The growth of the Italian economy has stopped. Indeed, albeit at low speed, it has shifted into reverse, closing 2022 with a negative last quarter.
Between October and December, GDP decreased by 0.1 per cent, falling below the European average and interrupting the series of seven consecutive quarters with the plus sign. Thanks to tourism and services, however, the decline was less than the expectations of analysts, who had forecast a sharper deceleration of between -0.2 and -0.4 per cent, and allows fori take full-year growth to 3.9 percent, above, in this case, even government estimates. In the Update Note to the Def, revised and corrected at the beginning of November by the newly installed Meloni executive, the MEF economists had in fact indicated a 3.7 per cent increase in GDP in 2002, with a decisive slowdown to +0.6 per cent ‘year. A datum that now, despite the fact that the specter of recession continues to be evoked somewhere, appears more than achievable.
Istat’s estimates, currently still preliminary, in fact calculate a boost of 0.4 per cent on 2023 on the basis of last year’s performance. the Italian economy would still grow, albeit at a slow pace. But the lowering of energy prices on an international level could, at least for the time being, lead us to foresee something more than zero growth in the coming months.
Not by chance the reading was also reversed by the International Monetary Fund which, compared to the -0.2 percent expected for Italy in October, brought its estimate for 2023 to +0.6 percent, perfectly in line, as underlined also by the Ministry of the Economy, with the Nadef.
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Positive signals also come from the world of work, which, with a flurry of Istat data, demonstrates a certain stability of the economy. Employed people in December grew by 37 thousand units on November and by 334 thousand units on December 2021, although the vast majority are men. The unemployment rate, i.e. the number of people looking for a job out of the total active population, remained unchanged at 7.8 per cent on the same levels as in November and down by one percentage point compared to December 2021. The unemployment rate youth fell to 22.1 percent, as did the number of inactive people aged 15-64, with the overall inactivity rate at 34.3 percent. On the other hand, the employment rate between 15 and 64 years of age rose again, reaching the highest level since 2004, the starting date of the historical series, at 60.5 per cent. The total employed in the month are 23,215,000, in this case the highest level after June 2019. However, the vulnerability exists and lies in the now profound impact that inflation has had and is still having on incomes.
Employed people in Italy in December grew by 37 thousand units on November and by 334 thousand units on December 2021. (ANSA)
The gap between wage growth and price increases widened significantly in 2022, reaching 7.6 per cent. A value never reached before, or at least since 2001, the first year of diffusion of the harmonized price indicator at European level. Last year, the contractual season led to the transposition of 33 collective agreements: there was an increase in contractual wages, but on average for the year, it was equal to +1.1 percent. The average change in prices was instead 8.7 per cent. “The cut of the wedge envisaged by the maneuver is a small step, but more is needed”, comments Confesercenti who is asking for the tax relief of the wage increases established by national agreements: “An intervention that would help the restart of bargaining and wages, allowing families to recover at least in part the lost purchasing power”. Instead, the Confcommercio research office speaks of an economic picture “characterized by great fragility”, which nevertheless underlines the role played by the tertiary sector in the substantial stability at the end of 2020
In the fourth quarter of 2022, Italian GDP decreased by 0.1% compared to the previous quarter and grew by 1.7% in trend terms. This is a reversal
trend compared to the +0.5% cyclical recorded in the third quarter and seven consecutive quarters of growth. The quarterly variation, underlines Istat, is the synthesis of a decrease in value added both in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector, and in that of industry, while services show growth. On the demand side, there is a negative contribution from the national component (gross of inventories) and a positive one from the net foreign component.
The growth acquired for 2023, the one that – based on the thrust of 2022 – would be obtained if all the quarters of this year recorded a zero change in GDP, is 0.4%. The forecast contained in the Nadef developed by the Meloni government at the beginning of November indicates an increase in GDP of 0.6% for this year.
In the last quarter of last year, GDP growth in the 19 countries of the Eurozone slowed down again: the increase was equal to 0.1% compared to 0.3% in the previous quarter. In the EU as a whole, growth was equal to zero. This was announced by Eurostat based on the first flash estimates. According to these data, Italy’s GDP decreased by 0.1% in the October-December period. In the past year as a whole, GDP growth was 3.5% in the euro area and 3.6% in the EU as a whole.
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