News Analysis: Italian leaders use Ambrosetti Forum to calm markets
ROME, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Italian political leaders did their best to assuage the concerns of investors and help calm jittery markets at the annual Ambrosetti Forum.
Italy was at center stage at the 43rd version of the event, held on the shores of Lake Como in northern Italy from Friday to Sunday. Normally, the event is a low-profile gathering of heads of state and government, ministers, Nobel Prize winners, key investors, and other leaders and intellectuals.
While global trade issues and taxes were on the agenda, the main topic of conversation was what might happen in Italy, one of the world's most important economies, which has been led since June 1 by a populist, anti-establishment government headed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
Since the Conte government was installed, yields on Italian government bonds have steadily climbed, reflecting investor nerves about the Italian economy and raising the cost for the government to borrow money. The main indexes on the Milan-based Italian Stock Exchange have been erratic since June, and political leaders from other countries worry that the Italian government may disobey European Union budget rules or perhaps even consider proposals to withdraw from the 19-nation euro currency zone.
"The Ambrosetti Forum is always important but this year it has played a particularly important role for Italy in terms of showing the world the government is reasonable, with its feet on the ground," Alberto Di Minin, a professor of management at the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, told Xinhua.
Italian government figures did their part.
In his address to the conference Sunday, Conte said that the country has never considered leaving the euro currency zone: "I can assure you we have never evaluated an exit from the eurozone, or the prospect of splitting away from Europe," Conte said.
A day earlier, Giovanni Tria, Italy's minister of finance, told those gathered that whatever spending plans the new government might float, leaders also recognize the need to slash debt in order to help markets remain calm.
"Italy has a government made up mostly of political newcomers and so learning to say the right things at the right time and to pay attention to what worries investors, that is important," Francesco Daveri, an economist with Milan's Bocconi University, said in an interview.
At least in the short term the remarks seem to have had their intended effect. The MIB-30 blue chip index on the Italian Stock Exchange rose 2.3 percent on Monday, the first market day after the close of the forum. It was the biggest one-day gain for the index in more than five weeks.
On secondary markets, the yield on Italy's benchmark ten-year bond was almost unchanged from its close on Friday. The yield, 2.74 percent, is lower than at any time since July 31, though still far above its levels from before the March general election that led to the Conte government, when the yield was as low as 1.65 percent.