Analysis. Giovanni Tria is a fairly well-prepared economist who, however, will lack the determination that Savona would have put into the difficult relations with Brussels.

Who is Italy’s new minister of the economy?

Who is Giovanni Tria, the man who will occupy the extremely delicate position of Minister of Economy and Finances in the Lega-M5S government? Will the newcomer succeed in honoring the mission that Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio had entrusted to Paolo Savona?

It is very difficult. Indeed, the specific and political experience of the economics professor from Tor Vergata university is certainly not comparable to the long experience and authority that  Savona has gained in the international business community over decades of political and professional activity. Nor we can say that his name will be as explosive in Europe as that of Savona, who ended up at the minister of EU communitarian affairs.

It is possible that in the agreements between Matteo Salvini, Luigi Di Maio and Giovanni Tria, there is an unwritten clause that will allow Savona to have a special role in the relationships with Brussels. Moreover, rumors from abroad speculate that Savona is the figure who will create some problems with Brussels and especially with Germany.

Giovanni Tria teaches Macroeconomics and Development Economics at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Tor Vergata (Rome). He spent research periods at Columbia University, Beijing University, Simon Fraser University (Vancouver). Among the most recent research topics of his studies: the economy of justice and crime, the role of institutions in the economy, productivity in services and growth, international migration and development, fiscal federalism. He has worked as a consultant for the World Bank and the Italian Cooperation and has been the italian delegate to the Board of Directors of the ILO (International Labor Organization).

If we search through the meanders of his political writings, we discover that on May 14 Giovanni Tria signed an article in Formiche, a publication of economic analysis and commentary, with a significant title: “Suggestions to Di Maio and Salvini.” They are rather benign suggestions and not at all critical of the Lega-M5S government program, even though Tria cautiously puts his hands forward: “So far, there has been no clear agreement on which budget lines they want to respect. In other words, whether the budgetary compatibility of the program will depend on an unlikely change in European rules or whether these rules will be forced.”

Then he expressed his suggestions on the two pillars of the program: citizenship income and flat tax. Although with caution and academic language, Tria defends both the citizenship income, in its minor version, and the flat tax, considered the real tool to boost investments.

The minister also held out to those who criticize the Fornero law: “To return to other points of the program, there is the intention of the correction of the Fornero reform. At present, a cost estimate still seems unrealistic if we do not clarify the mechanism, not least because the habit of reporting its impact cumulating the cost over a long period of time does not contribute to clarity in terms of impact, which is as important as the long term.”

Tria is a fairly well-prepared economist who, however, will lack the determination that Savona would have put into the difficult relations with Brussels. It is now a question of understanding how the role of economics minister will also be controlled by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and by Di Maio, Minister of Economic Development.

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