The End Of the Road

In one of those cynical twists of finance, business newswires flashed word Friday morning that Fiat's stock price had shot up 6% at the opening in response to the death of company patriarch Giovanni Agnelli. The market is unsentimental, and crudely calculated that the passing of the 81-year-old Italian corporate legend — who had blocked earlier moves to pull the Agnelli dynasty out of the auto business — cleared the way for the family's long-anticipated and inevitable exit from carmaking.

The market's initial reaction was a reminder of just how much the Italian industrial landscape has changed since...

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