ECB Must Print Euros or Italy May Say ‘Ciao:’ Berlusconi

Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Italy should say “ciao, euro” if the European Central Bank doesn’t start printing money to tackle the debt crisis and Germany should quit the single currency if it won’t back a bolder role for ECB.

“The economic crisis can’t be solved” in Italy, Berlusconi said in comments posted on his party’s website today. He called on Prime Minister Mario Monti to “change his political line” and lobby European leaders to back a money- printing campaign by the Frankfurt-based ECB. If the central bank doesn’t become a “lender of last resort,” Italy should say “ciao, euro,” the former premier said.

The media tycoon-turned-politician became the latest European leaders to step up pressure on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the ECB to permit a more aggressive response to the region’s debt crisis. Monti yesterday called on Merkel to drop her opposition to allowing the euro region’s rescue mechanism to lend directly to banks.

The 17-nation euro area “has a significant risk of breaking up” unless policy makers revamp the bloc’s fiscal and economic ties, Economic and Monetary Commissioner Olli Rehn said today in a speech in Helsinki. “We’re either headed for a deterioration of the euro area or a gradual strengthening of the European Union.”

‘Our Currency’

Berlusconi, 75, who resigned as premier in November as Italian borrowing costs surged amid a worsening debt crisis, said Italy should remain in the European Union even if it exits the euro. He added that another of his proposals was that the “Bank of Italy prints euros or our own currency.”

“It’s a crazy idea of mine,” he said, without specifying if he meant reviving the lira.

On May 25 Berlusconi, who heads the party with the most seats in the Rome-based parliament and whose support is crucial for Monti’s government, called for an overhaul of the country’s constitution to strengthen the powers of the president. He also said he would seek the office if his party requested him to.

-- Editors: Andrew Davis, Jeffrey Donovan

To contact the reporters on this story: Lorenzo Totaro in Rome at ltotaro@bloomberg.net Jeffrey Donovan at jdonovan26@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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