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Dec 7, 2016 at 06:17 o\clock

Can Italy Survive the Fall?

By Abhishek Malhotra

Italy, currently is not the only country facing problems in the Eurozone. If we look at the total growth achieved from the beginning of century up to last year, we find that both France and Germany have managed 15%. The yields are mere 1% per year, which are not impressive. Spain, even after facing a major financial crisis could gain 18%, and Ireland is more than 30% up. Whereas, Italys growth in the same period is approximately zero. In fact, using figures from IMF database, the economy is slightly smaller than what it was in 2000.

Italys gross domestic product remained flat in the second quarter of 2016 compared to a 0.3 percent expansion in the previous period and in line with preliminary estimates. It was the lowest GDP growth since the fourth quarter of 2014, as a positive contribution from foreign trade was offset by a contraction in domestic demand. Compared with the same quarter a year earlier, the GDP advanced 0.8 percent, above preliminary estimates of a 0.7 percent growth.



Net exports contributed positively to growth while domestic demand contracted. Government spending shrank 0.3 percent and investments also declined 0.3 percent while consumer spending advanced 0.1 percent. On the production side, there was an increase in the value added in both services agriculture sectors while industry contracted 0.6 percent.

Behind the jobs figures

To improve the economy, government increased spending which in turn raised government debt.

Before the beginning of financial crisis, Italys economy did expand, and later went into reverse. Looking at quarterly data, it is still approx. 9% below the peak it had reached before the crisis. Unemployment in Italy is very high, 12.7% in December. But the actual job situation is worse than what the unemployment figures suggest. The working age population who do have jobs is 55.6%. That is way below the Eurozone average of 63.8%. Spain and Greece are the only countries in Eurozone which have figures below Italys.

Big debtor

Another major problem that the country faces is government debt. Italy is one of the largest Eurozone debtor.Taking one example, as per International Monetary Fund estimates the Italian governments gross debt is more than 130% of annual GDP. Deteriorating economy growth makes it much harder to tackle this problem. Tax revenue has reduced and a stronger growth would mean that debt can be reduced which in turn will upturn the growth quickly.

Most countries in the world have primary deficits, but Italy has a surplus which is good for development and per IMF estimates the numbers even beat Germany.

Growth priority?

The last couple of years have been kind to Italy in one important aspect. Governments borrowing costs have come down drastically to a manageable level. Mr. Renzis governments main agenda appears to be faster growth and the signs point that he might be comfortable in letting government borrowing rise in the short term. Previously the effectiveinterest rates on 10-year Italian government debt were well over 7%, now which are at half the levels.It is worth mentioning that Italy remains by any measure a rich country and citizens of many other countries envy the quality of life there. But if compared to the neighbors and the rest of the world it has deteriorated. Italy could be a lot richer.

Conclusion

Can Italy end up like Greece? Greece in mid-2015 had a stagnant economy and 360 billion Euros of debt, which was 170% of GDP. Italy has a 130% of GDP debt, but being a bigger economy that amount stands at $2.1 trillion. The low Interest rates wont help if the amount is this huge and the economy is stagnant. If not taken proper measures to increase exports and cut down unnecessary government spending, in the coming years situation could be worse than what Greece was facing.

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Sep 14, 2016 at 16:14 o\clock

Trump will not release medical records to Dr. Oz

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump(Photo: Jim Watson, AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump will discuss health matterswith television doctor Mehmet Oz on Wednesday, but will save his actual medical records for a later date.

Trump's discussion with Dr. Oz to betaped Wednesday for broadcast on Thursday will be general in nature, aides said, adding that the Republican nominee will be releasing results from a recent physical "soon."

While Oz told Fox News he wants to ask Trump "pointed questions about his health," he also said he wouldn't press his guest on the issue.

Its his decision," Oz toldFOX News Radios Kilmeade & Friends."The metaphor for me is, this is a doctors office, the studio. So, Im not going to ask him questions he doesnt want to have answered."

Trump has repeatedly questioned Clinton's health and stamina, but hehas not referred to her health since Sunday's news that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia.

The GOP nominee has also not released medical records beyond a December statement claiming that Trump would be "the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency."

The campaign had suggested that Trump would discuss his recent physical with Oz, but aides said Wednesday that the program does not amount to a release of records.

The aides, who were not authorized to speak publicly about internal deliberations,said there will be a separate release of records but did not provide a date.

In his Fox interview,Oz said he doesn't think Trump would release "embarrassing" details on the program.

"I also dont want to talk about anybody else," Oz said. "Were not going to be talking about Secretary Clinton for sure."

The taping is closed to the press, so Trump's comments may not surface publicly until Thursday.

In the wake of Clinton's health situation, Democrats are starting to challenge Trump over his health.

"Hes 70 years old, hes not slim and trim," said Senate Democratic leader of Harry Reid of Nevada. "He brags about eating fast food every day.

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Jul 3, 2016 at 03:32 o\clock

"Brexit" lesson for American politics: smart people can be wrong - Michigan Radio

Daniel Howes, July 2nd, 2016

Dont believe the smart folks who say Britains vote to leave the European Union, and the wild show that passes for American presidential politics today, are just evidence of one big, transatlantic hissy fit. Theyre wrong.

Republican and Democratic leaders here, political classes on both sides of the pond and financial markets around the globe are demonstrating, once again, a remarkable disconnect from the concerns of everyday people from Liverpool to Lansing.

Imagine that. Nearly 52 percent of Britons voted to leave the EU, a move the smart set did not fully anticipate. Thats because they figured a majority wouldnt summon the gumption to make it. The so-called Brexit vote promises to shake the post-war global order, to reshape financial markets and to shift security alliances amid an unnerving geopolitical vacuum.

The Brits are not alone. Their decision presages the fraught choice implicit in the cage match between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump: how populism and false promises, offered by equally flawed candidates, can be packaged into a political balm both sides can sell to folks suspicious of elites.

Delivering the promises is another thing entirely. Britons are learning that bitter lesson quickly as asset values swoon, markets gyrate and politicians on the left and the right show they really dont have a plan to deliver Great Britain 2.0. We could be next.

Elections have consequences. Multinational corporations like Detroits Big Two automakers and Wall Street investment houses are rethinking their presence in the United Kingdom. Standard & Poors stripped the U.K. of its triple-A credit rating. Political parties there are in chaos. And what passes for British government is mulling methods to leave the EU, if any.

All of it promises uncertainty for business and for economic growth. It means reappraisal for global companies deeply planted in an EU that for too long denied the possibility that a Britain divided over immigration and badgering from Brussels actually would bolt.

A majority of Britons proved the smart people wrong.The vote is non-binding, legally speaking. But the message to the political class is undeniable: what about us?

Thats the same question Trump supporters areasking. Its the same question Bernie Sanders asked again and again during the Democratic primariesand clearly intends to take to the partys convention in Philadelphia.

What about the people who heard the rationales for trade deals, but paid for them with lost jobs and communities? What about the people who lost retirement savings and property values to a global financial meltdown they did not cause?

The vote is non-binding, legally speaking. But the message to the political class is undeniable: what about us?

What about the people increasingly fearful the disorder in Syria and Iraq will visit their shores in the form of terrorismchiefly because of the maddeningly mixed signals their leaders send on immigration and security?

Its too soon to answer those questions, or know how theyll play before American voters. But its not too soon to acknowledge that history and a reassertion of sovereignty can trump transnationalism and confound elites -- because in Britain they just did.

Daniel Howes is a columnist at The Detroit News. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.

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