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German Ifo think tank chief says Italy risks quitting euro zone

A woman checks clothes in a street market in Rome, Italy, August 11, 2016. Picture taken August 11, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi

BERLIN (Reuters) - The head of Germany’s Ifo economic institute believes Italians will eventually want to quit the euro currency area if their standard of living does not improve, he told German daily Tagesspiegel.

“The standard of living in Italy is at the same level as in 2000. If that does not change, the Italians will at some stage say: ‘We don’t want this euro zone any more’,” Ifo chief Clemens Fuest told the newspaper.

He also said that if Germany’s parliament were to approve a European rescue program for Italy, it would impose on German taxpayers risks “the size of which it does not know and cannot control.” He said German lawmakers should not agree to do this.

Italy is not seeking such a rescue program. The government in Rome is focusing on underwriting the stability of its banking sector, starting with a bailout of Monte dei Paschi di Siena BMPS.MI.

Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Robin Pomeroy