FT, Wolfgang Münchau: Italy debt burden is a problem for us all

 Wolfgang Münchau, FT

We need extreme and co-ordinated policy to make it possible for Italy to ultimately stay in the eurozone

Perhaps the biggest question facing the economic stability of Europe is what happens if Italy continues to stagnate as it had done for the past 15 years. Will everything just continue as it is now, just a little bit more depressed?

I think it is high time to address the consequences of failure with more clarity than is usually done. Put bluntly, Italy’s economic position is unsustainable and will result in eventual debt default unless there is a sudden and durable change in economic growth. At that point, Italy’s future in the eurozone would also be in doubt – and indeed the future of the euro itself.

What we are seeing in Italy is the brutal dynamics of debt deflation – where the fall in the price level raises the real value of debt. Between 2007 and 2013, the ratio of Italian public sector debt to gross domestic product rose from 103.3 per cent to 132.6 per cent according to Eurostat figures. For this year, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development expects it to rise to 137.5 per cent.

If Italy continues to stagnate in 2015 and 2016, the debt-to-GDP ratio will be heading towards 150 per cent of GDP. /.../

We are in a situation where we need a lot of extreme and co-ordinated policy action to make it possible for Italy to grow, service debt and ultimately stay in the eurozone. But policy so far has been neither extreme nor co-ordinated. Matteo Renzi, Italian prime minister, has promised radical reform, but not yet delivered. However, this is not enough. Italian debt sustainability requires policies at eurozone level that have so far been ruled out. This is where the eurozone’s success or failure will be decided.
Jeigu Europoje ir toliau trūks ekonominės paklausos, didžiausia valstybės skola užsienio valiuta pasaulyje nebus sumokėta.

Eurozonos likimas spręsis Italijoje.

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