Istat: 0.3 percent slowdown in November. Mediobanca: poor energy independence weighs. Consumer alarm: government intervenes
What’s happening to Italian industry? For the third consecutive month, production takes a step back from the previous month. Small, but significant: -0.3 percent. The slowdown is especially heavy on an annual basis: -3.7 percent. The data come at a delicate time, with a troubled maneuver just approved, high gasoline prices agitating the government and the ECB not at all determined to let up on its tightening of interest rates. Suffering the most, Istat data say, is production in the energy field, which in the monthly comparison marks -4.5 percent and in the annual comparison -16.2 percent. Specifically, among the sectors, in the supply of electricity, gas, steam and air there is a 4.5 percent drop on a monthly basis and a 17.1 percent drop on an annual basis. Also on a year-on-year basis, among the sectors of economic activity showing positive changes are the manufacture of transport equipment and the manufacture of computers and electronics products (+7.3 percent for both sectors), the manufacture of basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations (+6.4 percent) and the manufacture of other machinery and equipment (+2.4 percent).
These are numbers that worry consumer associations, “The recession specter is looming,” says Massimiliano Dona of Unc. “We need a change in the government’s economic policy. The executive is right that we need to focus on growth, because only if wealth is created can it then be redistributed, but in order to restart growth we need to restore families’ spending power. In fact, only if consumption takes off can businesses return to full production, otherwise they will not have orders. Consumption accounts for 60 percent of GDP. The fact that, according to today’s data, it is consumer goods that plummet the most compared to October, after energy, must be a wake-up call for the government. If consumers are not buying, businesses are not producing. It’s elementary.”
It’s an unknown lurking among investment banks as well. Mediobanca, in a report, speaks of a possible “mild recession” and a country that, at the European level, is “suffering from lower energy independence.” Within this framework, “rampant inflation” may dampen consumption. For Italy, the investment bank’s analysts write, there is “limited room for maneuver” and “the execution of the NRP” is crucial.