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.

Uri Dadush, Bennett Stancil, 08 August 2011

Italy is the latest European country to be the cause of market angst. This column argues that if there is one good thing to come from the recent developments it is that rising Italian interest rates will mean the only options for the Eurozone are the long-term solutions to the crisis: increasing competitiveness in the periphery countries and forming a tighter fiscal union.

Timothy Hatton, 02 May 2011

The recent surge of refugees entering Europe from North Africa – particularly through Lampedusa – has caused a rift among EU states over what should be done and who should shoulder the responsibility. This column asks what theory and recent history can tell us about sharing the refugee burden in the EU.

Fabiano Schivardi, Eliana Viviano, 30 April 2011

Retail trade is regulated in all European economies. This column studies a 1998 Italian reform that delegated regulation to local authorities and therefore generated regional variation in barriers to entry. It shows that entry restrictions favour incumbent shops and reduce productivity and employment in the sector. Consumers pay for all this through higher prices.

Charles Wyplosz, 29 April 2011

Restructuring is a taboo word in Brussels. This column argues that debt restructuring may be a viable option for some of the countries on Europe’s highly indebted periphery.

Tito Boeri, 29 April 2011

Lampedusa is a small Italian island close to Tunisia. A recent influx of migrants has prompted Messrs Berlusconi and Sarkozy to call for a temporary suspension of the free mobility from countries receiving large waves of refugees and illegal migrants. This column argues that such a step would be madness. The EU needs more mobility, not less.

Giancarlo Corsetti, Saverio Simonelli, Antonio Acconcia, 04 April 2011

Few things divide the economics profession more than this question: How much economic activity does $1 of government spending generate? This column provides a new angle. Looking at local councils in Italy between 1990 and 1999, it examines variation in budgets due to the removal of funds by central government if mafia involvement is suspected. It finds that the fiscal multiplier starts at 1.4 and rises to 2.0.

Heiko Hesse, Brenda González-Hermosillo, 10 March 2011

Just how much systemic risk remains in the advanced economies? This column uses Markov-switching techniques to examine volatility in equity, interbank, sovereign credit-default swaps, and foreign-exchange markets. It finds that while overall systemic stress emanating from interbank spreads and foreign-exchange volatility has subsided, there are still pockets of systemic risk, particularly in sovereign credit default swaps and equity markets – and this is especially the case for Europe’s periphery.

Uri Dadush, Bennett Stancil, 06 February 2011

The recent fiscal problems in Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain have left the single currency in need of rescue. But this column argues that this is only part of the problem. Until leaders deal with the core issues – the periphery’s lost competitiveness and misaligned economic structures – Europe’s rescue will ultimately fail.

Paolo Manasse, 18 January 2011

Workers at a Fiat plant in Turin recently voted to approve a new, innovative labour contract that promises higher wages and new investments in exchange for tighter discipline and oversight. This column says that if such a model of industrial negotiations were adopted across Italy, employment would rise in both the short and medium term.

Miguel Cardoso, Rafael Doménech, 13 December 2010

Are concerns over the sustainability of sovereign debt in Europe justified? This column presents data covering 16 developed countries including Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. It shows that these countries have worryingly low levels of human capital and income per head and argues that policymakers in these countries should press ahead with reforms to reassure investors of their future growth potential.

Bas Straathof, Sander van Veldhuizen, 09 December 2010

Barely 20% of European patents are validated in smaller EU member states – and this share is falling. This column argues that low validation rates are problematic for two reasons. They shelter firms from technological competition and they make a country less attractive to foreign innovators. It concludes that the introduction of the EU patent would solve these issues.

Uri Dadush, Shimelse Ali, 09 December 2010

If China appreciates its currency, who will gain and who will lose out? This column argues that the single greatest beneficiary from a gradual renminbi revaluation, accompanied by measures to stimulate demand, will be China itself. Ironically, the US, which has been leading the charge on renminbi appreciation, would likely be among the losers. Certainly, a very large one-off revaluation that disrupts China’s growth hurts everyone.

Paolo Manasse, Giulio Trigilia, 26 November 2010

Is Italy the next European country to go? This column argues that the jury is still out, although the grace period will not extend beyond three years.

Gilles Mourre, Alessandro Turrini, 20 November 2010

The latest developments in Ireland are putting further strain on the Eurozone, with some calling in to question the future of the single currency. The column looks at what the countries on the periphery of the Eurozone, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain can do to restore competitiveness.

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