Vatican newspaper says economic experts are confusing

VATICAN CITY – In the midst of a financial situation of great uncertainty, consumers have a right to be confused, said an article in the Vatican newspaper.

Too many so-called experts are telling consumers “the infallible remedy for overcoming the risk of poverty caused by the economic crisis under way” is to “spend, consume and go into debt to keep the economy going,” said the article in L’Osservatore Romano.

But, the Nov. 17 article said, basically what those people are saying is that “to overcome the crisis it is necessary to continue the same behavior that provoked it, that is consumption and indebtedness.”

The article was written by Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, an Italian banker and a professor of financial ethics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan.

He said people are right to be confused and even frightened when the same experts encouraging them to keep spending say that “a recession is under way and the worst is yet to come.”

“Is it better, then, to consume to keep up demand or to save knowing that difficult times are ahead?” he asked.

The banker called on governments to be clearer about the conditions and demands they will place on financial institutions and industries asking for a bailout, “because otherwise the ones who will pay, as usual, are those who have savings accounts,” mainly working individuals and families.

The front-page article appeared over a news story about the Nov. 15 meeting in Washington of the Group of 20 – the world’s leading industrial countries, the European Union and several so-called emerging economies.

The article said that, while the presidents and prime ministers participating in the G-20 meeting expressed satisfaction with promises made to overcome the financial crisis, “in the final communique there is no reference to the poorest countries, those truly in the eye of the storm in this crisis” because of increased prices on food and the raw materials their struggling industries need.

The Vatican newspaper article said finding a solution will take time and “all eyes are turned to London” where the G-20 will meet again April 30, but this time with Barack Obama as president of the United States.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.