August 15th, 2012
02:38 PM GMT
(CNN) – The markets seem to be on summer shut-down, the likes of which I can barely remember in my career lifetime.
From eurozone data that showed growth shrinking everywhere bar Germany, to Greece saying they'll need to extend the terms of their bailout - the market reaction is barely more than a shrug.
I doubt everyone is lounging by a pool with a cocktail, but it does seem the markets have embraced a relaxed summer mode.
Give it a week of two and the panic mongering will no doubt begin again, because Europe’s problems have not gone away.
Policymakers are still struggling to smooth over divisions over a European Central Bank plan to buy the bonds of nations in debt, and September will bring Germany’s high court ruling on the European fiscal pact and the European Stability Mechanism, the eurozone's permanent bailout fund.
Plenty then to talk Europe - and the euro - down, up, and probably down again.
Meanwhile, investors skimming over the latest eurozone data might well be worried about Italy, the region’s third biggest economy.
Italy needs greater investment in education and training to survive the economic crisis and get back to growth.
We were there for this week’s edition of Marketplace Europe, and found a nation where growth is shrinking, business confidence is falling, borrowing costs are creeping higher and EUR20 billion ($24.5 billion ) worth of austerity measures are weighing on the economy.
Italy’s government has the biggest debt burden of any of the major eurozone countries, at 123% of GDP. Prime minister Mario Monti has been trying to persuade other European leaders to give Italy some breathing space.
The bosses of two Italian industrial success stories told me their country needs more than breathing space.
It needs serious investment in people. They would like their government to refocus their attention on the next generation and spend, spend, spend on education.
These brands at the forefront of “Made in Italy” - Geox footwear and Ducati motorbikes - believe that the key to economic recovery in Italy is facing up to the nation’s skills shortages.
It is something that both Geox’s Mario Moretti Polegato and Ducati’s Gabriel del Torchio practice.
Polegato, Geox’s founder and president, is a regular on the university speaking circuit and has set up a school where they train the graduates they hire.
He calls such collaborations with universities a “new capitalism,” a concept of investing in students and helping people with ideas - but with probably without funding or support.
Ducati has teamed up with schools and university lecturers with its Fisica in Moto program. High school students can learn about physics and science by seeing how motorcycles work, at a Ducati teaching laboratory inside their Bologna headquarters.
Chief executive del Torchio believes innovation is the only way for Italian companies to succeed and maintain the ability to export.
He says the country desperately needs good engineers, for example, and "we have to explain to the young generation that studying engineering is something very interesting”.
So in Italy, at least, it could be Back to School after a sleepy summer.
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