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Italy's PM confident of growth despite gloomy predictions

By Eric J. Lyman (Xinhua)

10:28, September 25, 2012

ROME, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti on Monday said he thought after two consecutive years of decline, Italy's GDP would grow next year.

Differing from most who predict an uncertain future for Italy, Monti -- who took over as the head of a technocrat government in Rome 10 months ago -- told an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) meeting that Italy was on a path to positive economic growth in 2013.

If the prime minister is correct and the Italian economy does return to positive growth in 2013, it would contrast forecasts from industrial associations such as Confindustria, Italy's National Statistics Institute (which downgraded its growth estimates for next year only last week and predicted a contraction of 0.2 percent compared to 2012), and even those from the OECD, whose Secretary-General Jose Angel Gurria was seated near Monti as he made his comments.

The OECD's latest forecast, released in May, said Italy's economy may shrink 0.4 percent next year.

Monti, an economist, cited the recent 0.2 percent negative growth estimate from ISTAT, the Italian statistics institute, in his remarks. He said the period of growth would start in the second half part of the year, something the OECD predicted in its models as well when it said that economic "activity seems likely to decline over the next year but will turn up in late 2013."

The question, according to economists, is whether strong economic growth in the second half of next year will be enough to result in positive growth for the year as a whole.

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