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Italy's economy in need of caffeine boost

Friday, March 04, 2016 - 01:12

Italy's latest data shows it's lagging the euro zone in its economic performance. As Sara Hemrajani reports, that's just one problem for Matteo Renzi's government - another is record levels of debt.

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Italy is a nation of coffee lovers but its economy could do with a jolt of caffeine. While the country escaped a three-year recession in 2015, it's hardly boom times at the moment. The economy nearly flatlined in the final quarter of last year, only expanding 0.1 percent. Consumer demand, exports and investments are improving but the rebound is slow. That's leaving many analysts sceptical at Italy's prospects. And at the pace of reforms promised by prime minister, Matteo Renzi. Simon Smith is from FxPro. SOUNDBITE: Simon Smith, chief economist, FxPro, saying (English): "Over the last 2 years, Italy has created new jobs, around 300,000, we've seen the unemployment rate move lower. Those are all positive signs I guess, but Italy still remains very much at the bottom end of sort of the international measures of let's say ease of doing business, you know, ease of enforcing contracts. Those sort of measures which businesses look at, thinking is Italy a place I want to invest, are still comparatively very poor." Another worry for Rome is public debt. Italy's burden is second only to Greece in the euro zone, and that's hit a new peak. And then there are the banks. Shares in Italian lenders have felt the brunt of the recent market sell-off as investors fret about the state of their balance sheets.

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Italy's economy in need of caffeine boost

Friday, March 04, 2016 - 01:12