Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Worst. Minister. Ever

One can tell something about Italian journalism by the way in which Italian newspapers and television news bulletins treat editorials from the Financial Times and the Economist, two papers with deserved reputations for straight-talking. Yet when these editorials reach Italy, they quickly become sensationalized. And so, when the Financial Times published on its website a ranking of Eurozone finance ministers, putting Tomasso Padoa Schioppa at the bottom of the list, it quickly made the headlines and led to a ridiculous poll on TgLa7 ("Padoa-Schioppa is the worst member of the government: yes or no?").

Like many of these rankings, the devil is in the details - more specifically, in who is polled. In the case of the FT's three-star ranking of finance ministers, it seems to have been a quick series of phone calls around the office ("Each finance minister has also been ranked out of three by FT correspondents according to their political effectiveness"). The dangers of group-think are considerable. In sum, a pleasant game, but the FT's considered judgement - "has upset business and resorted to budget tricks but will probably succeed in cutting the deficit" - doesn't tell us much we didn't know before.

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