The Most Important Man in Europe
By Michael Schuman
Monday, Feb. 20, 2012

Mario Monti is trying to pull Italy and its neighbors back from the economic brink.

At first glance, it seems impossible that the fate of the world economy rests in Mario Monti's hands. The Prime Minister of Italy has the aura of a gentlemanly grandfather--the polite demeanor, the soft voice, the smiling eyes--not the tough taskmaster Italy so desperately needs to escape its dangerous and protracted debt crisis. Monti, 68, speaks in the long, precise, jargon-laden sentences of an academic economist, which he was only four months ago. He does not employ the rousing rhetoric of a typical politician. He seems like the sort who'd get chewed up by Italy's political machine, not reform it.

Listen to what he says, though, and the real Monti emerges. His words are edged with steel. He talks not merely of ending Italy's economic crisis but also of pursuing a sweeping agenda to set free the energies of a moribund economy, fixing a deadlocked democracy and charging forward with greater European integration. Listen carefully and you realize Monti is not hoping for quick fixes. He's aiming at nothing less than a wholesale overhaul of Italian society. As he recently told TIME during an interview in the Prime Minister's stately office in Rome, "I believe that reforms will not really take hold if they do not gradually come into the culture of the people."

Monti's mission matters to everybody--from Wall Street financiers to Chinese factory workers. That's because Italy's problems have become the world's problems, and Monti must fix Italy to prevent another global financial crisis. His most pressing issue is the precarious state of Italy's national finances, including a mountain of government debt equivalent to more than 120% of GDP--the second highest level in the euro zone, after that of troubled Greece.

But Italy's difficulties run even deeper. From 2000 to 2007, Italy's GDP grew at an average annual rate of 1.5%, compared with nearly 2.2% for the euro zone overall. Though Italy's economic woes are nothing new, when the contagion from the European debt crisis struck, it focused investors on Italy's enfeebled condition. In mid-2011, they began fleeing Italian government bonds, sending 10-year yields past 7%--a level that would eventually become too expensive to bear. The terrifying possibility emerged that Italy--the euro zone's third largest economy--could default or require a large-scale bailout.

And as Italy goes, so goes the euro. Italy looms as the biggest threat to the embattled currency's survival, because Italy is paradoxically both too big to fail and too big to save. While Europe rescued Greece, Ireland and Portugal, a bailout of Italy would require such huge sums--by one estimate, $900 billion--that its neighbors, including giant Germany, would likely be unable, financially or politically, to ante up the cash. Yet if Italy tumbles into insolvency, it could set off a chain of events that unravels the monetary union and puts Europe's even grander half-century experiment in democratic integration in peril.

The consequences of an Italian default--and even worse, a collapse of the euro--are almost unimaginable. Shock waves would ripple through global financial markets to every corner of the world, sinking banks and economies along the way. The fates of Monti, Europe and the worldwide recovery have thus become inexorably entwined.

< The Full Monti >
Monti ended up in this position through one of the more unusual twists in modern European governance. His predecessor, the colorful Silvio Berlusconi, had dominated Italian politics for a decade, but as the crisis spiraled in late 2011, he proved unable to rally the country's politicians to tackle it. Discredited, Berlusconi resigned in November. The failure, though, was not his alone. Italy's political establishment woke to the reality that partisan politics had failed the nation. The left and right "are both incapable of doing the reforms," says Pier Ferdinando Casini, leader of the Union of the Center political party. "We are afraid of losing votes."

The solution was Monti. Italy's President, Giorgio Napolitano, called on him to step in and run the government. The Yale-educated economist was president of Milan's Bocconi University, and he had studiously avoided the corrupting influence of Italian domestic politics throughout his career. But, he says, the request to serve came "at such a severe time of crisis for Italy that I could not refuse."

Today he reigns over Rome like a new Caesar. In effect, the democratic process has been suspended to allow an unelected technocrat to implement policies that elected politicians could not. Monti calls it a "temporary mutual disarmament" of the left and right. Nearly all the major political parties set aside their differences and threw their support behind him, and that has given Monti almost uncontested control of the nation's decisionmaking.

He has used his mandate to the fullest. In December he implemented a biting austerity program of tax hikes and spending cuts, aiming to balance the budget by 2013, and a reform of the country's pension system with phased increases in the retirement age. In January he announced a sweeping liberalization of professions that are regulated and protected from open competition, like pharmacists, taxi drivers and lawyers. Next on the agenda is a major overhaul of the distorted labor market to make it more flexible and create jobs for the nation's army of unemployed youth. His efforts have already had an impact. Bond yields have fallen by about 1.5 percentage points since Monti took charge, to (a still elevated) 5.6%, easing fears of an imminent European meltdown.

< Conflicts with Interest >
Not everyone is enthralled, of course. Monti is taking on entrenched interest groups that have repeatedly defended their privileges, and they're not going down without a fight. Taxi drivers staged strikes in Rome and other major cities. Pharmacists are threatening to do the same. Truckers blocked roadways to protest a fuel-tax hike. To these constituencies, Monti's reform agenda is radical, even dangerous. "In Italy, the economy was more based on rules that used to be applied to create wealth for the general public," says Loreno Bittarelli, president of Uritaxi, a national taxi union, which is opposed to Monti's program. "I don't understand why suddenly the only solution [to the crisis] is to get rid of the rules." His enemies see him as an elitist who is unsympathetic to the struggles of middle-class Italians. "Monti has always lived in the salons," says Bittarelli. "He really doesn't know the problems of ordinary people."

Monti's response might surprise. "Maybe they're right," he says. Though Monti has attempted to appeal to the masses--he refused to accept his Prime Minister's salary out of a spirit of shared sacrifice--he cannot honestly claim to be a man of the people. His father was a banker, and Monti was once an adviser to what some see as the quintessence of rapacious capitalism: Goldman Sachs. He has not run in any election for any office, and his friends think he never will.

Monti believes his detachment gives him an edge. The cozy relationship between politicians and their constituents, he argues, is the exact source of the nation's woes. "Italy has piled up huge public debt because the successive governments were too close to the life of ordinary citizens, too willing to please the requests of everybody, thereby acting against the interests of future generations," he says.

And don't expect him to bend. While he was commissioner for competition at the executive body of the European Union from 1999 to 2004, he earned the nickname Super Mario for butting heads with some of the world's most influential businessmen, from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to former General Electric CEO Jack Welch. In 2001, Monti squelched a merger of GE and Honeywell, charging that the combination would smother competition in the aviation-equipment industry. Monti came under intense pressure from the U.S. to change his mind--Paul O'Neill, then U.S. Treasury Secretary, labeled his stance "off the wall"--but Monti refused to blink. Welch describes him as "cold-blooded."

< The Danger of Success >
Ironically, the more successful Monti becomes, the more trouble he might face. The country's politicians have backed him only because of the economic crisis, so the more reforms he implements and the further Italy pulls back from the brink, the less incentive they have to support him. As austerity measures begin to hurt, his popularity could also begin to evaporate. That potentially leaves Monti with a very narrow window of opportunity to implement change. In theory, he will remain Prime Minister until the next election, in the spring of 2013--barely enough time to realize his agenda--but he could find that window closing long before then. "The point is how to keep this pressure [to reform] even once the most visible elements of emergency hopefully are over," Monti says.

For Monti, the future of Italy and the future of Europe are intrinsically connected. He has always been a passionate advocate of European integration and has consistently pressed for more of it. In his TIME interview, Monti expressed gratitude for the support given to him by the rest of Europe but lamented that faster euro-zone reform might have blunted some of the worst effects of the crisis. An unwillingness to devote sufficient resources to expand the zone's bailout fund, for example, has hampered the creation of a so-called firewall to protect Italy and other struggling countries from contagion. He also favors the introduction of eurobonds, which would be backed by all euro-zone governments, though other European leaders have fiercely opposed the idea. However, the bickering that has stymied such action, he believes, may finally be coming to a close. "I think there is a genuine wish on the part of the E.U. and Germany and France to again play an active game with Italy for a relaunch of European integration," he says. "I think we will be seeing an acceleration of the good news."

He's seeking more good news in the U.S. On Feb. 9, Monti has a high-profile summit with President Obama, and then he is off to New York City for meetings with the U.S. financial community. If he can convince global investors that Italy is truly reforming and is a safe place for their money, he will alleviate any fears of an Italian default. That alone would help further Monti's status as the man who's saving Europe. Italy's problems, though, run so deep that reform will need to continue long after he exits the scene. Monti hopes his administration can act as an example for his successors--of the benefits of the spirit of compromise. "Others will come," Monti says, and they will sense that public opinion no longer tolerates daily political conflicts whose objective is "to destroy your adversary and not to save the country." Italy and the entire global economy can only hope that is true.

≪ ヨーロッパで最も重要な人物 ≫







< フルモンティ >




< 利害の衝突 >





< 成功した時が正念場 >





Friendly Rivals
By Hannah Beech
Monday, Feb. 20, 2012

China's next leader makes a U.S. visit. A look at the issues that will determine its success.

On a frigid Feb. 28, 1972, in a whitewashed room decorated with jade ashtrays and a forlorn-looking potted plant, U.S. President Richard Nixon and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai issued the Shanghai Communiqué, the delicate diplomatic accord that began the historic process of normalizing relations between the U.S. and China. Its signing marked the start of a remarkable four decades of U.S.-China ties, an era in which the fortunes of the two countries became inextricably connected. In 1972, there were barely any Sino-American economic links, and young Chinese couldn't imagine studying in America. Last year, trade between the nations was upwards of $450 billion, and nearly 160,000 Chinese attended U.S. universities, making them the largest foreign-student population in the country.

On Feb. 14, almost exactly 40 years after Nixon's trip, Xi Jinping, China's leader-in-waiting, will visit Washington for the first time since he emerged as the presumptive successor to current President Hu Jintao. While lacking the historical resonance of the 1972 summit — high-level meetings between American and Chinese leaders are now standard — the visit comes at the start of a year of intense political activity in both countries. Xi (pronounced Shee) will steadily assume power in China, and Americans will vote in a presidential election in November. And for all the economic and cultural ties between the countries, there are also points of friction on human rights, trade and security. How Xi approaches these issues when he is in Washington could set the tone for relations between the two nations in the coming decade. (PHOTOS: A Brief History of U.S. Presidents in China)

In a fitting symbol of China's frenetic growth, the building where the Shanghai Communiqué was signed has been demolished, replaced by a structure that houses, among other things, a swimming pool and 10-pin bowling alley. But after decades of turbocharged development, Xi will helm a nation struggling to maintain the economic expansion that has kept the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in power. The Obama Administration, too, is facing economic uncertainty during a critical campaign season. "Xi's debut with the American public is coming at a sensitive time for both China and the U.S.," says Shen Dingli, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai. On the eve of Xi's trip to the States, during which he will also stop off in Iowa and California — he has no plans apparently to visit Cambridge, Mass., where his daughter is enrolled at Harvard — here are the key areas in which China continues to both captivate and confound its most important partner and competitor:

< Leadership >
Communism as an ideological threat to the U.S. may have died along with the Soviet Union, but in China the Communist Party remains the all-controlling source of political power. Yes, Marx would recoil at the CCP's embrace of private ownership and market reforms. Yet instead of fading into irrelevance, the CCP is flourishing, with millions of cadres and a well-oiled propaganda machine. Even the next generation sees joining the party as a prerequisite for success. The biggest cohort striving to become party members is not laborers or farmers. It's university graduates. (MORE: Why China's Future Leader Is Going to Iowa)

Much of the CCP's current strength comes from the transformation of its leadership. The CCP of yesteryear depended on the giant personalities of Chairman Mao Zedong or economic reformer Deng Xiaoping. Today's party rules by consensus. This redirection away from a cult of personality-style leadership partly explains why little is known about Xi, a 58-year-old technocrat who first visited the U.S. 27 years ago as part of an agricultural delegation to Iowa. Xi is the son of a former party bigwig, making him part of the "princeling" clique of Chinese leaders. His second wife is a glamorous folksinger whose face is probably more recognizable in China than his. That's about as colorful as Xi's official biography gets. Presumably his experiences toiling in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution, when his family was punished for its elite background, have bred in Xi a predilection for social stability and economic reform — but those are educated guesses. What's clear is that Xi isn't likely to make sudden moves early on, lest he disturb the hard-won harmony between the CCP's ideological factions. Washington may have to wait for bold action.

< Economy >
Americans are used to regarding the People's Republic as a vast factory churning out Christmas decorations and cheap cars. In recent years they have also been warily eyeing China as a rising economic juggernaut with the potential to eclipse America. In 2010, China surpassed Japan to become the world's second largest economy. It is now the world's fastest-growing consumer market, biggest exporter and top foreign owner of American debt.

None of this has happened without the guiding hand of the CCP. Market reforms may have transformed China's economy but its state-capitalism model means that the government still protects the country's enterprises from foreign competition. This maddens the U.S. In his State of the Union address in January, President Barack Obama repeatedly targeted China. "It's not fair when foreign manufacturers have a leg up on ours only because they're heavily subsidized," he complained. His criticism may have been driven by partisan politics in an election year, but it also reflected a deeper unease over Chinese business practices, from obstacles to foreign investment to suspicions that Beijing is undervaluing the yuan in order to make its exports cheaper. "We're hoping that during future President Xi's upcoming visit to the U.S. we will get a greater sense of his attitude toward a transition to a market-based economy," says Christian Murck, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in China. "Because for four years or so, that reform project has been on hold."

The Chinese government takes a different line. "When the U.S. is in a financial crisis, we sincerely hope it will recover because our economies are so tied together," says Zhou Shijian, a senior researcher at Tsinghua University in Beijing and a former Chinese diplomat in Washington. And even though China's GDP has increased tenfold since 1978, Chinese officials caution about overestimating the country's economic might. With a per capita GDP of $8,400 (in purchasing-power-parity terms) in 2011, China ranks below the Dominican Republic and Thailand. We're still poor, goes the Chinese message to America. Cut us some slack. (PHOTOS: The Rise of Hu Jintao)

< Security >
The Shanghai communiqué of 1972 warned that no power should "seek hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region." So far, so peaceful. But four decades later, China and the U.S. are potentially entering a new era of rivalry in just that part of the world. In January, Obama unveiled a strategic shift by the U.S. military toward the Asia-Pacific region. "We've made it clear that America is a Pacific power," the President asserted in his State of the Union address.

China wasn't mentioned in that context, but it doesn't take a foreign policy whiz to figure out that Obama's Pax Pacifica is designed to contain Beijing's rising influence. In recent weeks, China has stymied American diplomacy over Syria and Iran. And as China has more vocally pursued its territorial interests in contested waters, the U.S. has jumped to the defense of Asian nations that feel threatened, like Vietnam and the Philippines.

Still, Obama's focus on Asia has met with less bristling from Beijing than might be expected. Even sources that can be counted on to fulminate against American imperialism shied away. "There is no need to overreact," wrote a top Chinese military researcher in the usually pugnacious PLA Daily. But foreign policy makers must consider a new factor: an increasingly patriotic Chinese public. "Especially on the Internet," says Peking University political scientist Zhu Feng, "nationalist emotions have a big voice, and they have the potential to endanger good policy." (PHOTOS: China Celebrates 90 Years of Communism)

< Human Rights >
Each year, the U.S. releases a report on China's human rights. Last year's made for particularly grim reading. In the wake of the Arab Spring, Beijing clamped down on incipient protests in China by arresting dozens, the report noted. (Since then, around 20 Tibetans have set themselves on fire to protest Beijing's rule, in a sign of rising unrest.) Within days, the U.S. report was followed by China's own take on America's human-rights record. Beijing pilloried the U.S. for everything from high rates of violent crime to civilian casualties caused by the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan. The pair of reports staked out the two countries' drastically different priorities. "U.S. society values the rule of law, democracy, freedom and the protection of human rights," says Niu Jun, a Peking University professor who specializes in the U.S.-China relationship. "China believes what's important is social stability, collective profits and central authority." Beijing's perspective on human rights is simple: We have lifted 300 million people out of poverty, bringing food, clothing and Internet access to more people than the entire population of the U.S.

In 2009, while visiting Mexico, Xi went off script and voiced a common Chinese complaint. "Some foreigners with full bellies and nothing better to do engage in finger-pointing at us," he said. "First, China does not export revolution; second, it does not export famine and poverty; and third, it does not mess around with you. So what else is there to say?" The outburst was rare, but as he heads to the States, Xi will no doubt stick to the choreographed diplomacy that has characterized four decades of Sino-U.S. ties.

< 良きライバル >



 中国の急成長をよく表わしているが、上海コミュニケが調印された建物が取り壊され、そこは民家やプール、10ピンのボーリング場に姿を変えている。しかし何十年にわたる加速度的発展の後に習は国家の舵とりをするのだが、その経済発展を必死になって維持しようとするだろう。経済発展があればこそ中国共産党(CCP)は権力の座を維持できてきたのだから。オバマ政権もまた大事な選挙シーズンに経済不安を抱えている。「米中両国にとって微妙な時期に、習は米国にデビューすることになります」と上海にある復旦大学アメリカ問題研究センター理事・瀋丁立(Shen Dingli)は言う。習はアイオアとカリフォルニアを訪れる計画だが、米国正式訪問の前に娘が在籍するマサチューセッツ州ハーバード大学を訪れる予定などないのは明らかだ。最も大切なパートナーであり競争相手でもある米国を魅了し、かつ当惑させ続ける重要な分野を次に述べる。

< 指導体制 >


< 経済 >


 中国政府は違った見方をしている。「米国が財政危機に陥ったなら、危機から脱出することを我々は心から願うことでしょう。我々の経済は切り離せないのです」と北京の精華大学上級研究員であり元対米中国外交官・周(Zhou Shinjian)は言う。中国のGDPは1978年から10倍になったのだとしても、自国の経済力の過大評価について中国政府高官たちは警戒する。GNPが1人当たり8,400ドル(購買力平価)で、中国の順位はドミニカ共和国やタイ国以下だ。我々は未だ貧しいのです、と米国向けのメッセージは発信する。少しは寛大になってほしいものだ、と。

< 防衛問題 >

 演説の中で中国の名が言われたわけではないが、オバマの言う太平洋の平和(Pax Pacifica)とは、中国の新たな勢力を封じ込めるためのものであることは外交専門家でなくてもわかることだ。この数週間、シリアとイランへの米国の対外政策を中国は妨害してきた。そして中国が紛争中の海域で領有権を声高に主張した時、脅威を感じているベトナムやフィリピンを始めとするアジア諸国を守るために米国は突如割り込んできた。

 それでもオバマのアジアへの傾注は、予想したほど中国を刺激しなかった。アメリカ帝国主義に対する猛烈な非難を期待したメディアさえ、肩透かしを食った。「過剰に反応する必要はありません」と普段は好戦的な「解放軍報」の最高位中国解放軍研究者は言う。しかし外交政策を考えるうえで、新たな要因に目を向けなければならない。愛国主義の中国民衆が増えていることだ。「特にインターネット上で・・」と北京大学政治学教授・朱鋒(Zhu Feng)は言う。「愛国的な感情が発言力を持つようになっていて、それが良識ある政策を危うくするかも知れません」

< 人権問題 >
 毎年米国は中国の人権問題に関するレポートを発表している。昨年の報告は、とりわけ厳しい内容だった。アラブの春が起きた後、北京政府は何十人も逮捕し中国での抗議の芽を摘み取った、とレポートは言う(それ以降約20人のチベット人が、中国政府の支配に抗議して焼身自殺をしており、不穏な兆候だ)。報告が出た数日中に、米国が行った数々の人権侵害に対して中国側の言い分が言いたてられた。米国の暴力犯罪が高率なことから、イラクやアフガニスタンで米軍が殺傷した市民の死傷者数までを中国はやり玉に挙げた。この2つのレポートは、それぞれの優先課題がまったく違っていることを明確にした。「米国社会は法の支配、民主主義、自由、人権擁護に価値を置いています」と米中関係が専門の北京大学教授牛軍(Niu Jun)は言う。「中国が重要視するのは、社会的安定、集団的利益、中央集権です」人権に対する中国の見解は明快だ。我々は300万の人民を貧困から救いだし、米国の全人口より多い人民に食料や衣料を与えインターネット・アクセスを可能にした。


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