Italy in very clear credit crunch

Another year of recession to come, says Standard & Poors

Italy in very clear credit crunch

(By Kate Carlisle) Milan, June 6 - Standard & Poor's chief economist for Europe, Jean-Michel Six, said Thursday that "Italy is in a very clear situation of credit crunch". He added that 2013 will be another year of recession for the country, with the ratings agency forecasting negative growth of 1.5% this year. "In 2014 we'll see the start of a very weak recovery," Six said at a conference in Milan. "The basis for a real recovery can come, above all, from true monetary, banking and fiscal coordination (in the eurozone)". Italy's credit crunch is expanding beyond medium and large enterprise and bleeding into small businesses too, Standard & Poor's director of corporate ratings in Italy said on Thursday. "Until now, difficulty accessing credit effected predominately medium and large companies, but now it has become a problem for all," Standard & Poor's Renato Panichi said. "Italy remains 'bankcentric' but company bonds will increase significantly," Panichi said. "There are a lot of opportunities for Italian companies, but we are still a little behind other competitor countries," the rating agency's southern Europe director, Maria Pierdicchi, said. "While it is true that our companies and production are different, smaller and more fragmented, we have many fine businesses that could successfully access corporate bonds," Pierdicchi said. Bank loans in Italy to households and non-financial companies dropped 3.1% in April with respect to the same month in 2012, falling to 1.458 billion euros, according to the monthly report by Italian banking association ABI released on Tuesday. Overall bank loans, including lending to financial companies and the public sector, decreased by 2.12% to 1.907 billion in April. Consumer spending has been muffled too in recession-hit Italy fell 3.9% in April with respect to the same month in 2012, retailers association Confcommercio said Thursday. It was the 17th year-on-year drop in the last 20 months, Confcommercio said. The association added that consumer spending was down 0.1% in April compared to March and that it dropped 4.4% in the first third of this year with respect to the first four months of 2012. It pointed out that this is alarming as the figure for the first third of 2012 was already 3.3% down on the same period in 2011. "The deterioration of households' employment and income conditions is causing demand dynamics that are even more negative in this first part of 2013 than they were in the first few months of 2012," read a report by the association. Confcommercio said it was particularly worried about the fall in spending on telecommunications goods and services, which was down 2.5% in April with respect to March and 0.1% with respect to April 2012. Spending in this sector had frequently bucked the negative trend in recent months and managed to rise.

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