Silvio Berlusconi seeks growth to calm markets

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is to meet unions and employers today after a speech to parliament aimed at quelling fears that escalating market turmoil could drag Italy into a full-scale debt crisis.





Reaction to Berlusconi's speech yesterday was generally critical. With expectations growing that the European Central Bank may step in and buy Italian and Spanish bonds, markets rallied at the opening before falling back later in the morning.



Berlusconi, who spoke after the close of trading yesterday, said Italy's fundamentals were sound but that markets had not appreciated the strength of its banks and the underlying solidity of its economy.



"It was legitimate to have expected much more from the prime minister's speech in parliament," Corriere della Sera, Italy's leading daily said in a front page editorial.









In his speech yesterday, Berlusconi called on all sides to help pass reform, but he offered few details and made no promise to bring forward the government's target of restoring the budget to balance by 2014 with extra cuts in spending.



Long sheltered by a perception that its public finances were under control and its banking system solid, Italy, the euro zone's third biggest economy, now risks being sucked into a Greek-style emergency that could overwhelm the whole bloc.







With Berlusconi mired in scandal and facing four separate trials on charges ranging from fraud to paying for sex with an underage prostitute, there have been growing calls for change and a clearer reform agenda.



In an interview with Italian news agency ANSA, Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne, one of a small group of Italian executives with genuine international standing, said the situation in Italy was becoming intolerable.



"We cannot allow this confusion to go on. We need stronger leadership to restore credibility to this country," he said.



"Obviously it's not up to me to name names, that's not my job, but the world doesn't understand this confusion, doesn't understand what's happening in Italy, and that's really hurting us a very great deal."



The opposition has repeated its calls for Berlusconi to step down and make way either for elections or a so-called "technical government" of experts to steer Italy through the crisis.



Berlusconi has flagged his meeting with unions and employers today as a chance to establish the basis for broad reforms in areas like labour law and regulation. Unions have already reacted sceptically.



Italy has had one of the world's slowest growing economies for more than a decade with growth well below the levels needed to cut into a public debt mountain now equivalent to around 120 per cent of gross domestic product.



Economists and bodies such as the International Monetary Fund have long urged Italy to ease market restrictions on products and services and introduce more flexible employment rules to spur growth and employment.



Last month, parliament passed a 48-billion-euro austerity plan, but the programme has been widely criticised for delaying the bulk of the measures until after elections due in 2013 and for doing little to revive the sluggish economy.

Reuters

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Life and Style
The spring/summer 2015 Louis Vuitton show for Paris Fashion Week
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?