Alex Bryson, Rob Simmons, Giambattista Rossi, 08 May 2012

Are migrants paid more or less than their native colleagues? This column provides a unique insight by looking at data from an industry where there are many foreigners and where their relative quality can be easily measured – professional football in Italy.

Guglielmo Barone, Gaia Narciso, 05 May 2012

Can organised crime divert public spending? This column presents evidence of the Mafia influencing public transfers and argues that geographically targeted aid should take into account the risk that at least part of the funding feeds into organised crime.

Lorenzo Forni, Andrea Gerali, Massimiliano Pisani, 03 April 2012

How to jump-start productivity growth in Europe’s economies is a question at the heart of debate over economic policy in the Eurozone. This column explores the effect of a decrease in mark-ups in the Italian services sector. Using simulations, it suggests that the potential macroeconomic gains from pursuing competition-friendly reforms could be substantial.

William Cline, 10 March 2012

The clouds hanging over the Eurozone seem to have cleared – for now. But it wasn’t long ago that people were looking at Italy and calling for debt restructuring. This column argues that such a move would have triggered bank runs, financial instability, and perhaps the break up of the euro. It says that Italy’s debt is sustainable at current levels so long as the government manages its spending.

Andrea Presbitero, Gregory Udell, Alberto Zazzaro, 12 February 2012

Understanding credit crunches is a major concern for policymakers. This column suggests that the severity of a credit crunch in a specific area depends on the hierarchical structure of the banks operating in that credit market. It explores the Italian case and shows that, in the months following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, banks retracted disproportionally from markets that are more distant from their headquarters.

Nicola Borri, Gianfranco di Vaio, Giuseppe Ragusa, 04 February 2012

Will Italy be able cut its debt and abide by the new EU fiscal rules? This column presents a simulation of the evolution of the Italian debt-to-GDP ratio. It finds that Italy’s borrowing and saving plans are sustainable – even at today’s high interest rates.

Luigi Guiso, Helios Herrera, Massimo Morelli, 25 January 2012

What good might come from Europe’s crisis? Profligate governments in Italy and Greece, while pandering to the masses, have left their countries with crippling debt. This column draws parallels with Latin America and argues that the current hardship may sound a death knell for populism in southern Europe, as it has elsewhere.

Donato Masciandaro, Francesco Passarelli, 11 January 2012

Italy’s prime minister, Mario Monti, is the latest in a growing line of senior public figures to support the idea of a financial transaction tax - also known as a Tobin tax or Robin Hood tax. Rather than give a case for or against, this column looks at what the realistic options are and asks whether they will be better for Europe, or worse.

Federico Etro, 23 December 2011

To some, the world of art and world of economics are diametrically opposed. To others, such as the author of this column, they are part of the same. This column looks at the wages of painters during the 17th century Baroque art movement and asks what insights it can provide for art lovers, economists, and those who consider themselves both.

Daniel Gros, 19 December 2011

If Italy is too big to fail and too big to save, how can it save itself? This column suggests a survival strategy. The Italian households should finance their own government by buying its debt, and the ECB should prevent a collapse of the Italian banking system.

Paolo Manasse, 02 December 2011

Paolo Manasse talks to Viv Davies about Italy and the Eurozone crisis. They discuss the economic and political challenges currently facing Italy, how a eurozone fiscal union might work in practice and the role of eurobonds. Manasse explains the trade-off between addressing sovereign debt in the peripheral economies and establishing broader financial stability across the Eurozone; he maintains that an expansionary ECB monetary policy is an important part of the solution. The interview was recorded on 30 November 2011. [Also read the transcript]

John Muellbauer, 25 November 2011

For months economists have been arguing that Germany holds the key to ending the Eurozone crisis. Should it relax its anti-inflation stance and allow the ECB to inflate away sovereign debt? Or should it write a cheque of its own to the EFSF? Neither, says this column. There is a simple solution, if only Eurozone leaders can see it. Eurobonds are the answer – but with conditions.

Paolo Manasse, Giulio Trigilia, 23 November 2011

The price of credit-default swaps can be used to estimate the probability of sovereign default. This column examines the case of Italy, looking at how default risk varies across maturities and how this has evolved since January 2011. It suggests that markets are pricing in a heightening of risk two years from now – mostly probably due to political tensions and the risk of deadlocked reform.

Paolo Manasse, Giulio Trigilia, 21 November 2011

Ever since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, contagion has become the stuff of policymakers' nightmares. In recent weeks, with the very real prospect of default by European countries, the sleepless nights are returning. This column provides evidence that markets are bundling all European countries together. They believe that if Italy defaults, it would mean the end of the euro and no country would be left unscathed.

Daniel Gros, 09 November 2011

As Italy’s debt crisis enters the danger zone the question arises: Can Italy ever overcome its decade-old growth slump? This column shows that Italy’s growth fundamentals are all in pretty good shape, except one - good governance. Worldwide Governance Indicators show a dramatic worsening during the Berlusconi governments especially when it comes to the rule of law, government effectiveness, and control of corruption. Progress on improving these might in the end be more important for growth than the reforms the EU demands.

Paolo Manasse, 09 November 2011

UPDATED: Changes in the Italian government are driven by the country’s dire debt situation. This column, which updates a 31 October column that illustrated the unsustainability of Italian debt, argues that Berlusconi’s departure is necessary but far from sufficient. Drastic, but evenly distributed measures of consolidation and reform are necessary.

Tito Boeri, 04 October 2011

Today Italian five-year governments bonds are insured at 70 basis points above Spanish ones. In June it was the other way around. This column argues that this increase in Italian spreads is due not only to policy and communication failures but also to Berlusconi’s lack of personal credibility. The costs of such bad handling of the crisis could be of the order of €20 billion.

Alberto Alesina, Francesco Giavazzi, 13 September 2011

As Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announces a new austerity bill based on tax rises, this column argues that the country’s leaders are in denial – it is as if they are trying to take aspirin to hide the symptoms of pneumonia. The authors predict that, with the current political class in power, Italy will soon enter another recession and, eventually, another crisis.

Daniel Gros, 24 August 2011

Eurobonds are being touted as the silver bullet to resolve the Eurozone crisis. This column argues that the Eurobonds proposal fails on legal, political, and economic grounds. It says that, whatever the variant, Eurobonds only make sense in a political union—and given the vast differences in national political systems and their quality of governance, any political union created on paper will not work in practice.

Tito Boeri, 17 August 2011

Italy is on its third fiscal consolidation package in just six weeks, and none have addressed its credibility crisis. This column argues that Italy’s problems come from its bad politicians, who refuse to learn that structural reforms are necessary. To err is human, but to persevere is diabolical.

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