Italy slides into recession after economy shrinks
Milan: The Italian economy contracted in the fourth quarter of 2018, dragged down by slowing European growth and global trade tensions, plunging the country into a technical recession, official data showed Thursday.
The 0.2 per cent contraction — following a 0.1 per cent fall in the third quarter - will put pressure on the populist government in the eurozone's third largest economy, which took power in June on the back of big-spending electoral promises.
Italy is Europe's second largest manufacturer and is currently the only European Union member in recession, although growth in export powerhouse Germany also fell in 2018.
The Italian economy suffered a harsh recession in 2012-13 and has enjoyed only slow growth since then. Overall growth for the full-year 2018 was just 0.8 per cent, according to figures.
Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte had anticipated the bad news on Wednesday during a business conference in Milan.
"Analysts tell us we'll likely still suffer a bit at the start of this year," he said, pointing the finger at a slowdown in China and Germany which are hurting Italian exports. "But all the elements are there to recover in the second half," Conte added.