Italians Solve The Deficit Problem!

Bloomberg is reporting a great story that the southern Italian town of Melito is betting part of it's budget on lottery tickets, arguing, (with some probable degree of accuracy), that it's no more risky than investing on Wall Street.

"If Melito, near Naples, hits the jackpot, the town will become “a little tax-free haven,” Mayor Antonio Amente said in an interview on Aug. 31, after the city council unanimously backed his proposal. “We’ll be like Monte Carlo!”"

Their first bets are going down on Italy's Supernalotto game which has a €127m jackpot this week. "with councils selling bonds and buying derivatives to rustle up cash, Amente says the lottery is a better bet -- and much cheaper. Nor will he leave everything to chance, basing number choice on age-old Neapolitan traditions of calculating the winning mix."

It all sounds very enterprising but stick in the mud Professor Olivieri, who is something in maths at Luiss University, just has to chuck cold water around and says, “It would be easier for me to guess a stranger’s phone number, it shows how desperate local administrators are."

Unabashed, our innovative councillors say they have made an “informed choice” of a lotto combination based on the Smorfia manual," whatever local hocus pocus that represents. Every week, they will play the same numbers including number 33, which stands for the mayor, 42 for city hall, 72 for “wonder,” and 90 for “the people.” The remaining two numbers are a secret, Amente said.

With local municipalities having lost 1.1bn euros in recent years there may be some justification for spinning the wheel and I wouldn't laugh, it's certainly no worse than our own councils burning cash in dodgy Icelandic banks against all reasonable advice at the time.

Obviously, if they won, the biggest income would be from the film rights and tourism - it's an Ealing Comedy waiting to be made. What is there not to love about the Italians!