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Family Aid 2020
   Vol. 19 No. 47
Tuesday June 23, 2020
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Antonella Straulino, Jean-Claude Delen and Francesco Parisi

Italy was sitting in the middle of the biggest pandemic in 100 years
when we spoke to Antonella Straulino, Francesco Parisi, Massimo Roccasecca, and Jean-Claude Delen on March 11, 2020.
     It was just before the “Ides of March” 2020 and COVID-19 was already ravaging the country and the continent, but the shocking numbers that were gradually becoming apparent had not reached the levels that scared us later on.
     Italy had just entered the harshest lockdown in its recent history and the rest of Europe was about to follow suit.

COVID Eases, Italy Regains Clipped Wings

     We shall not dwell too long on the concept: We believe all countries are aware of the consequences by now, the escalating numbers having forced open even the most skeptical eyes.
     Unlike other areas of the world that are still in big trouble, at the moment most of Europe and Italy seem to enjoy a relative respite, if not the complete extinction of the infection.

Read the Numbers

     The available statistics show very clearly that the epidemic has been amply reduced, thanks to the harsh countermeasures adopted by Italy and the continent.
     This is a time when we can reflect on what happened and try to figure out what comes next, whilst we are all firmly keeping our fingers crossed.

The Whip of Consequences

     With very few exceptions, COVID-19 has upset paradigms, habits, and expectations set in place after WWII.
     Most economies are now suffering the consequences of a large-scale pandemic.
     It is a bitter lesson for many of us and one we would have had trouble to imagine less than six months ago.
     This being said, Italy is “back,” at least in Turin.
     It is not “normal,” but people are out and about, some even dare defy the rule of “wearing a mouth and nose mask” whenever they are “close to other people.”

Italy Unmasked

     When the risk was burning hot, nobody would dare think of appearing unmasked, but the risk already seems like a relic when most minds are eager to forget. In a way it is understandable, especially after spending most of the last three months confined inside your own house, as many have been obliged to do by these incredible circumstances.
     We can only hope that the virus continues to fade away and hope we can find a cure for it soon.

Antonella the Stalwart Leader

Antonella Straulino      Antonella Straulino talked to us from her countryside residence, where she works in a way that Italians call “smart working.” She said she is “permanently on video calls” and my experience tells me that at times this can be quite a time-consuming experience.
     “Issues,” Anton said, “are now coming to the tables, safety and health measures, issues connected with possible distortion of competition, responsibilities… the list is long, involving both workers and employers.
     “The levels are down and the turnover that has been lost is in excess of 25 percent, at least judging from the first observations.
     “The government has come to assist, but in some cases, bureaucracy has lambasted the best intentions.”

All Together Now

     Last week the ‘Stati Generali’ debate took place in Rome, where the principal players of the Italian ‘contratto sociale,’ i.e. the social covenant, put their cards on the table: trade unions, employers, and the government joined experts to discuss what the future of Italian society will look like.

Debt Levels & Personal Savings

     One thing is for sure: the level of debt has exploded all over the world and Italy is second to none in this area.
     Italy can probably still afford it, because we flank our high public debt with an exceptional level of private savings, which is pretty unique in the world, but the way forward is uncertain and our stamina will be put to test.

Francesco Marvels at Change

Francesco Parisi     On these latter items, Francesco Parisi, who has operated a family business in Trieste since 1807, shared some thoughts.
     “I’m confident to see some light at the end of the tunnel, but am concerned for the collapse of international trade, which also seems to depend on the approach taken by some governments that are talking more and more openly about isolationism and sovereignty.
     “These ideas will not help to recover their economies; on the contrary, they will affect those who try to promote them as harshly as the others, if not more,” Francesco declared.
     Obviously Francesco has doubled his efforts, as a wise entrepreneur should, in order to acquire the necessary flexibility and has allowed most of his workers to assist “from home, when this was possible” during this not-so-short crisis.

Parisi Service in Global Forwarding

     Francesco is no longer a member of the FIATA Presidency. He stepped down at the end of 2019 after serving for more than a decade in the organization, and after having served as President and Immediate Past President for four years.
     But he stays close to the flame that makes FIATA what it is today, saying:
     “FIATA is going through big changes, but I am confident that this situation will return to us an organization that will be fully equipped for the new challenges.”      He also said that “nobody could foresee the magnitude of the challenges that FIATA is facing in these times of trouble for all countries.”
     “In its 90+ year history FIATA had witnessed quite some epochal changes, but never have all the countries in its constituency been affected at the very same time by a problem as severe as COVID-19,” Francesco declared.

The Great Jean-Claude Delen

Jean-Claude Delen     Jean-Claude Delen has served as President in both FIATA and CLECAT.
     Speaking late last week from Belgium, Jean-Claude’s international perspective is to sit up and take notice.
     He said that “the combination of Brexit and COVID-19 is toxic for Brussels; this affects all aspects of the Belgian society both here and now, as well as in the future.”
     He sees “customs offices being rebuilt, lines of waiting trucks.
     “After one-day testing only trucks were parked everywhere . . . People are no longer used to showing papers at borders and issues such as pre-clearance have not been prepared yet.
     “We changed the aim of our conversation to touch on airfreight, which has been my main mission in FIATA for a long time: Airlines have been skinned to the bone . . . ”

Not Normal Until 2023

     “For example, Brussels airport appears to have lost more than 40 percent of the usual traffic and operations will resume to ‘almost normal’ by 2023, but that will not be more than 80 percent of what it used to be. The €9 billion EUR Lufthansa bailout may fall short of the final requirement.
     “SMEs all over Europe are uncertain about their future and they risk being affected even more than big multinationals.
     “All over Europe we contemplate an increase in unemployment and higher debts; the level of indebtedness will be long lasting now for many, many years.”

Pray for a Vaccine

     In a more general perspective Jean-Claude was persuaded that “things will hardly improve significantly until a vaccine is found.
     “People are losing confidence and control.”

Globalization Will Continue Non-Stop

     But JC was more open to hope regarding trade, saying that “globalization will not stop here; maybe some manufacturing will be moved to closer areas, for example in Eastern Europe, but globalization and international trade will continue to foster growth.”
     In the end, the picture we are looking at is not yet complete, we are still right in the middle of ‘big changes’ for the countries, for our society and trade.

Need for Solidarity

     While our most urgent priorities shift from the pandemic emergency to the economic recovery in more and more countries, we must not lose faith in the cathartic potential of working together in the most inclusive manner.
     In 2020 we have been affected by a big problem, but we have had all these years to learn that working together in good cooperation is indeed the panacea that has allowed most of our societies to develop and resolve many issues.
     Solidarity is a word that has often been misunderstood and some do not see it in its proper light.
     Seeing solidarity as a sheer cost as some do is a mistake; we should see solidarity as an investment in our future and we should have “blind faith” that we can work it out.

Promotheus Rockefeller Center

Greek Tragedy Recalled

     Aeschylus’ Promethean Greek tragedy concerns the God Prometheus, who in defiance of Zeus (Jupiter) saved humanity with his gift of fire.
     Let me draw a conclusion by quoting Aeschylus’s Prometheus:
          Did you [Prometheus] perhaps transgress even somewhat beyond this offence?
          Yes, I caused mortals to cease foreseeing their doom.

           Of what sort was the cure that you found for this affliction?
          I caused blind hopes to dwell within their breasts.

Marco Sorgetti     Chorus
          A great benefit was this you gave to mortals.

     Our great benefit, once given to us, still dwells in our breasts and this is the time to use it appropriately, possibly without duplicating the inevitable mistakes.
     Stay healthy, safe, and in good spirits.
Marco L. Sorgetti—Turin, Italy 22.6.2020

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Italy & Europe Regain Clipped Wings

Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper Desire
     We have been around for a while.
     After all the years, adding up the love story of your life is a good thing to focus on. Especially in these trying days of COVID-19.
     Transitioning from all the news and pressure to a love story in a movie might help with a slight attitude adjustment at this time.
     Of course, if you, like many are busy at home, then save this one on your big screen as a “Picture For A Sunday Afternoon.”
     This is a great movie that I think fills the bill. Available on YouTube, it’s called Desire.
     The film was made with an elegant Hollywood Paris backdrop and stars Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper.
     If soppy, soapy love stories are your thing, this ain’t it.
     This is a briskly written farce with both stars showing a wonderful flair for romantic comedy.
     After stealing a valuable necklace in Paris, a jewel thief (Dietrich) surreptitiously uses a vacationing American engineer (Cooper) to smuggle the necklace over the border into Spain.
Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper      However, retrieving the jewels from the unknowing American proves more difficult.
     The movie was made in 1936, but some of the lines like: 'Don't underestimate America, it's a big country,' sounded quite aware of the situation in Europe.
     If you like the kind of romantic comedies they just don’t make anymore, Desire is just the ticket.
     The film, quite frankly, is irresistible.
     Dietrich and Cooper are luminous, sophisticated, and class up the screen.
     You will discover as Desire rolls and for some time afterward, you just feel good.
     Then maybe look for the same stars in the first film they did called Morocco (1930).

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Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend • Editor Emeritus-Richard Malkin
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