Politicians in Italy had to do without their usual long summer break this year. The government was on call for most of August, trying to put together an austerity package to save not only the Italian economy but the euro itself. September is usually a gentle return to normal work but without excessive pressure, but not this year. The August budget bill was passed a month later with frantic prompting from an anxious European Central Bank, European Commission and, above all, Germany. The Italian debt rating was downgraded by credit rating agency Standard & Poor