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'I' in 'PIGS' is for Ireland not Italy, insist UniCredit staff

The "i" in the "Pigs" acronym for indebted states stands for Ireland and not Italy, Italian bank UniCredit said in a report.

The nicknames Pigs and Piigs, the latter including both Ireland and Italy, have become popular as investors dump assets in the eurozone's smaller economies.

"The correct spelling is PIGS, not PIIGS," economists at the Milan-based bank wrote. They said higher private savings and better management of public finances put Italy "in a significantly stronger position" than Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain.

While Italy has Europe's second-highest national debt, its 2009 budget gap of 5.3pc of gross domestic product (GDP) was about half the size of the shortfalls in Portugal, Ireland, Greece or Spain.

While Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain "all have low Standard & Poor's ratings coupled with a negative rating outlook, Italy is the only country with a stable outlook", the UniCredit economists said.

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