Italy's public debt hits record 132.6 percent

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Italy's public debt is the second highest in the eurozone after Greece. Photo: Images Money/Flickr
11:17 CET+01:00
Italy's economy shrank by 1.9 percent in 2013, hitting a new record of 132.6 percent of GDP but staying within the European Union's limit in mixed news for the country's new government, official figures showed on Monday.

The contraction - which followed a shrinkage of 2.5 percent in 2012 - was slightly more than the government's forecast of 1.8 percent, the National Statistics Institute (Istat) said.

The figures suggest that new Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who took office last month, will have to work that bit harder to ease the ills in a country hit by widespread unemployment and social malaise.

The country's deep, two-year recession - the longest in postwar Italy, ended in the fourth quarter with 0.1-percent growth and Renzi has promised swift reforms to boost the flagging economy.

Italy's public debt rose to a new record of 132.6 percent of GDP, up from 127 percent in 2012 and the second highest in the eurozone after Greece.

However, the public deficit in the eurozone's third largest economy stood at 3.0 percent of GDP for the second year running, disproving fears it would breach the EU threshold.

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