Monday 7 November 2011

Eurozone: Credible Italy?

We have looked at the background and gaps and filled the Ecofin file with recent EU and eurozone statements. We are anxiously eyeing Greece, but we also know that we are all aboard the Greek rollercoaster on the slopes of the Apennines.

The EU finance ministers meet in the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Ecofin) Tuesday 8 November 2011, after the meeting of the Euro Group this evening, to take stock of developments and to chart a route to safety.

If Greece is a big problem, Italy is both big and a problem of proportions for the stability of the euro area as a whole.


The news out of Italy is far from reassuring.

According to Reuters, prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has one day left to win over waverers and to see off party rebels, before a crunch vote on Tuesday. On Friday the yield of Italian bonds reached more than 6.4 per cent, there is uncertainty of Italy's commitment to EU and IMF monitoring and the bond-buying programme of the European Central bank is conditional on the concrete delivery of structural reform.

Calls for Berlusconi's resignation and the possibility of early elections add to the muddled picture, while the G20 summit left the eurozone with warm words, but no money to top up the EFSF, as reported by CNN (here and here).

Bloomberg sees that the Italian yield surge has already set Berlusconi on the path to bailout. Italy has to refinance 37 billion euros of bills and bonds by year-end and another 307 billion euros in 2012, although the big and diversified real economy of Italy offers some silver lining.

Ralf Grahn

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