Naples’ illegal fireworks inspired by debt crisis

A very powerful Neapolitan firework is dedicated to Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti.

A very powerful Neapolitan firework is dedicated to Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti.

Illegal New Year fireworks on sale in Naples are taking inspiration from the debt crisis this year, with the most powerful ones named after sovereign bond spreads and Italy’s new Prime Minister, Mario Monti.

“The Spread” and “The Mario Monti” have “a shockwave more powerful than the famous Maradona bomb and are the instruments of choice for Neapolitans to exorcise the crisis,” said a report by Ansa news agency.

Apart from football legend Diego Maradona, who used to play for Napoli, other firecrackers in recent years have been named after Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and – somewhat incongruously – Pope Benedict XVI.

This year the spread – the differential between the rates on Italian 10-year government bonds and benchmark German ones – has risen to record highs because of fears about Italy’s toxic mix of high debt and low growth.

Panic on the markets helped push Silvio Berlusconi out of power and bring in Mr Monti, a mild-mannered professor who has promised to save Italy but has pushed for Italians to make sacrifices with tax hikes and pension reforms.

Last week, Naples city officials launched a public awareness campaign advising people not to buy illegal firecrackers which they likened to “hand grenades” and to come and watch official firework displays instead.

New Year celebrations in Naples are famously riotous. Apart from powerful firecrackers, pedestrians also have to keep an eye out for falling crockery as household goods are frequently thrown out of windows in an age-old tradition.

“It’s getting worse because of the import of illegal pyrotechnic material from China. It’s a subculture phenomenon that has to be crushed,” Mariano Marmo, a local doctor leading the campaign, said at a press conference.


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