I suppose it’s positive that Italy has removed San Marino from its black-list of low-tax countries. Not sure though whether it’s quite as positive that Italy removed its Prime Minister in the same week. They are comparing Matteo Renzi to Tony Blair, but it remains to be seen whether “New Labour” is a concept that will turn out to have wheels in Italy’s moribund polity. Anyway he’s Mayor of Florence, where he has done a good job of removing pigeons from the Piazza della Signoria. Let’s hope it’s a bit more permanent than Red Ken’s attack on “flying rats” in Trafalgar Square in London. If he does succeed in removing blood-sucking political vampires from Italy’s public spaces then Renzi will deserve a statue. Ci vediamo! Meanwhile, back to San Marino, which used to be a thriving Italian Monaco, but has been reduced by successive Italian non-Governments to a level of importance equivalent to that of of an Austrian mountain resort, which is indeed what it was prior to the risorgimento. Previously it could fairly be called a tax haven, and that is probably why it still has GDP per head of more than USD60,000, putting it way ahead of Italy itself, and in the top 10 of countries world-wide. It is a country, yes, sort of, but not powerful enough to have managed to retain its fiscal independence as have Andorra or Monaco. It’s not quite clear why the Italian authorities decided to make an example of San Marino, especially given that a high proportion of the salotto buono probably had bank accounts there. Anyway, it has been done, and the Sammarinese will have to have to support themselves in future by selling postage stamps to collectors and VAT-free ice-creams to the tourists. As a piece of gratuitous information, I can inform you that there are lots of Russians in San Marino. You can make what you want of that, but bear in mind that it’s also true of Hastings and Limassol.