May 31, 2018

Italy’s political crisis is roiling financial markets once more

HERE we go again. Financial markets don’t much like uncertainty. Thanks to Italy’s politicians, in recent days they have had plenty. By May 30th some calm had returned: it seemed possible that a pair of populist parties, the Five Star Movement and the Northern League, would form a government after all (see article). Markets had been in turmoil for two days, unsettled by a farcical back-and-forth between the populists and the country’s president, who had rejected the parties’ choice of a Eurosceptic economist as finance minister. The politicians may have done the markets a service, by shaking them out of complacency. Investors may have returned the favour, by shaking some sense into the politicians—at least for now.

Italy is perennially slow-growing and groans under public debt of around €2.3trn ($2.7trn), or 132% of GDP. The drama…Continue reading