IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/fce/doctra/1907.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Italy : escaping the high-debt and low-growth trap

Author

Listed:
  • Céline Antonin

    (Sciences Po, OFCE)

  • Mattia Guerini

    (Sciences Po, OFCE)

  • Mauro Napoletano

    (Sciences Po, OFCE)

  • Francesco Vona

    (Sciences Po, OFCE)

Abstract

With its public debt amounting to 132.1% of GDP and its negative productivity growth over the last twenty years, Italy appears to be the sick man of the European Union. In this Policy brief, we focus on its two main plights: high public debt burden on the one hand, sluggish GDP and productivity growth on the other hand. Both issues are intimately related: a slow growth limits the budgetary margins and casts doubts on public debt sustainability; the reduced fiscal space in turn weighs on growth and public investment. The first part is dedicated to describing the history and causes of Italian public debt. A first phase, from the 1960s to the 1980s, was characterized by a positive but moderate growth of debt. A second phase saw the explosion of public debt, from 54% of GDP in 1980 to roughly 117% in 1994. The budget law of the Amato's government in 1992 initiated a third phase, marked by a significant fiscal consolidation effort, and the decrease of the public debt to GDP ratio. The Great Recession interrupted this consolidation era and a last phase began from 2008 on, when the public debt-to-GDP ratio consequently increased. In the second part, we review some of the structural weaknesses of the Italian economy. We notably emphasize the specialization bias towards low tech sectors, the “nanism” of Italian firms, the misallocation of talents and resources, the North-South divide and its related labor market consequences. We conclude with four policy recommendations for a revival of growth in Italy. Our first proposal is technical and proposes a new European fiscal golden rule which would remove specific public investments from the computation of structural primary balance. Our second and third proposals are related to the regulation of the labor market, with the introduction of a minimum wage on the one hand, and the facilitation of retraining policies on the other hand. Last, we call for a revival of industrial policies in order to foster knowledge accumulation and firm learning. Our view is that Italy's fate is inextricably related to Europe's and that Italy needs more rather than less Europe. Classification-JEL: E60, E61, O40

Suggested Citation

  • Céline Antonin & Mattia Guerini & Mauro Napoletano & Francesco Vona, 2019. "Italy : escaping the high-debt and low-growth trap," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2019-07, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
  • Handle: RePEc:fce:doctra:1907
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.ofce.sciences-po.fr/pdf/dtravail/OFCEWP2019-07.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Alan J. Auerbach & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2012. "Measuring the Output Responses to Fiscal Policy," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 1-27, May.
    2. Giulio Bottazzi & Angelo Secchi & Federico Tamagni, 2014. "Financial constraints and firm dynamics," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 99-116, January.
    3. Mariana Mazzucato, 2018. "Mission-oriented innovation policies: challenges and opportunities," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(5), pages 803-815.
    4. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1994. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 772-793, September.
    5. Francesco Saraceno, 2017. "When Keynes Goes to Brussels: A New Fiscal Rule for the EMU?," Annals of the Fondazione Luigi Einaudi. An Interdisciplinary Journal of Economics, History and Political Science, Fondazione Luigi Einaudi, Torino (Italy), vol. 51(2), pages 131-157, December.
    6. Giulio Bottazzi & Angelo Secchi & Federico Tamagni, 2014. "Financial constraints and firm dynamics," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 99-116, January.
    7. Francesco Vona & Giovanni Marin & Davide Consoli, 2019. "Measures, drivers and effects of green employment: evidence from US local labor markets, 2006–2014," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(5), pages 1021-1048.
    8. Leandro Medina & Mr. Friedrich Schneider, 2018. "Shadow Economies Around the World: What Did We Learn Over the Last 20 Years?," IMF Working Papers 2018/017, International Monetary Fund.
    9. Maia Güell & Michele Pellizzari & Giovanni Pica & José V. Rodríguez Mora, 2018. "Correlating Social Mobility and Economic Outcomes," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 128(612), pages 353-403, July.
    10. Tito Boeri & Andrea Ichino & Enrico Moretti & Johanna Posch, 2021. "Wage Equalization and Regional Misallocation: Evidence from Italian and German Provinces [“Regional Wage Disparities and Migration.”]," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 19(6), pages 3249-3292.
    11. Giovanni Dosi & Mauro Napoletano & Andrea Roventini & Tania Treibich, 2017. "Micro and macro policies in the Keynes+Schumpeter evolutionary models," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 63-90, January.
    12. Olivier J. Blanchard & Daniel Leigh, 2013. "Growth Forecast Errors and Fiscal Multipliers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 117-120, May.
    13. Dani Rodrik, 2000. "How Far Will International Economic Integration Go?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 177-186, Winter.
    14. Andrea Garnero & Stephan Kampelmann & François Rycx, 2015. "Sharp Teeth or Empty Mouths? European Institutional Diversity and the Sector-Level Minimum Wage Bite," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 53(4), pages 760-788, December.
    15. Michele Raitano & Francesco Vona, 2015. "Measuring the link between intergenerational occupational mobility and earnings: evidence from eight European countries," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 13(1), pages 83-102, March.
    16. Giovanni Dosi & Marco Grazzi & Chiara Tomasi & Alessandro Zeli, 2012. "Turbulence underneath the big calm? The micro-evidence behind Italian productivity dynamics," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 39(4), pages 1043-1067, November.
    17. Tommaso Ferraresi & Andrea Roventini & Giorgio Fagiolo, 2015. "Fiscal Policies and Credit Regimes: A TVAR Approach," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(7), pages 1047-1072, November.
    18. Luigi Spaventa, 2013. "The growth of public debt in Italy: past experience, perspectives and policy problems," PSL Quarterly Review, Economia civile, vol. 66(266), pages 291-324.
    19. Giulio Bottazzi & Angelo Secchi & Federico Tamagni, 2014. "Financial constraints and firm dynamics," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 99-116, January.
    20. Michele Raitano & Francesco Vona, 2015. "Measuring the link between intergenerational occupational mobility and earnings," Post-Print hal-03459992, HAL.
    21. Cimoli, Mario & Dosi, Giovanni & Stiglitz, Joseph E. (ed.), 2009. "Industrial Policy and Development: The Political Economy of Capabilities Accumulation," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199235278, April.
    22. Jérôme Creel & Francesco Saraceno, 2010. "European fiscal rules after the crisis," Journal of Innovation Economics, De Boeck Université, vol. 0(2), pages 95-122.
    23. A. de Felice & I. Martucci, 2016. "Consumer Spending in Italy between Economic Crisis and Gambling," Rivista economica del Mezzogiorno, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 2-3, pages 503-528.
    24. Creel, Jérôme & Hubert, Paul & Saraceno, Francesco, 2012. "The European Fiscal Compact: A Counterfactual Assessment," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 27, pages 537-563.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Larry Hughes & Moniek Jong & Zach Thorne, 0. "(De)coupling and (De)carbonizing in the economies and energy systems of the G20," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-26.
    2. Larry Hughes & Moniek Jong & Zach Thorne, 2021. "(De)coupling and (De)carbonizing in the economies and energy systems of the G20," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 23(4), pages 5614-5639, April.
    3. Nicola Cassandro & Marco Centra & Dario Guarascio & Piero Esposito, 2021. "What drives employment–unemployment transitions? Evidence from Italian task-based data," Economia Politica: Journal of Analytical and Institutional Economics, Springer;Fondazione Edison, vol. 38(3), pages 1109-1147, October.
    4. Daniele, SCHILIRO', 2019. "Public debt and growth in Italy:Analysis and policy proposals," MPRA Paper 97950, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Nov 2019.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Céline Antonin & Mattia Guerini & Mauro Napoletano & Francesco Vona, 2019. "Italy : escaping the high debt and low-growth trap," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/me28b7aoi8k, Sciences Po.
    2. Daniele Moschella & Federico Tamagni & Xiaodan Yu, 2019. "Persistent high-growth firms in China’s manufacturing," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 573-594, March.
    3. Mathew, Nanditha & Napolitano, Lorenzo & Rizzo, Ugo, 2020. "The role of domestic-firm knowledge in foreign R&D collaborations: Evidence from co-patenting in Indian firms," MERIT Working Papers 2020-044, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    4. Matteo Deleidi & Mariana Mazzucato, 2019. "Mission-Oriented Innovation Policies: A Theoretical And Empirical Assessment For The Us Economy," Departmental Working Papers of Economics - University 'Roma Tre' 0248, Department of Economics - University Roma Tre.
    5. Tom Broekel & Matthias Brachert & Matthias Duschl & Thomas Brenner, 2015. "Joint R and D subsidies, related variety, and regional innovation," Working Papers on Innovation and Space 2015-01, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    6. Petr Korab & Jitka Pomenkova, 2017. "Credit Rationing in Greece During and After the Financial Crisis," Czech Journal of Economics and Finance (Finance a uver), Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, vol. 67(2), pages 119-139, April.
    7. Angelo Secchi & Federico Tamagni & Chiara Tomasi, 2016. "Financial constraints and firm exports: accounting for heterogeneity, self-selection, and endogeneity," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(5), pages 813-827.
    8. Stefano Bianchini & Giulio Bottazzi & Federico Tamagni, 2017. "What does (not) characterize persistent corporate high-growth?," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 633-656, March.
    9. Thomas Brenner & Matthias Duschl, 2018. "Modeling Firm and Market Dynamics: A Flexible Model Reproducing Existing Stylized Facts on Firm Growth," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 52(3), pages 745-772, October.
    10. Kadochnikov, Sergey M. & Fedyunina, Anna A., 2017. "The impact of financial and human resources on the export performance of Russian firms," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 41-51.
    11. Raitano, Michele & Vona, Francesco, 2021. "Nepotism vs. Specific Skills: The effect of professional liberalization on returns to parental background of Italian lawyers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 184(C), pages 489-505.
    12. Francesco Aiello & Graziella Bonanno & Stefania P. S. Rossi, 2020. "How firms finance innovation. Further empirics from European SMEs," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(4), pages 689-714, November.
    13. Edoardo Ferrucci & Roberto Guida & Valentina Meliciani, 2021. "Financial constraints and the growth and survival of innovative start‐ups: An analysis of Italian firms," European Financial Management, European Financial Management Association, vol. 27(2), pages 364-386, March.
    14. Angelo Secchi & Federico Tamagni & Chiara Tomasi, 2016. "Export price adjustments under financial constraints," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 49(3), pages 1057-1085, August.
    15. Cristina Guillamón & Enrique Moral-Benito & Sergio Puente, 2017. "High growth firms in employment and productivity: dynamic interactions and the role of financial constraints?," Working Papers 1718, Banco de España.
    16. Thomas Brenner & Matthias Duschl, 2015. "Causal dynamic effects in regional systems of technological activities: a SVAR approach," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 55(1), pages 103-130, October.
    17. Dosi, Giovanni & Fagiolo, Giorgio & Napoletano, Mauro & Roventini, Andrea & Treibich, Tania, 2015. "Fiscal and monetary policies in complex evolving economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 166-189.
    18. Pablo Hernández de Cos & Enrique Moral-Benito, 2016. "Fiscal multipliers in turbulent times: the case of Spain," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 50(4), pages 1589-1625, June.
    19. Jérôme Creel & Paul Hubert & Francesco Saraceno, 2014. "French Public Finances at Risk?," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 61(1), pages 1-19, Februar.
    20. Giovanni Dosi & Daniele Moschella & Emanuele Pugliese & Federico Tamagni, 2015. "Productivity, market selection, and corporate growth: comparative evidence across US and Europe," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 45(3), pages 643-672, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Italy; growth; productivity; public debt;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fce:doctra:1907. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/ofcspfr.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Francesco Saraceno (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/ofcspfr.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.