Italy’s economy remained sluggish and failed to rebound. One year and fifteen days ago, Matteo Renzi, the 39-year-old mayor of Florence, not even a Member of Parliament, swept away Italy’s old guard and became the youngest Italian Prime Minister since World War II. Described by the BBC as a Tony Blair-like “pragmatic center-left politician with little use for ideology,” Renzi promised to reform the country’s economy by concentrating efforts on reducing youth unemployment – close to 40 percent – and on curbing the country’s growing debt to GDP.
Despite strong ambitions, the support of the OECD and a good popularity at home and abroad, it seems Renzi’s policies have yet to bring positive results. Last month, Istat announced Italy’s GDP was flat in the fourth quarter of 2014 with respect to the previous three months. It means Italy’s economy has not registered positive growth for 14 quarters – since the second quarter of 2011, commented ANSAmed. Choosing between more reforms or more investments is at the center of Italy’s political debate.
“I only know that the path of reforms is half way,” said Paolo Romani, the leader of Forza Italia at the Senate. Calling the European economic policy a “suicide”, the Five Star Movement of Beppe Grillo stressed the government “can and must act with public investment in strategic sectors.” Helped by favorable international trends, Renzi could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel since in Q4 2014 the number of the employed increased by 156,000 persons year over year.
Read an Italian viewpoint with investment strategist Maurizio Giuliani’s recent interview.