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2013 OECD Economic Surveys: Italy 2013

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OECD's 2013 Economic Survey of Italy examines recent economic developments, policy and prospects. Its special chapter examines policy implemention: legislation, public administration and rule of law.

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Italy and the euro area crisis: Securing fiscal sustainability and financial stability

Italy’s policy of fiscal consolidation and growth-friendly structural reforms has substantially improved its economic prospects, but the adverse sentiment that the country has faced in the sovereign bond market over the past years has deep roots. It reflects lingering anxieties over the euro area’s future, as well as persistent economic and financial difficulties, in particular the high level of public debt and low potential growth. The government has rightly aimed to halt the rise in the public debt-to-GDP ratio and put it on a downward path. This could be achieved either with a balanced government budget or a small fiscal surplus. While additional fiscal tightening would have transitory negative effects on output, it would be rewarded by faster debt reduction and lower risk of renewed financial-market reactions. In addition, automatic stabilisers should be allowed to work.Concerns about fiscal sustainability and the prolonged recession have spilled over to the financial sector. Lending conditions are tight, non-performing loans are high and rising, and capital flowed out of Italy to the core countries of the euro area. The Bank of Italy should continue to ensure that banks increase provisions against losses, and strengthen their capital asset position by raising new equity from private sources, including from foreign stakeholders, by retaining earnings, and by disposing of non-core assets. Resolution of the fiscal, economic and financial crisis in Italy depends in part on action at the euro area level. As a member of the euro area, Italy has benefited from the establishment of the European Stability Mechanism, the announcement by the European Central Bank of the Outright Monetary Transactions scheme and the plans for a euro-area banking union.

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