Party still seems loyal to the common currency, but that could change if the French presidential election is won by nationalist Marine Le Pen, who is hostile to the euro. In any case, “it is probable that euro skeptics will have a majority in the next Italian Parliament.” A unilateral Italian exit from the currency is “a serious possibility” and “it should be discussed seriously.” So far, though, the debate has been nothing but “a stadium shouting match” between those who think the single currency is the cause of all our economic woes and those “who won’t even consider the possibility that Italy could take back monetary sovereignty.” Italians need to evaluate rationally what advantages might come from bringing back the lira, which could be devalued at will, and whether they would outweigh the economic and political costs of exiting the euro. Can we talk about this, please? Without the “personal attacks”?