Italy Country Briefing

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ITALY COUNTRY BRIEFING updated at May 2009

Forecast
May 26th 2009
From the Economist Intelligence Unit
Source: Country Forecast
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Outlook for 2009-10 • Italy's right-of-centre coalition government, led by Silvio Berlusconi, faces a major challenge to limit the impact of the global crisis on Italy's rapidly deteriorating economy and keep its fragile public finances under control. • Government cohesion will be hindered by divisions in the ruling coalition, but the Economist Intelligence Unit expects it to remain in office. Mr Berlusconi has a comfortable parliamentary majority and the centre-left is in disarray. • GDP contracted by 1% in 2008. Our baseline forecast is that it will contract by a further 4.6% in 2009 and by 0.6% in 2010. • The fiscal deficit is forecast to rise from 2.7% of GDP in 2008 to 5-5.5% of GDP in 2009-10. The public debt/GDP ratio is expected to be about 120% by the end of 2010, up from 105.8% in 2008. • Much larger deficits cannot be ruled out as our forecast assumes that the minister of the economy, Giulio Tremonti, will resist pressure for tax cuts to boost the economy and interest rates do not rise sharply. • Inflation (EU harmonised measure) will average 0.6% in 2009 and 0.9% in 2010, well down on 3.5% in 2008, reflecting weak demand and lower commodity prices.

Monthly review • In early May it was announced that Mr Berlusconi's wife was seeking a divorce, following another public spat with her husband. Opinion polls suggest that it has not had an immediate impact on his high approval ratings. • Mr Berlusconi has announced that the G8 summit of leading industrialised nations will be held in the earthquake-devastated city of L'Aquila rather than on the…...

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