Poised on the brink of national bankruptcy, economic chaos and political anarchy, Italy is sick. Her disease is inflation, and the months ahead are critical indeed. Four years ago when Antonio started school, the corn oil his mother used in her daily cooking cost 500 lira per liter, equivalent to about $.82: a quart. Today the same liter costs 1,600 lira - $2.64. The gasoline Antonio's father puts into his small Fiat now costs him the equivalent of over $1.85 per U. S. gallon. Many average workers in Italy, like Antonio's father, are spending approximately 80% of their incomes merely to feed and clothe their families. These are very difficult times indeed for the Italian working class. According to Italy's Central Statistical Institute, consumer prices increased 19.3% during the twelvemonth period ending in July. The increase for July alone was 2.4% which, if continued for the next twelve months, would mean an annual rate of 28.8%. Economists, in an effort to estimate a "danger rate for democracy," have concluded that 20% is approximately the limit.
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