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Italian Politics: The Calm Before the Next Storm

Europe remains a potential source of angst for financial markets in the form of another existential crisis for the Eurozone. True, stock markets have relaxed over the past week in part because of relief that another Italian election has been avoided for now and in part because US dollar upward momentum has stalled (see following chart).US DOLLAR INDEX

US Dollar Index - June 2018

Source: Bloomberg

CONFLICT IN ITALY — WHEN WILL IT COME TO A BOIL?

The coalition government’s economic policies will likely conflict with the fiscal rules set by Brussels.

On Italy this is likely just the calm before the next storm given the Five Star and League coalition government’s economic policies are almost inevitably going to be in conflict with the fiscal rules set by Brussels — though the confrontation may take longer to come to a boil because of the presence of technocrats in the new government, a compromise required by Italian president Sergio Mattarella for the government to be formed on June 1.

There will also doubtless be hopes on the part of the political establishment that the differences in ideologies between the left of centre Five Star and the right-wing League will become evident in the everyday practice of trying to run a government resulting in due course in both ‘populist’ parties being discredited in the eyes of the electorate.

ITALIAN 10-YEAR GOVERNMENT BOND YIELD AND SPREAD OVER 10Y GERMAN BUND YIELD

Italian 10Y government bond yield and spread over 10Y German Bund Yield

Source: Bloomberg

THE ECB AND THE EUROSYSTEM — ITALY’S GREATEST CREDITOR

The other point to consider with an Italian populist government now in place is how the ECB will react in terms of the signals sent given that the ECB and the Eurosystem is the single largest holder of Italian government debt.

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