MILAN – At the end of this month, Italian voters will choose their next government, from which they expect jobs and a more level economic playing field – and from which Italy’s European partners expect structural reforms and fiscal probity. What should the new government’s economic-policy agenda be?
To reduce public debt, which stands above 120% of GDP, while minimizing painful adjustments, Italy needs economic growth – something that has eluded policymakers in recent years. Indeed, Italy’s average annual GDP growth rate since joining Europe’s economic and monetary union in 1999 has been an anemic 0.5%, well below the eurozone average of nearly 1.5%. In the four years since the global financial crisis struck, the growth rate fell to -1.2%, compared to the eurozone average of -0.2%, and it is expected to remain negative this year.