Time.news – 2020 was the most catastrophic year in times of peace, due to the loss of life and the recession that hit the entire planet. From a strictly economic point of view, our country recorded a fall in GDP of 8.9%, double the average for world GDP (-4.4%).
In absolute numbers, it means that they have been lost 150 billion of GDP, 108 billion of consumption, 16 billion of investments, 78 billion in exports and 435,000 jobs.
The data are contained in the report “A first assessment one year after the outbreak of the pandemic”, developed as part of the MonitorFase3 project born from the collaboration between Legacoop and Prometeia Studies Area to test the evolution of the economy and markets as a result of the Covid-19 epidemic.
The blocking of many economic activities from March to May, determined by the lockdowns arranged to limit personal interactions, produced, in the second quarter of 2020, a drop in GDP of 17.8% compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.
The strong rebound recorded in the third quarter (+ 15.9%) bore in favor of the good reaction capacity of the Italian economy and gave good hope for the continuation of the recovery in the following months.
But the virulence of the second wave of the pandemic, which turned out to be more serious than expected in its ability to lay bare the fragility of health systems and prevention / tracking, together with the emergence of variants of the virus, has requested new and extended lockdowns, still in force, which have once again blocked numerous activities.
There is, however, a substantial difference compared to the first phase: now closures affect only the activities with the most intense social interaction, while they allow all the others to operate: first of all industry, construction, agriculture, but also many sectors services.
The economic effects are therefore more limited: in the fourth quarter of 2020, GDP recorded a fall of “only” 1.9% compared to the previous quarter.
A trend that seems destined to give timid signs of reversal in the first quarter of 2021, for which a reduction in GDP of 0.2% is estimated compared to the previous quarter.
A recession of this magnitude obviously also affected employment. Despite the measures implemented, at the end of 2020 there were 435 thousand fewer employees than the previous year, with losses concentrated above all among temporary employees (-412 thousand), self-employed workers (-141 thousand), young people (-312 thousand) who the women (-171 thousand) most present in the sectors most directly affected were able to enter the labor market and for whom a fixed-term contract was not renewed.
The study by Prometeia and Area Studi Legacoop also highlights how the crisis has widened the disparities between families and businesses. As for families, those in great difficulty increased, but also those with greater liquidity.
Against a disposable income that is estimated to have dropped by a total of 30 billion, household savings have grown as never before, reaching 131 billion (they were 71 in 2019), with an average propensity to save almost doubled (from 8 , 2% in 2019 to 15.6% in 2020).
Effect of a substantial stability of income for many workers (public employees, but also many of industry and services) and of a compression of consumption produced by lockdowns (people did not go on vacation, to the restaurant, to the cinema, to the theater, they bought fewer clothes while working in smart working).
A similar inequality is evidently recorded even among businesses, due to the profound asymmetries at the sectorial, territorial level, in the ability to access state subsidies. There manufacturing at constant prices, it marked a drop in value added by 11.5%, construction by 6.3% and services by 8%.
In the latter sector, the worst performances were those of commercial activities, accommodation, transport and storage (-16%), artistic, cultural and entertainment activities (-14.5%), professional, scientific and technical (-10.4%).
In contrast (+ 2.0%) the information and communication services. Emblematic, then, is the fact that precautionary reasons and the uncertainty of prospects have pushed companies to increase the use of loans, while keeping the funds acquired on current accounts.
The picture relating to loans and deposits of non-financial companies shows how, in 2020, the flow of loans (equal to 68 billion) corresponds to an even greater increase in the amount of deposits (83 billion), while in 2019 the flow of loans loans was negative for 10.3 billion and deposits totaled 32.5 billion.
“In time to take stock, we wanted to make an overall and realistic assessment of the incredible year we have lived”, he commented Mauro Lusetti, president of Legacoop.
“Many of the aspects of this crisis are confirmed in the right proportions from this assessment: the macroeconomic impact, which has hit our country more severely than others; the hard blow on the production system, but full of contradictions for asymmetries due to containment measures. And the asymmetries are also evident from a social point of view, to the detriment of the most fragile and exposed segments of our national community “, he added.
“However, we must see the glass as half full; which does not mean hoping for luck, but acknowledging the fact that after a year, and with a balance sheet in hand, we have important points of reference, and the “Great uncertainty” that we have repeatedly denounced should no longer frighten us. This unprecedented crisis has made clear the obligation to reduce inequalities and modernize the country ”, he continued.
The gravity of the situation was matched by an unprecedented commitment of economic policies, from the monetary policy of the ECB to that of the Italian budget, which launched expansionary measures equal to 108 billion euros, 6.6% of GDP.
The latter produced an increase in the net debt of public administrations from 29 billion in 2019 to 156 billion in 2020 (determined for 108 billion by the discretionary measures to combat the pandemic).
In short, a dramatic outcome resulting from the peculiarity of this crisis which, originating not from economic imbalances but from the limitations to social interaction introduced to face the spread of the virus, has taken on different characteristics from all past crises.
Precisely for this reason, the report notes, even the way out of this crisis may be different.
The assumption is that the vaccination process can continue as quickly as possible, also to limit the diffusion of “variants”, so that starting from the summer, also thanks to the warm season, the limits can be gradually removed and in the autumn economic activity can start towards the return to a “normality” that will hardly be the same as the pre-crisis one in many aspects, from consumption habits, to working methods, to the need for reallocation and conversion of many companies and workers.
Crucial to this transformation will be how the funds are spent Next generation Eu, which represent an extraordinary opportunity for the country to undertake that modernization of infrastructures, both tangible and intangible, which has long been held back by structural constraints and a lack of resources.