Venerdì, 19 Ottobre 2018

Italian industrialists see recession at an end


(By Christopher Livesay)

Rome, September 11 - Italy's grinding recession may
finally have come to an end.
According to the country's industrial confederation
Confindustria on Wednesday, Italy's longest recession in decades
ended in the third quarter of this year.
In a report from its research centre, Confindustria said
the July-to-September period is seeing the end of contraction
for gross domestic product (GDP), with a green shoot of 0.3%
The economy has arrived at a "turning point", although
Confindustria foresees "slow" recovery.
"In fact, domestic and international risks persist, as well
as obstacles, on the road to recovery...Political stability is
crucial," the report underlined, alluding to the looming
collapse of the Italian government over ex-premier Silvio
Berlusconi's political future.
A Senate panel is scheduled to reconvene hearings Thursday
over whether to continue deliberating the fate of his seat in
the upper house after the supreme court last month gave him a
binding conviction for tax fraud, his first ever in nearly 20
years of legal entanglements.
If the panel votes to ratify the subsequent ban from
office, which kicked in due to a 2012 anti-corruption law, the
media mogul's center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party has
vowed to pull its support from the executive it co-governs with
the center-left Democratic Party (PD), possibly forcing snap
elections for the second time this year.
The head of Confindustria on Wednesday expressed concern
about the country's exceedingly fragile political situation.
"Above all, there is a need for stability," Confindustria
President Giorgio Squinzi said.
"The situation is very worrying".
For now, both partners in the unprecedented left-right
alliance have agreed to delay a showdown, prolonging discussion
on the panel which is now expected to take about a week to reach
conclusions on the tangled legal arguments being deployed.
Government instability has plagued the Italian economy
throughout the euro crisis, forcing yields on State paper to
fluctuate erratically according to investor confidence.
The spread between Italian 10-year bonds and the
ultra-stable German bund, seen as a key indicator of
international confidence in Italy's ability to whether the
crisis, soared above 500 points at the end of 2011 when
then-premier Berlusconi was forced from office in a
no-confidence vote and eventually replaced by technocrat
economist Mario Monti.
His austerity measures and economic reforms drove the
spread down below 300 by the time his government was toppled
late last year when Berlusconi's party, the biggest in
parliament at the time, pulled its support.
That move forced snap elections in February that yielded
inconclusive results and two months of political gridlock, which
ended when the current grand-coalition executive was forged with
Enrico Letta from the PD as its premier.
At the close of trading Wednesday, the spread was 248, down
two points from Tuesday.
That and other positive trends such as Confindustria's take
on the recession signaled an "optimism that has been hard to
find" in recent months, Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni
said Wednesday.
But, he added, the country's political instability
continues to be "a problem for which (the economy) is paying".

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