Since the 1990s, Italian leaders have tried to overhaul the sclerotic economy while also running tight budgets. Mr. Draghi is the first in decades who can deploy massive fiscal firepower to help.
Italy’s economy has rarely grown by more than 1% annually over the past quarter-century. The economy has never fully recovered from the global financial crisis and subsequent eurozone crisis, and slumped by another 9% in 2020 amid the pandemic and strict lockdowns.
Germany, France and other EU countries backed the recovery fund mainly for fear that Italy and Southern Europe could get stuck in another deep economic slump that once again tests the cohesion and survival of the eurozone.
Most of Greece’s debt is in bailout loans from the rest of the eurozone, with no repayments due for many years, making another Greek debt crisis unlikely for a long time.
Last week Austria, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland all suspended the administration of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, citing reports of blood clots occurring in a few folks who had been inoculated with it. Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Thailand, and the Netherlands have now joined them.
“There is no causal effect established or anything like that yet,” Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin told CNBC, “but as a precautionary move in line with the precautionary principle and in an abundance of caution, our clinical advice was to pause the program whilst the EMA does a review of this.”
The precautionary principle is an ideological construct that eschews risk-benefit evaluations and essentially requires that all new technologies be somehow proved entirely risk-free before they can be used.
A year into the pandemic, early data and surveys point to a baby bust in many advanced economies from the U.S. to Europe to East Asia, often on top of existing downward trends in births.
A combination of health and economic crises is prompting many people to delay or abandon plans to have children. Demographers warn the dip is unlikely to be temporary, especially if the pandemic and its economic consequences drag on.
“All evidence points to a sharp decline in fertility rates and in the number of births across highly developed countries,” said Tomas Sobotka, a researcher at the Wittgenstein Center for Demography and Global Human Capital in Vienna. “The longer this period of uncertainty lasts, the more it will have lifelong effects on the fertility rate.”
Italy is making its first foray into the green bond market, the latest major debt issuer to tap into one of the fastest-growing sectors of finance.
The nation is selling debt maturing in 2045 via banks, an unusual tenor that is expected to draw interest from domestic investors as well as specialist environmental funds. European nations are piling into the market as they seek to finance a greener recovery from the pandemic.
COVID-19 had a greater impact in northern Italian cities among subjects aged 75–84 and 85+ years. COVID-19 deaths accounted for half of total excess mortality in both areas, with differences by age: almost all excess deaths were from COVID-19 among adults, while among the elderly only one third of the excess was coded as COVID-19. When taking into account the mortality deficit in the pre-pandemic period, different trends were observed by area: all excess mortality during COVID-19 was explained by deficit mortality in the centre and south, while only a 16% overlap was estimated in northern cities, with quotas decreasing by age, from 67% in the 15–64 years old to 1% only among subjects 85+ years old.
When governments realized death tolls were too low, they revamped the way they counted them
Weeks after the virus hit Italy last year, doctors, funeral homes and officials realized that government Covid-19 death tolls were too low and many victims weren’t getting included. Informal tallies quickly revealed that thousands of deaths most likely caused by the virus had been omitted. Limited testing left the number of infections unknown, and many people had died outside hospitals, which were the initial source of fatality figures.
Italy’s statistical agency, Istat, scrambled to assemble more reliable information, collecting data from towns and cities faster than ever before. In May, it revealed what people at the front lines had suspected: a 39% jump in nationwide deaths between Feb. 21 and March 31 compared with previous years.
“Normally, they [the data] would have arrived six months later,” said Istat President Gian Carlo Blangiardo in May. “We made an extraordinary effort.”