After nearly four years of steady, if slow, growth, Italy’s economy has fallen into recession. Sadly, this is not unusual. If anything, the uninterrupted stretch of growth was the anomaly:
“The good news is that it doesn’t depend on us,” prime minister Giuseppe Conte said yesterday (link in Italian), a day before the fourth-quarter figures confirmed that GDP had contracted for two quarters in a row, the common definition of a recession. The Italian government has blamed the slowdown on spillovers from China, Germany, and the global economy. But others note that the gap between growth in Italy and in other euro-zone countries is getting wider, a sign that “idiosyncratic factors” stemming from Rome are equally, if not more, to blame.
The ups and downs of the Italian economy have been dramatic for investors—and, of course, the people living there—but now the country’s GDP is roughly the same size as it was in 2004. It’s been a long and winding road to get back to where it was 15 years ago.