The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week: Feb. 8
5. Berlusconi Comes Back
Bentornato, Berlusconi! It's so nice to have you back where you belong.
Right here on our 5 Dumbest list, that is.
Italy's former prime minister returned to the spotlight last Sunday with a fiery stump speech in Milan announcing his "last great electoral and political battle." Silvio Berlusconi, who was pushed out of office in November 2011 as the country's borrowing rates skyrocketed, promised his supporters sweeping tax cuts and bunga bunga sex parties for all if his center-right wins the election later this month.
OK. The billionaire didn't offer voters pro bono bunga bunga. Nevertheless, he did give them a self-described "shock proposal" to scrap outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti's much-hated levy on primary residences.
For the record, a recent survey showed Berlusconi's rhetoric appears to be working. His center-right coalition gained 1.3 percentage points to finish the week at 27.8%, compared with 32.8% for Pier Luigi Bersani's center left, which dropped 1.6 percentage points. On the flip side, Italian stocks, as measured by iShares MSCI Italy ETF, have fallen with the rise of Berlusconi's poll numbers.
"I want to help Italy get out of this dark atmosphere the technical tax men have put it in, and in which the tax men of the left will leave it mired," said Berlusconi, deriding both Monti's centrist coalition and his center-left opponents.
Monti was quick to hit back, saying Berlusconi "has never kept any of his promises." Meanwhile, Gianfranco Fini, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, tweeted that in his second cabinet meeting, Berlusconi would "decree that everyone wins the lottery."
You bet your culo, Gianfranco. Berlusconi has always been a winning ticket for the 5 Dumbest Lab. That's why we are proud to support him in his quest to retake the prime minister's position.
Berlusconi is not really campaigning for his old job. If Berlusconi's People of Freedom party wins, that position will go to party Secretary Angelino Alfano. Berlusconi said Sunday he would serve as both economic minister and industry minister in an Alfano administration.
"That is, if Angelino Alfano reconfirms his trust in me," Berlusconi laughed about the man who would clearly be his puppet.
Don't worry, Angelino. The joke's not on you. It's on the Italian people and most assuredly on German Chancellor Angela Merkel.