Eurointelligence has an interesting on rising Italian yields, Italy’s budget deficit, and the inability of the EU and ECB to do any thing about it.
One of the lessons of 2012 is that rising spreads in the eurozone can create a self-fulfilling dynamic once they breach a certain (unknown) level. For Italy, we don’t think spreads have reached that point at the current levels of just above 300bp. But another 50bp or 100bp could trigger a crisis. A rating downgrade is certain, but the markets are watching whether the downgrade will come with a stable or negative outlook. If it is negative, Italian bonds would be on the brink of losing their investment-grade status.
The nervousness is fuelled by defiant comments from Italian ministers. Paolo Savona said that, if the EU opts to reject the Italian budget, it will be up to the people of Italy to decide what to do next. This is where the situation today is so different from that of 2011 when an Italian president colluded with the ECB to remove Silvio Berlusconi. By then, Berlusconi had lost his majority in the chamber of deputies – and the support of the public at large. The Lega, by contrast, is currently seeing its support rise. And this continues with every row with the EU. It is therefore far from clear that a financial crisis would necessarily play into the hands of the EU and produce a more compliant Italian government, or at least a more compliant budget. The opposite might be the case. As of now, we see no signs of the Italian government backing down.
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