Italy drops into ‘technical’ recession

(Il Giornale)

ROME – Italy’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has dropped for the second consecutive quarter, sending the economy into a “technical recession,” according to provisional figures released by state-run agency ISTAT.

 A 0.2 percent downturn in the final quarter of 2018 was preceded by a drop of 0.1 percent between July and September, causing Italy’s first recession since 2013.

 “I am not worried,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in response to ISTAT’s report. “What we are interested in is concentrating on the resurgence of our economy, which will definitely occur in 2019, because our budget measures will start to take hold,” he added.

 Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio attempted to absolve his Lega-M5S coalition of responsibility for the downturn, blaming the previous government for the resurgence of Italy’s economic woes. “Those who were in government before us lied,” Di Maio said. “They never brought us out of the crisis.”

 “Enough excuses, alibis and increasingly intolerable propaganda,” Democratic Party politician Francesco Boccia, a member of the previous government, told Radio Radicale, voicing his criticism of the coalition.

 “They’ve had eight months to show what they can do,” Boccia added, “and everyone can see that the M5S-Lega economic car not only doesn’t work, it’s actually in reverse.”

 Italy’s budget was accepted reluctantly by the European Commission, given the government’s plans for increased spending despite high debt levels.

 Flagship policies such as the ‘Quota 100’ pension scheme and the ‘citizenship wage’ basic income were designed to boost economic growth, yet Conte said he wasn’t worried that the EC would ask Italy to pass a corrective budget in light of the GDP downturn.

 “We have no reason to lose confidence. On the contrary, we have lots of enthusiasm,” Conte said, trusting that his government’s high-spending will translate into economic growth.