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Country Forecast Italy July 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Italy July 2018 Updater

  • July 2018
  • ID: 2551689
  • Format: PDF


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  • The March 4th general election produced a badly fragmented parliament. It also yielded a resounding victory for the anti-establishment Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S), which won about 33% of the vote, and the anti-immigration, Eurosceptic Lega, which secured about 17%. Following tortuous government formation talks that were nearly inconclusive, on May 31st the two parties agreed to form a government led by Giuseppe Conte, an independent.
  • Mr Conte and his technocratic economy minister, Giovanni Tria, may face tensions with Matteo Salvini, the leader of the Lega, and Luigi Di Maio, the M5S leader, both of whom have been named deputy prime ministers. Mr Di Maio and Mr Salvini are the de facto political leaders of the government, which The Economist Intelligence Unit does not expect to complete its five-year term, ending in 2023. The earliest window for a snap election would be the first half of 2019, although the administration may well last to 2020 or 2021, depending on whether the Lega continues to gain support, and the extent to which the parties are successful in enacting policy.
  • We expect the government to prioritise tougher stances on migration and more defiant positions on EU rules, as well as the disarming of so-called safeguard clauses in the country's fiscal framework that would raise indirect taxes from 2019 if other consolidation measures are not approved. The administration will also prioritise the rollback or dilution of recent labour and pension reforms, and the implementation of a means-tested "citizenship income". A two-rate "flat tax", proposed by the Lega, would be much more costly to enact, and may therefore be delayed or dropped.
  • As a result of these policy changes, we have revised up our deficit forecast, from 2.3% of GDP in 2019 and 2.4% in 2020 to 2.9% and 2.8% respectively. Although it will loosen the country's fiscal stance, we do not expect the government to breach the EU's deficit ceiling of 3% of GDP, as doing so could badly unnerve financial markets, deflating the government's ability to finance its expansionary fiscal plans. The public debt will remain at around 130% of GDP for the duration of the five-year forecast period (2018-22).
  • We have also raised our private consumption growth forecasts slightly as a result, from 1% to 1.2% in 2019 and 0.8% to 0.9% in 2020. However, our headline growth forecast remains unchanged, owing in part to slightly weaker global trade prospects and rising global energy prices, as well as higher interest rates. We continue to forecast real GDP growth of 1.3% in 2018, 1.1% in 2019 and 1.1% on average in 2020-22.

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