Thursday 18 December 2014

Markets look to Italy again after Berlusconi threat

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Published 29/10/2012 | 05:00

Silvio Berlusconi speaks during a news conference where he threatened to bring down the Italian government of Mario Monti

German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble visits Ireland today for talks with ministers Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin, the first time he has been here since the 2010 bailout.

Strained, sometimes unclear, relations between Ireland and Germany threatened to reach crisis point last month when Mr Schauble, along with his Finnish and Dutch counterparts, said the new EU bailout fund could not be used for retrospective recapitalisation of banks.

However, last week German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Ireland a "special case" in terms of assessing the need for a bank debt deal.

Markets today get the first chance to react to former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's threat to bring down Mario Monti's technocrat government, which took power just under a year ago.

A loss of support from Mr Berlusconi's centre-right PDL could end its majority in parliament.

That has raised the possibility the Government could collapse before elections scheduled for next April.

That is certain to worry markets because Italian finances remain fragile, even though the country has so far avoided a bailout.

Mr Berlusconi was last week convicted on charges of tax fraud and sentenced to four years in jail, but can appeal the sentence before serving any time behind bars.

Bank bailout costs, appropriate capitalisation of banks and direct monetary transfers between states are all on the agenda for a meeting of "G20" finance ministers and central bankers in Mexico, which currently holds the rotating G20 presidency.

Officials there say they will encourage members to act to reduce economic uncertainty.

Big EU states, including the UK, France and Germany, are G20 members in their own right. European Commission officials will also attend the meeting in Mexico on behalf of the 27-member block.

The week in review

F rench unions backed calls for a national day of demonstrations against austerity.

Marches will be held on November 14 to protest against austerity measures that unions say have pushed Europe into economic stagnation and recession.

The marches are the latest sign that the debt crisis has reached into the heart of the euro area.

The French economy has suffered five quarters without growth, according to statistics body Insee.

The US economy is benefiting from a pre-election pick-up in spending.

The world's biggest economy grew by more than expected in the third quarter of 2012, according to Commerce Department data.

The three months to the end of September saw a pick-up in consumer and government spending, as well as gains in residential construction.

Gross domestic product rose at a rate of 2pc, up from 1.3pc in the previous three months.

The rebound in the housing market in particular is helping rebuild Americans' confidence as well as their finances.

Irish Independent

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