Forget Spain, Now Italy Seen As Needing Bailout

Even as markets have been focused on a potential bailout for Spain, analysts say Italy, which is heading for a protracted recession, may also need aid in 2013.

Although Mario Monti’s technocrat government forecasts the Italian economy will decline only marginally in 2013, analysts at Citi predict a steeper contraction of 1.4 percent, after a 2.3 percent fall this year. Meanwhile, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development lowered its 2013 estimate for Italy on Tuesday to a one percent contraction.

On top of the economic weakness is growing political uncertainty. Monti’s term ends next year and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has lashed out at the government’s austerity measures, has hinted he may run for election again.

“We still see as our baseline scenario that Italy will likely be forced to ask for an international bailout at some point in 2013,” said Citi Analyst Giada Giani in a report on the country.

“Italian economic fundamentals have not really improved, despite some improvement in market conditions. The negative feedbacks from fiscal austerity on growth have been severe, as the ability of the private sector to absorb fiscal tightening by lowering its saving rate is limited.”

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