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'I don’t see signs of a turn in the economy'

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13:06 CEST+02:00
Figures published by the national statistics agency, Istat, on Monday said Italians were feeling more upbeat about the economy. But those we spoke to begged to differ.

Italy’s economy has long languished, but the figures from Istat showed that people were feeling more optimistic about their current situation and future prospects, with the consumer confidence index climbing to 110.9 points in March from 107.7 in February.

Business owners were also feeling more confident, the agency said.

But the mood on the streets of Rome on Tuesday was anything but buoyant, especially since the latest job figures, also from Istat, showing the unemployment rate had climbed by 0.1 percent to 12.7 percent in February, were published on the same day. The rise reversed falls in the rate in December and January.

Angelo Licheri told The Local he doesn’t feel the optimism is real.

“I don’t see signs of any turn in the economy,” he added, blaming the lack of an “adequate government” for the dampened spirits.

Restaurant-owner Daniele Lunardini also blamed politics: “We’re not optimistic, because we know Italy and its politicians,” he said.

“So even though there is a real possibility of improvement, the politics make it worse. I don’t see a big upswing in the economy. Maybe there's been a small one, but expenses for businesses are still huge.”

Lunardi added that taxes have reached “unprecedented levels” and “everything is costly”.

A shop-owner in central Rome, close to the Trevi Fountain, said people were still cautious about spending.

“Those who have financial problems don’t spend because they can’t, and those who can don’t spend because there isn’t enough confidence to do so.”

Italy is battling to pull itself clear of the longest economic downturn since the Second World War.

Still, the economy is forecast to grow 0.6 percent this year and 1.3 percent in 2016. 

By Anna Pujol-Mazzini

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