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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Moody’s may cut Italy's rating on concerns over new government

Move highlights doubts about new coalition’s fiscal plans

Italian Premier designate, Giuseppe Conte, takes a pizza before returning to his home, Rome, Italy, 25 May 2018. Rating agency Moody's may cut Italy's credit rating over concerns the new government may reverse earlier reforms. EPA 
Italian Premier designate, Giuseppe Conte, takes a pizza before returning to his home, Rome, Italy, 25 May 2018. Rating agency Moody's may cut Italy's credit rating over concerns the new government may reverse earlier reforms. EPA 

Italy’s rating may be cut by Moody’s over concerns about the new government’s fiscal plans and the risk that some important past measures, such as pension reform, might be reversed.

While “some of the coalition parties’ original proposals have been modified in the final coalition agreement, they would still lead to a weaker, not a stronger, fiscal position going forward,” the agency said in a statement on Friday. “So far, Moody’s has assumed a gradual deficit reduction over the coming years, which in turn would allow for a very gradual decline in the public debt ratio.”

Italy’s public debt stood at 2.3 trillion euros at the end of March, according to the nation’s central bank. With the second-biggest public-debt ratio in the eurozone, pledges by the new government of increased spending have unsettled financial markets. The Italy-Germany 10-year yield spread reached the widest since 2014 earlier on Friday.

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“Far from offering the prospect of further fiscal consolidation, the ‘contract’ for government signed by the two parties includes potentially costly tax and spending measures, without any clear proposals on how to fund those,” Moody’s said.

Italy is currently rated Baa2 by the agency, the second-lowest investment-grade rating.

The Five Star Movement and League party have published a coalition government plan that includes reviewing fiscal policy, bail-in rules and Basel banking accords.

Italy’s Premier-Designate Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday that protecting savers hit by bank failures is a priority and “those who have suffered fraud or have been deceived will be refunded”. Analysts and investors worry that the measures could slow the reduction of bad debt and hit banks’ valuations.

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