Tags: Ross | Greece | Italy | clown

Wilbur Ross: Greece in Better Shape than Italy

Friday, 01 Mar 2013 12:43 PM

By Dan Weil

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Italy has taken over from Greece as the basket case of Europe, says Wilbur Ross, chairman and CEO of WL Ross and Co.

In the wake of the stalemate in Italy’s elections, its choices include “two clowns,” Ross tells CNBC — notorious former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and comedian Beppe Grillo.

“One is an acknowledged clown, and one may be an inadvertent clown,” Ross says. “Until that gets resolved, there’s a great danger that the nice reforms that Mr. Monti put in will just get rolled back.”

Editor's Note: The ‘Unthinkable’ Could Happen — Wall Street Journal. Prepare for Meltdown

Mario Monti, the current prime minister, has embarked on economic reforms that have won outside approval.

Meanwhile, Ross says he’s impressed with the reforms of new Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who has plenty of business people in his cabinet.

“I even met with the opposition parties [in Greece,] and they weren’t talking about leaving the euro and going back to the drachma,” Ross says.

“I think Italy may be less stable politically than Greece right now,” he adds.

As for the United States, he has a domestic energy idea that he says could lessen the impact of the sequester that began Friday.

President Barack Obama should approve 16 pending applications for natural gas export facilities and the Keystone Pipeline, Ross says. “It would not take one penny of . . . federal contribution. In fact, it would produce some taxes.”

As for Italy, others are concerned too.

“It appears that eurozone political uncertainty is back and investors should expect higher volatility as more weight is placed on political news flow,” Azad Zangana, European economist at Schroders Investment Management, writes in a commentary obtained by Bloomberg.

Editor's Note: The ‘Unthinkable’ Could Happen — Wall Street Journal. Prepare for Meltdown

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