In a surprise move today, Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan announced Italy’s decision to withdraw from the European Union’s common currency, the euro, and instead adopt the US dollar as its new official currency.
“Italy’s inclusion in the Eurozone has been one of the main factors in this country’s long period of economic stagnation,” said Padoan in a press conference in Rome early this morning. “After considering a number of different international currencies, including that of Vatican City, we decided to honor our long relationship with the United States by adopting the greenback.”
The growing strength of the US dollar, which is nearing parity with the European euro, was surely a deciding factor, as were recent protests against the new five euro and ten euro notes, which are refused by self service fuel pumps, vending machines, and automatic condom dispensers across Italy, leading to a public outcry.
The decision is in keeping with a number of recent reforms adopted by Italy’s young and progressive Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, who has shocked Italy with revolutionary proposals including shortening the three month-long summer school holidays and limiting the salaries of Italy’s 945 congressional legislators, which rival that of the Sultan of Brunei.
“It’s time that Italy and Italians look to the future. After our breakup with the lira, we got into a relationship with the euro too quickly, before we were ready to make any longterm commitment, and, like all rebounds, it ended badly. Now, after years of soul searching and therapy, we are ready to settle down with a nice, solid currency that we want to grow old with,” Renzi commented during a press conference on Capitoline Hill.
The Prime Minister went on to clarify that Italy would be printing a special run of dollar bills and cent coins to reflect the culture and history of the country. The new notes will be designed by Prada, who has already rejected the traditional green color scheme and announced a more contemporary black and white pattern, and will feature portraits of Italian politicians and soccer personalities, along with historical monuments and landmarks.
“Of course, with the frequent changes in politics and soccer, we will be printing new runs of notes and coins about once every 13 to 15 months,” Padoan admitted, after confirming that his profile would be depicted on the first twenty dollar bills. “That is, of course, if we can get them printed in the next few weeks,” he quipped nervously.
Immediately after the announcement, stock prices for printing press manufacturers and paper shredders jumped dramatically, which Renzi was quick to point out as proof of the stimulatory effects of his decision.
The new notes will be valid in the US, just as US dollar notes can be used by American visitors in Italy. “Yes,” Padoan admitted, “there will probably be a bit of confusion at the beginning, but that’s how we roll. After all, have you ever tried to travel by train here?”