While Italy’s short-term economic outlook includes some positive elements, material downside risks loom amid high policy uncertainty. In her latest Ahead of the Curve, Silvia Dall’Angelo, Senior Economist at Hermes Investment Management, argues the Italian situation is a symptom of deep-rooted malaise and requires a credible and concerted response.
Italy’s recent political imbroglio reignited the debate over the European Union’s (EU) future and the viability of the European single currency within its current institutional framework.
While the situation has normalised, the landscape in Italy remains fragile. It is emblematic of the challenges the Eurozone is facing in a new political era. This new political backdrop emphasises national sovereignty, has an inward-looking approach and favours centrifugal forces, posing hurdles to European integration.
Effects of the crisis
Italy’s double-dip recession – the global financial crisis in 2008, followed by the European Sovereign Debt Crisis in 2012/13 – was particularly severe, as the country was ill-equipped to deal with it in the first place. The typically short-lived political cycle – with 65 administrations at the helm since World War II – has favoured wasteful public spending and quick fixes, rather than long-sighted structural reforms. In this context, public debt grew quickly, thereby reducing the fiscal space available at times of crisis.