There are a number of ways to describe economic cycles, which oscillate between expansion and contraction. Some of the best known are for example, a U shape, recession, short stagnation and then quick recovery, or a V Shape, where the recession is immediately followed by strong recovery. There are also W shapes, where after a recession and an apparent recovery there is a double dip. None of these letters really apply to Italy at this juncture. In fact the cycle it has been going through, resembles more a ‘bathtub’.
The advent of the Napolitano-Letta legislature could finally signal an emersion into the other ‘shore’ of the bathtub. This ‘grand coalition’ young government could achieve what Monti wasn’t able to complete, i.e. serious labour market reforms coupled with a sharp reduction in taxation. The key will be to convince Euro-Germany that a temporary relaxation of the 3% golden rule will be a pre-requisite for the return of growth.
Should this happen, investors would be wise to start looking more seriously at Italian opportunities in the distressed credit and real estate sectors, which are still benefiting from historically low rates.