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Country Forecast Italy May 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Italy May 2018 Updater

  • May 2018
  • ID: 5390602
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit


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  • The March 4th general election produced a severely fragmented parliament. None of the three main blocs-the centre left, led by the Partito Democratico (PD); the centre right comprising Forza Italia (FI), the populist, Eurosceptic Lega and the right-wing Fratelli d'Italia; and the anti-establishment Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S)-won a majority of seats.
  • Anti-establishment, Eurosceptic forces together obtained more than 50% of the vote, with M5S emerging as the single biggest party and the Lega the largest party in the largest bloc-the centre right. Although M5S and the Lega toned down their Eurosceptic statements during the campaign, there is concern that these parties' participation in government would make Italy a difficult partner in Europe.
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts that an M5S-Lega government will be formed. However, this is an increasingly difficult option, and there is a high risk of an early election, possibly as soon as October, or else after the tenure of a short-term interim government. The PD is unlikely to negotiate with M5S and could split if its leaders seek to overturn the line of Matteo Renzi, the former PD leader, who opposes talks with M5S, at a meeting of the PD's directorate on May 3rd.
  • Political uncertainty increases the potential for financial volatility, and could disrupt the current economic recovery. We believe that the European Central Bank (ECB) will have sufficient tools at its disposal to contain any financial market turmoil. Italy's most vulnerable credit institutions are now on a sounder footing, but addressing the structural weak-nesses in the banking system will be a difficult process within the EU's banking union rules.
  • There is uncertainty about the direction of economic policy after the election, but we expect the government to adhere broadly to the EU's fiscal rules and keep the budget deficit smaller than the 3% of GDP limit. We expect the deficit to ease from 2.3% of GDP in 2017 to 2% in 2018. As interest rates rise we expect the deficit to expand, reaching 2.7% in 2022. We expect government debt to remain around 130% of GDP during the forecast period (2018-22).
  • We expect that domestic demand growth and solid external demand will continue to sustain the moderate economic recovery that began in 2014. We forecast that real GDP growth will slow from 1.6% in 2017 to 1.3% in 2018. In 2019-22 we forecast that real GDP growth will average 1.1% per year. We expect the current account to remain firmly in surplus in 2018-22.

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