Friday, November 04, 2011

After Greece, Portugal it is the turn of Italy now

Italy and Spain insist that they are secure, but their economies are increasingly seen by markets as the next in a line of dominos: yields on both of their 10-year bonds are now hovering around 6%, meaning the interest rates on their debts are twice as high as those on Germany's. They are nearing the unaffordable levels that could trigger talk of default. Despite this, Spain's Finance Minister Elena Salgado insisted on Monday that Italy and Spain have "strong economies" and that there is no logic to them being affected by market instability.

The case of Italy is particularly worrisome for the euro zone: the country is a founding member of the European Union, a member of the G-8 and, by most accounts, the world's eighth biggest economy. Italian officials point to their large, diversified economy and their high savings rate as reasons to dismiss the market jitters. But not only does the country have a debt-to-GDP ratio of 120%, economic growth is anemic: In the first quarter of this year it was just 0.1%, well below the euro zone average of 0.8%. That helps explain why the odds are shortening on Italy being the next European economy to receive a bailout — literally: Irish bookmaker Paddy Power says Italy is now odds-on to be bailed out by the end of this year, along with Spain.
Leo Cendrowicz in Time Here

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