Special report: Italy / Credit insurance
Trade Line issue 18
Italy in the eye of the hurricane
Italy’s economy – the third-largest in the euro zone – is well diversified. Yet the country is currently at the centre of the debt crisis plaguing the single currency zone. Of course, many of the economy’s fundamentals appear sound. The budget deficit did not deteriorate significantly during the crisis, the growth in industrial added-value and a niche strategy help to limit the trade deficit, and household indebtedness is relatively low. But the deterioration in the country’s economic growth potential due to structural weaknesses and the crushing weight of the public-sector debt in a very uncertain international environment are all cause for concern. Given the vast size of this debt and the fact that it is widely held by the European banking sectors, a default by the Italian government would have incalculable consequences on the euro zone’s future. However, the recent formation of a government of experts led by Mario Monti, an economist and former European Commissioner, provides some reassurance of rigour which is a step in the right direction.
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