The high borrowing costs Italy is having to pay because of the eurozone crisis and political uncertainty about what will happen after the current government's term ends in 2013 are stunting growth and keeping unemployment from falling, industrial employers' confederation Confindustria said on Thursday.
Confindustria's research department (CSC) added that boosting the EU's bond-support mechanisms and putting them under the management of the European Central Bank is "the only efficient remedy" for the problem of the rising yield spread between Italian and German state bonds.
According to the Italian employers' association's in-house think tank, the high differential in the Italian-German government bonds isn't justified by economic fundamentals and it is causing a loss of 0.9% in Italian GDP growth per year, costing 144,000 jobs and generating some 12.4 billion euros in higher interest charges to service the state debt. The spread problem is also penalizing Italian families, according to Confindustria economists, forcing them to pay an additional 12.1 billion euros in interest payments, while Italian firms face higher financing costs to the tune of ¬23.7 billion. "The anti-spread shield is the only remedy," according to the economists, referring to last month's EU agreement to use European rescue funds to support the bonds of countries facing soaring borrowing costs. "However, it must be profoundly redesigned with respect to the current version, which must be assigned more resources (ideally they should be unlimited)," they said, adding that its management should be given to the ECB.
Looking ahead, the economists pointed to political uncertainty as a key factor contributing to the high spread, especially as regards the longevity of the reforms enacted by the emergency technocrat government of Premier Mario Monti.
Markets remain nervous, according to the CSC, because politicians from the parties supporting the government are already distancing themselves from elements of the reforms as they prepare elections in 2013.