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Italy’s Downward Spiral

Italy is now in a triple-dip recession. But it didn’t get there by itself: Though the economy’s long slide reflects Italian leaders’ failure to confront the country's loss of competitiveness, it is a failure that is widely shared in Europe.

MUNICH – Italy is now in a triple-dip recession. But it didn’t get there by itself. Yes, the economy’s long slide reflects Italian leaders’ failure to confront the country’s loss of competitiveness; but it is a failure that is widely shared in Europe.

When the financial crisis erupted in the fourth quarter of 2007, Italy’s GDP plummeted by 7%, then picked up by 3%, dropped again by 5%, rebounded by a measly 0.1%, and lately, during the first half of this year, shrank again, this time by 0.3%. Altogether, Italian GDP has contracted by 9% during the past seven years.

Industrial production, moreover, has plunged by a staggering 24%. Only thanks to stubbornly persistent inflation has Italy’s nominal GDP managed to remain constant. Overall unemployment has climbed to 12%, while the rate for youth not attending school has soared to 44%.

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