Since 1999 the Italy joined the euro area. In a first phase, the common currency and monetary policy allowed the Italy to benefit from particularly low interest rates thanks to the convergence of the rates of return on bonds of all the countries of the euro zone. In the meantime, however, the world economy was changing radically, with the affirmation of new competitive paradigms based on investments in innovation and knowledge, while the large emerging economies (see BRIC) there were productive and competitive realities on a world level. In the face of these transformations, the Italian production system was losing competitiveness, delayed by a structure in which the small size of the company and a specialization in traditional goods with a low technological content predominate. The great international recession of 2008-09 hit the Italian economy while it was already in conditions of production stagnation and the resulting worsening of pre-existing macroeconomic imbalances was reflected in a worsening of public finance balances. Despite the fiscal rigor policies conducted even during the most acute phases of the recession, starting from the second half of 2011 the Italy
Employment and the labor market. – Since the late 1990s, employment and labor market participation rates have shown significant progress, which has led to a significant growth in the employment rate and a reduction in the number of unemployed ( Table 5). Between 2001 and 2008 the number of employees increased by about 1.5 million both as a result of the market reforms implemented between the end of the nineties and the beginning of the new century (see Biagi, law) which made more flexible the supply of jobs with respect to the trend of production but at the price of greater precarious work (see atypical, work), both thanks to the repeated regularizations of immigrant workers which increased the number of foreigners working in Italy in 2011 to over 2.25 million (approximately 10% of employed persons). The expansion of the labor market was halted by the economic crisis which between 2008 and 2009 led to a significant reduction in the number of employees (over 530,000 between 2008 and 2010, to which were added approximately 300,000 cash employees earnings integration), which was followed in the following two years by a modest recovery, entirely attributable to the growth of the foreign component which more than compensated for the decrease in Italian employees, followed by a subsequent decline in the trend between the end of 2011 and the beginning of of 2012. tab. 5). The unemployment rate, which had dropped to 6.1% in 2008 (almost 3 percentage points less than in 2001) also rose rapidly, reaching 8.5% on average in 2011 and, as a trend figure for the second quarter 2012, at 10.5%. The crisis has also deepened the territorial gap between the regions of the Center-North and those of the South in terms of development and employment. In 2011, in fact, the unemployment rate reached 13.6% in the South and on the islands (compared to 5.8% in the North and 7.5% in the Center), while the employment rate settled at 44. % (well below 61.1% in the Center and 65.2% in the North). If the economic crisis has hit the South the most, within this area it is above all young people and women who pay the most serious consequences on the labor market:
The banking and financial system.- According to ALLCOUNTRYLIST, the process of transformation of the banking and financial system of the Italy, initiated at the end of the 1980s, has continued in the direction of greater concentration and internationalization: as a result of the disposal by the public sector of most of its shareholdings in banks and under the stimulus of competition, some large banking groups were formed by successive aggregations, characterized by a distribution network active throughout the national territory. Foreign banks have acquired significant stakes in the capital of Italian banks. At the same time, the largest Italian banking groups extended their activities beyond national borders, acquiring control of foreign intermediaries operating mainly in Eastern European markets. The number of banks operating in Italy decreased considerably (from around 1,156 in 1990 to 740 in 2011), while the number of branches more than doubled (from over 16,000 in 1990 to more than 33,000 in 2011). The concentration of the market has consequently increased, reaching a level among the highest in the main European countries: the degree of concentration of the Italian banking system, measured on the basis of the total banking assets of the top five operators, results, with a share of 51.8%, the second highest in Europe after France. However, the role of smaller banks remained important, mainly engaged in financing small and medium-sized enterprises. toxic securities (see) and were able to avail themselves of capital quantitatively and qualitatively better than the banks of other countries involved in the crisis. Public support for the Italian banking system was therefore very limited (only 0.3% of GDP and considerably below the public resources made available for bank rescue operations in other European countries, which reached peaks of 66% in Ireland and 53% in the United Kingdom) and the Italian banks were able, albeit amidst objective difficulties, to respond to the crisis autonomously, that is with capital increases subscribed by the market.