The summary on the economic trend of the second half of 2021, released yesterday by Istat, must be handled with care.
E that + 17.3% on the second half of ’20 a number that must be read and forgotten.
He does not tell us anything significant about the itinerary of the Italian economy at the time of the Delta variant the confrontation with a tragic quarter, conditioned by the offensive of the virus.
The real comparison will be with the third quarter
If anything, it is worth waiting for the data on the third quarter of ’21, which will have to relate to a similar period of the decidedly effervescent ’20. But let’s go back to yesterday’s numbers: + 2.7% in April-June this year over January-March certainly a good result, even if a mere confirmation of what was expected by Istat in the preliminary estimate. This means that the growth acquired for 2021 of 4.7%, not a little. Consequently it can be deduced that the final GDP figure for the current year will end up oscillating between +5.5 and + 6%, as several independent research institutes claim.
More consumption than investments. The push for exports is less strong
It is also interesting to see how that 2.7 was largely driven by consumption by families and to a lesser extent by investments, while the export component was not as large as the results, for example of food, could give hope. Also in this case – household consumption – only what was hoped for happened, that is that due to a rotation effect in demand, citizens would resume spending where they had had to limit themselves due to health restrictions. The cyclical increase in hours worked (+ 3.9%) and in job positions (+ 1.9%) is also worth mentioning.
Having said that, one needs to be very cautious, the path that should lead us towards the desired 6% not downhill at all. On the contrary.
The slowdown in industry
First of all, a couple of indicators suggest it to us: the latest sample survey by the Confindustria Study Center on industrial production referring to July, it reports an unexpected contraction of 0.7% compared to the previous month e the Istat business confidence index in August, after 8 consecutive months of increase, it dropped from 115.9 to 114.2 (while that of families only suffered a filing from 116.6 to 116.2). Nothing transcendental but still a reversal of the trend.
Car factories stop without microchips. And, in the future, electronics
If we then pass from statistics to economic phenomenology, the recommendations to caution find new arguments. The first caveat comes from semiconductor supply crisis turned out to be more serious and longer than expected. Stops in the automotive industry are taking place all over the world and in Italy they have involved Pomigliano, Sevel in Atessa and now Melfi, the largest Stellantis plant in Europe. The September horoscope does not promise anything good and the risk that the semiconductor crisis will continue into 2022 is concrete. And at that point it could compromise not only the production programs of theauto but also those ofelectronics andmachinery industry.
The unknown of food prices
Finally, just invite you to keep an eye on the prices front. If the latest news indicates a cooling of the increases in transport and freight rates, the boom in food raw materials is creating tension along the supply chain, as witnessed yesterday by the debate of the Cibus panels in Parma.
The industry will be obliged to transfer the greater outlay for commodities downstream with the concrete risk of determining significant increases in consumer prices, which would cool down the greatest driver (household spending) of the GDP increases in recent months. .
But is it possible to live on exports alone? I would say no.