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The controversy surrounding the Trento Economics Festival

In recent days, there has been considerable controversy over the decision of the Trento County Council, which is governed by the League, to remove the organization of the next Congress. Economy Festival For publisher Laterza, who created it 15 years ago, and Scientific Director Tito Boeri. He could actually be entrusted with managing the 2022 edition of the festival 24 single substrate That would benefit former Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti of the organization.

This decision, justified on economic grounds, was disputed because it was considered politically motivated: critics argue that the Northern League junta would have cut ties with Laterza and Boeri because it would consider them too close to the center-left, which, but the junta denies this.

The first edition of the Economics Festival was held in 2006: the idea came from the publisher Laterza and then the President of the University of Trento, the economist Innocenzo Cipolletta. In addition to the university, the autonomous region, then led by the center-left, and the municipality joined the project. Tito Boeri, a well-known economist and president of INPS between 2014 and 2019, immediately joined the organizing committee. Since then, the festival has been a success, hosting economists from around the world and many Nobel Prize laureates.

In October 2018, the center-right won the administrative elections in Trento: Maurizio Fogatti, a member of the Northern League, a deputy of three legislative bodies and Under Secretary of Health in the Conte I government, was elected president. Fugatti has always been critical of the festival management, which according to him tends to exclude, or at least minimize, the presence of characters and projects closest to the right of center.

The decision to dismiss the festival management in Laterza was justified on economic grounds. In his contact with the selection, President Fogatti said in a press release: “We have opened the tender on various topics. and both Sole Both Laterza fulfilled the criteria required by the Technical Committee. He suggested 24 single substrate, in addition to introducing important elements of innovation, it is designed to ensure a greater expansion of the initiatives beyond the days of the festival and thus long-term promotion and visibility of the region. Then it exposes wide media coverage through partnership with important international newspapers, and at the same time strengthens the terms of a great private economic partnership ».

Publisher Giuseppe Laterza replies: “First of all, there was no public notice of the tender. A technical committee has been formed to express an opinion on the projects submitted by us and by us Sunday 24 hours. It wasn’t even a binding opinion, that we got a higher score, 89 to 85, and yet the choice fell. Sunday 24 hours. Regarding the extended promotion of the region, there is research by the University of Trento that explains how the festival has a strong and positive economic impact on the entire region each year. With regard to the economic partnership, the contribution made by the various sponsors has always been significant.”

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The clash is between those who argue that the province of Trento has every right to make the decision because it is physiological that, after 15 years, there should be a change at the top of the organization of the festival, and those who argue instead that the decision is political and has been made to remove the organizers who are considered Small, in line with the military council, which represents the center-right.

Those who support the choice of President Vugati also assert that it is natural and right for the provincial government to try to increase the income that can come from an important festival known around the world. Those who support the reasons for Laterza and Boeri argue that precisely because the Festival of Economy is known around the world, a change of management would risk undermining its power. Many also fear the excessive spectacle of the event.

According to research by the University of Trento mentioned by Giuseppe Laterza, the Economy Festival generates repercussions on the territory with a total impact, in the last edition before the coronavirus epidemic, equal to 2.3 million euros, more than twice that of the organizers. Initial investment. In the last editions before the pandemic, attendance reached 50,000.

So the festival was a good economic success, and also had great scientific significance. Sociologist Zygmunt Baumann and economists Anthony Atkinson, Paul Krugman, Thomas Piketty and Joseph Stiglitz have participated in the various versions.

For Giuseppe Laterza, the choice of the province of Trento is primarily political: “Tito Boeri’s left-wing ideas are being challenged, yet the festival has always been open to all ideas, and political choices have never been decided. Giulio Tremonti, contacted instead 24 single substrate, is the line of association between Lega and Forza Italia, and was a deputy and minister. More political choice than this.”

Innocenzo Cipolletta, the economist and director who created the festival with Laterza in 2006, says he is amazed and overwhelmed: “The economics festival has been such a success, the decision by the junta leaves us very baffled. They set up a scientific committee to review the project and then didn’t take its opinion into account. If they want to change, they can also say it clearly, without creating all that fantasy.”

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For the economist Francesco Maggio, the choice made by the Trento Provincial Council is understandable and acceptable instead: “I do not doubt that it was a political choice, but it is also true that what happened at the Trento Festival of the Economy was that the economists talked to each other, without any opening to the outside world , without any connection to the surrounding reality,” Maggio said. “If the new administration pollutes philosophy, law and history, it will be successful. Economists must leave the academy, face the world, and stop being mere “advisers to the prince.”

Enrico Zaninotto, professor of economics at the University of Trento, was promoting a letter to the province, signed by 406 people from the university, professors and non-professors, asking for explanations: “The university and the municipality, which are also the province’s partners in the management of the Festival of Economics, were not at least involved in the decision, Zaninotto says. In addition, the university participated in Laterza’s proposal, which was rejected by the prefecture. However, the same province is now asking the university to cooperate with 24 single substrate. There is no logic.”

AdygeiThe newspaper Trentino-Alto Adige, hosted many opinions on this issue. Albino Leonardi, former professor at the Ezio Fagnoni Graduate School of Economics and Finance and lecturer (a person who, without being a teacher, can carry out certain educational activities) of tax law at the University of Trento, wrote an open letter: “We must admit that the festival sometimes appeared a agreement to exclude, which I keep out of the intellectual spotlight near or not far from the center right. No rules or contracts are broken. Only the inclinations of the regulators manifested. Likewise, there is nothing wrong with the ‘customer’ deciding after a few years to change the ‘supplier’. Especially if it did not result in any kind of violations or non-fulfillment.”

According to Lorenzo Delay, who was president of the Autonomous Province of Trento, at the head of the center-left junta, in 2006 when the festival was born, “The province has all the power to decide to change and make other choices. But I remember that the Economy Festival from the beginning was born as an agreement. My organization is between the province, the municipality and the university. I don’t know that the decision to change has been agreed with these two other institutional actors. That is why this choice takes on the nature of a little stigma.”

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That the decision to revolutionize the organization of the festival will be reached by the current board, was already understood from the statements made by President Fogatti after the electoral victory in October 2018. Interview by Republic He said: «So far scholars and scientists with an accurate economic and political view of the world have been invited to the Economics Festival, which is an expression of the culture of the national and local left. We will see how, but this distortion will end.”

The President of the Province of Trento, in a press release, expressed the hope that “the other person who submitted a project, Giuseppe Laterza e Figli Spa” would participate in the upcoming festival. Laterza’s response was clear: ‘I rule him out. The festival is a complex machine that must be driven by a single theme. We’ve been doing this business for sixteen years. It would be strange if we accepted a partnership with Sole in a secondary site.

So Italy will likely have two major economic festivals from next year. One organized in Trento the only 24 ore With Giulio Tremonti and another from Laterza, Cipolita and Poiri to another city. As reported by the University of Trento, the Economics Festival is also economically successful. It will be necessary to understand what will happen when there are two, and that is if the audience continues to go to Trento or if they will follow the original creators of the festival. Of course it will depend on which bid will be at this point in the competition.

“There are many cities interested,” says Giuseppe Laterza, “the Turin proposal, first put forward by the director of Journalism Massimo Giannini, It’s general. But other cities advanced.” Innocenzo Cipolletta says: “One thing is for sure, that we will hold the Economy Festival, we have I know howWe know how to create an event of this kind, both scientific and popular at the same time. We are sorry for Trento but they are forcing us to take our festival elsewhere.”

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