Italy is currently the democratic world’s most underestimated European ally. Many commentators seem to have forgotten that despite its notorious institutional and debt problems the country remains one of the richest and most technologically innovative Western nations. While its politics are often theatric and superficial, its labour market inflexible and its bureaucracy opaque, Italy’s real economic basis remains one of the strongest in the world. The continuing paradoxy of systemic failure and coeval structural productivity characteristic for modern Italy originates in the very foundation process of the nation in the 1860s. It is thus deeply rooted in the socio-political culture and is not likely to change anytime soon. However, these challenges might be viewed as good news in times of crisis: Unlike other Western democracies, Italy’s economy and civil society are accustomed to functioning amid enduring institutional and political obstacles and crises. Disregarding alarmist voices, the country’s outlook remains positive after all: Its systemic weakness is balanced by structural strength. In order to assess the situation of countries more properly in the future, we need a more sophisticated system of indicators that takes into account a greater, more complex picture; and this presupposes a more diverse and multi-polar system of rating agencies.