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dijous, 7 de juliol de 2016

La próxima crisis en Europa se llama Italia

THE ECONOMIST.- Italy is Europe’s fourth-biggest economy and one of its weakest. Public debt stands at 135% of GDP; the adult employment rate is lower than in any EU country bar Greece. The economy has been moribund for years, suffocated by over-regulation and feeble productivity. Amid stagnation and deflation, Italy’s banks are in deep trouble, burdened by some €360 billion ($400 billion) of souring loans, the equivalent of a fifth of the country’s GDP. Collectively they have provisioned for only 45% of that amount. At best, Italy’s weak banks will throttle the country’s growth; at worst, some will go bust.

Not surprisingly, investors have fled. Shares in Italy’s biggest banks have fallen by as much as half since April, a sell-off that has intensified since the Brexit vote. The biggest immediate worry is the solvency of Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world’s oldest bank. Several attempts to clean it up have failed: it is now worth just a tenth of its book value, and could well come up short in a stress test by the European Central Bank later this month (see article).

Size alone makes Italy’s bank mess dangerous. But it is also an exemplar of the euro area’s wider ills: the tension between rules made in Brussels and the exigencies of national politics; and the conflict between creditors and debtors. Both are the consequence of half-baked financial reforms. Handled badly, the Italian job could be the euro zone’s undoing.
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