Following on from 10 charts (part 1), which included the first five challenges facing the next Italian government, here are the next five as we head towards Italy’s general election.
Corruption is a plight for the country that together with bureaucracy prevents an efficient allocation of resources and discourages investment. Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Italy 72nd out of 182 countries evaluated in 2012, three positions lower than the previous year. The perception of corruption of Italians is particularly high for the political system, which is one of the main reasons for the country’s political instability and poor governability.
Italian general elections on February 24 and 25 will determine the members of the Chamber of Deputies and of the Senate, the two houses of its parliament. This new parliament will face various structural factors behind the country’s weak performance.
Here is the first instalment of the country’s top challenges in 10 charts – another five are set to follow later in the week, so stay tuned.
1) Stagnant economy in the past decade
The Italian gross domestic product is lower than at the beginning of 2001 and the decline does not show signs of reversing. Even Spain and Greece with their deep economic contraction during the crisis are better off than at their levels at the start of the last decade thanks to their strong growth performance before 2008. Italy had sluggish growth even in the first half of the past decade and the additional output that has been created was totally wiped out with the crisis.
The number of self-employed in the UK rose by 60 per cent between 2011 and 2012 and now accounts for about 14 per cent of all people in employment.
This is a striking contrast with the rest of the OECD countries where the proportion of self-employed is generally declining. In 2011, there were between 2 and 5 percentage points fewer self-employed in South Korea, Turkey, Portugal, Japan and Italy than six years before. Most of the other OECD countries reduced their proportion of self-employed even if more slowly. Read more
Berlusconi, the billionaire former Italian prime minister pledged to reimburse Italians €4bn for an unpopular property tax. This is probably the first time he has promised to give money back, but it is definitely not the first time he has pledged to cut taxes.
Berlusconi lavished promises of tax cuts periodically throughout the past decade, but he failed to translate them into reality, even when he was in power from 2001 to 2006 and again from 2008 to the end of 2011.
In fact, according to the OECD the average income tax rate increased in Italy across all types of households, whereas it was reduced in most other OECD countries. Read more
The UK census data revealed that about eight per cent of the resident population speaks a language other than English as their main language.
This is not a large proportion, at least compared with many advanced countries. Read more
House prices in Europe are falling according to Eurostat’s first house price index. House prices are widely monitored at a national level but there is shortage of comparable measures across countries. This new index partially covers this gap, but the picture it portrays is not encouraging.
Indian car sales continue to slow down. This is being reported as a sign of a broader economic slowdown. But car sales is not the most representative measure of vehicle sales in India – most people drive two-wheeler vehicles.
Passenger car sales growth slowed to below 3 per cent in the first half of 2012, down from over 30 per cent at the end of 2010, but it now shows signs of recovery. The story that emerges when looking at two-wheeler vehicles is quite different, though. Read more
Chinese exports grew faster than expected in December, lifting hopes for a prompt recovery from the country’s slowdown. The December reading for exports is certainly good news, but there should be caution in looking at monthly export figures. Read more
Labour productivity continues to fall in the UK, today’s latest ONS release shows.
Output per hour dropped by 0.2% in Quarter 3, 2012, compared to the previous quarter. This means a fall of over 2% compared to the same period last year and over 3% compared to the pre-crisis period. This is a particularly striking drop considering than in the five years before the financial crisis labour productivity rose by over 12%.
The reasons for this remain rather a puzzle. And a look at other European countries confirms that the UK is unusual. But it’s not unique. Most core European countries had a drop in productivity levels compared to those in the US. But their performance varied considerably during the last few years of economic crisis, as this chart highlights … Read more
At the start of this year, Mario Monti, the Italian prime minister, unveiled a programme of liberalisation, which together with austerity measures were meant to put the country back on track for growth.
The package triggered protests from taxi drivers, pharmacists, petrol station operators and lawyers – all professions that were included in the liberalisation plan. The measures also targeted the gas and electricity market, the insurance sector and local public services. The aims of these plans were to reduce the costs of goods and services to consumers and to foster competition among providers, with cheaper products and services making the austerity measures easier to digest.
Chinese exports grew less than expected in November, fueling fears of a further economic slowdown. But exports from western inland Chinese regions have never grown so fast as in 2012, beating export growth rates of the rich industrial coastal regions.
Chinese export growth declined to 2.9 per cent in November from 11.6 per cent in October. On a rolling 12-month sum exports grew at an annual rate of 7.9 per cent in November, a figure well below the more than 30 per cent growth of the late 2010 and early 2011 and marks a 28-month record low. But not all regions in China experienced the same slowdown.
Today, World Diabetes Day, is a good time to look at what countries weigh. Not in economic heft or population numbers, but the actual physical weight of their population.
Specifically, we established countries’ share of the global population and their share of global weight (using data on their average body mass index (BMI) and their average height for the male population over 20 years old). Then we calculated the difference between these two measures.
The weightiest countries are the US, Mexico and Brazil: their share of the total global body mass is bigger than their proportion of the global population. All three countries have an average body mass index of above 25, which corresponds to being overweight. Read more
The UK Department for Transport is under fire over the cancellation of a deal to award a rail franchise, because of “technical flaws” in the bidding process.
The incident brings the British railway system back into the headlines, where it has often been because of contested fare rises. Complaints about the railways may be something of a national sport, but according to a survey published last month by Eurobarometer, the European Commission body that analyses public opinion, people in the UK are more satisfied with their national and regional rail system than most of their European counterparts. Read more
The US has shown a turnround after data released by the Institute for Supply management showed an index rise in manufacturing after three months of consecutive contraction. However, there are doubts whether the positive trend will continue in the the near future for the US, whereas for India, Russia and Turkey, the expansion seems more robust.
In India, manufacturing output in September expanded at a faster rate than in August, with its order book rising and new export orders increasing for the first time since June. Rising demand has also helped Turkey, in addition to new business from abroad, after a fall in output in July and August. Read more
Ever feel you’ve read all there is to read about China’s growth as a world manufacturing power? Well, did you know that China now has almost complete control of the world’s umbrella market?
China exported over $2.4bn of umbrellas, walking-sticks and whips in 2010, over three quarters – and rising – of global export share.