Italy Locked Down

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CNBC notes Italy expands its quarantine to the entire country as coronavirus cases and deaths surge

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Italy will expand the lockdown of the Lombardy region to the entire country, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Monday as Italy’s case count surged, making it the country with the most COVID-19 cases outside of China.

People throughout the country of 60 million should not travel other than for work or emergencies, Conte said. He added that all public gatherings will be banned and sporting events suspended. The decision was made to protect the most vulnerable people in the country, he said, and the measures will take effect Tuesday and last until April 3.

“The right decision today is to stay at home,” Conte said. “Our future and the future of Italy is in our hands. These hands have to be more responsible today than ever before.”

Italy Plans Debt Moratorium

The Wall Street Journal reports Italy Plans Debt Moratorium to Cope With Coronavirus Lockdown

Italy is planning to introduce a large-scale moratorium on debt repayments, including mortgages, to help families and businesses cope with the coronavirus outbreak.

The announcement, made by Italy’s Deputy Economy Minister Laura Castelli in a radio interview, follows the government’s decision Monday to lock down the entire country. Economists expect the shutdown to lead to a sharp economic slowdown.

Relieving consumers and business from paying back debt could cushion the economy but complicates how Italy’s fragile banking system copes with the loss of revenue.

Italian banks have long been seen as a weak link in the European financial system. Stuffed with bad loans and suffering under an anemic economy, several have failed or been combined in the wake of last decade’s Europe-wide sovereign debt crisis.

Italy is in recession already, but if it wasn't these events would surely trigger one.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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