Saturday, November 12, 2011

2012, here we come.... (#35)

Danny Gabay and Yiannis Koutelidakis, a pair from Fathom Consulting, passed the Guardian a note this week which couched its observations on Italy's insolvency within a rather clever metaphor of literary provenance:

"Italy is more akin to a once rich and famous Count who has been using the family heirlooms for firewood for years now and is facing some pretty cold winters ahead."

And, rather like Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa back in the day, this count has been shivering away in his ancestral pad for many years now. For monetary union did no favours to the Eurozone's third largest economy, which was growing at a slow pace of 1% even in the 'boom' years before the 2008 crisis, and suffered a 5% plunge after it, comparatively more severe than the slide elsewhere in the EU. And relative to the Germans, the Italians have experienced a greater loss of competitiveness than the Greeks since joining the €.

Daniel Gros (Director of the Centre for European Policy Studies), has analysed all the factors that normally foster an increase in economic activity and has found that in all but one case, these have improved in Italy since it adopted the euro. The odd one out? Governance.

If political failure can so easily trump the potential for economic success, it is the very collection of individuals today voting for the new austerity package who pose the greatest threat to the future of European integration. For with a debt to GDP ratio of 120%, an Italy which doesn't grow at faster rate than 1% over the next few years represents a permanent systemic threat.

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