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 Berlusconi Calls Cabinet Meeting Before G-20

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Join date : 2011-06-24

PostSubject: Berlusconi Calls Cabinet Meeting Before G-20   Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:46 pm

Nov 2, 2011 12:25 PM CT

Berlusconi Calls Cabinet Meeting Before G-20

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called a Cabinet meeting tonight to pass emergency economic measures before a Group of 20 summit as the nation’s borrowing costs remained near euro-era highs.

The Cabinet will meet at 8 p.m. in Rome, the premier’s office said in an e-mailed statement today. Transport Minister Altero Matteoli said it will pass a decree to speed up economic reforms pledged by Berlusconi in a letter sent to the European Commission last week.

Berlusconi is struggling to prevent Italy from succumbing to Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis. He vowed yesterday to accelerate measures such as easing labor rules to facilitate firing and selling assets after Italian borrowing costs surged to euro-era records following Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s decision to hold a referendum on its bailout.

“Italy doesn’t need austerity measures, what it needs is a plan for reforms,” Giuseppe Ragusa, an economics professor at LUISS University in Rome, told Bloomberg Television’s “Last Word” with Andrea Catherwood today. “It’s not about increasing taxes or asking for sacrifices right away,” it’s “an overhaul of the entire productive system.”

Yield Falls
Berlusconi wants to show he’s making progress in fighting the crisis when he meets with fellow G-20 leaders at the summit starting tomorrow in Cannes, France, newspapers including Corriere della Sera reported. The yield on Italy’s 10-year bond climbed as high as 6.34 percent yesterday, the highest since the creation of the euro. The yield fell to 6.19 percent today.

The premier and key ministers including Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti spent much of the morning working on the decree, following up on talks last night.

Tremonti was also leading a meeting this afternoon of Italy’s Committee for Safeguarding Financial Stability, which includes new Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco and Treasury Director General Vittorio Grilli.

The European Central Bank has been buying Italian government bonds since Aug. 8 in a bid to drive down borrowing costs for the country, which has the euro region’s second- biggest debt load at 120 percent of gross domestic product.

Bank of Italy
Italy’s commitment to the European Union to reduce its public debt and carry out structural reforms must be honored “consistently and rapidly,” Visco said in a central-bank report released today. Assuming that the government’s fiscal targets are met, the Bank of Italy estimates that the debt-to- GDP ratio will fall or stabilize “even if interest rates on government securities were to undergo significant increases.”

On Sept. 22, the government forecast the debt to rise to 120.6 percent of GDP this year before falling to 119.5 percent in 2012, 116.4 percent in 2013 and 112.6 percent in 2014.

Even if next year “the yields on all new issues of government securities increase by 2.5 percentage points over the baseline,” the debt “would fall to 115.5 per cent in 2014,” the Bank of Italy said in today’s report. The baseline yield on 10-year bonds was about 5.5 percent, according to the report.

Presidential Talks
President Giorgio Napolitano yesterday urged the government to immediately implement the promised economic measures, and said he was consulting with opposition leaders in a bid to seek the broadest possible support for the overhaul. He also met with Tremonti today, according to an e-mailed statement.

Napolitano’s appeal “was the closest a president can get to removing the prime minister,” James Walston, a professor at the American University in Rome, wrote in an e-mailed message today. “He’s already consulting with opposition leaders as if there were a government crisis.”

Italy needs to restore investor confidence by boosting economic growth and reducing debt, Corrado Passera, chief executive officer of Intesa Sanpaolo SpA (ISP), Italy’s second-biggest bank, said in an interview today.

Such steps may require “discontinuity in the leadership of the country,” Passera told Bloomberg Television. “I don’t know if this government can guarantee this discontinuity, but certainly a different strength, a different commitment has to be taken in terms of public accounts.”


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