Italy looks to gold as an alternative to austerity

Published 26th March 2013

Categories: Reserve asset management

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Italian business leaders (91%) and citizens (85%) overwhelmingly agree that the nation’s gold reserves have an important and positive role to play in the country’s economic recovery, according to the first independent, nationwide poll of its kind since the recent Italian election in February 2013. 

The study carried out by Ipsos MORI, the independent research firm and commissioned by the World Gold Council, incorporates the views of a representative sample of 1,009 Italian citizens aged 16-70, plus a separate study of 300 business leaders(1) in the country.  Fieldwork started directly after the result of the general election was announced one month ago.

Key findings are as follows:

  • 77% of citizens and 82% of business leaders agreed that the “current state of the Italian economy was a key factor” in their voting behaviour.
  • Both survey groups favoured an economic policy which seeks to stimulate growth, with 59% of the general public and 60% of business leaders favouring such an economic policy.
  • A further 36% of citizens and 25% of business leaders preferred an approach which blends both growth initiatives and austerity measures.
  • Confidence in the near-term outlook for the Italian economy is limited, but there is greater optimism among business leaders, 51% of whom are confident that an incoming government might improve the economy. Conversely, 71% of citizens surveyed were not confident any government could improve the economic situation in the near future.
  • 88% of citizens and 87% of business leaders would back plans to make better use of national assets, to ease the nation’s debt burden and spur economic growth and employment, with 52% and 61% respectively supporting the use of national gold reserves to reduce the country’s debt costs. Just 4% would explicitly back any plans to sell the nation’s gold reserves.

Natalie Dempster, Director of Government Affairs at the World Gold Council said:

“This survey confirms that there is significant support among the wider population and business community for a renewed focus on growth. In rejecting austerity, the survey sends a clear message to the next government.”

“Both groups recognise that a catalyst is required and feel strongly that Italy’s national assets should be working harder for the people.  The suggestion is not to sell assets but a controlled programme which seeks to leverage state-owned infrastructure, gold and shareholdings to spur economic growth. This could provide Italy’s next government with the breathing space to work on longer term economic reform and recovery”  

Natalie Dempster continued:

“Italy holds more than 2,000 tonnes of gold in its national reserves, but selling it is not the answer and the Italian people recognise that.  The proceeds would have limited impact on the overall public debt position. A higher value option is to use gold as collateral and effectively produce five times its value, without selling it.  The World Gold Council calculations show that by deploying the gold as security for sovereign bonds Italy could raise over 20 per cent of its total two-year borrowing requirements.”

The research forms part of a broader body of work carried out on behalf of the World Gold Council by independent organisations and renowned academics into the role gold can play as a foundation in the global financial system. 

1. Representing a sample of 111 small companies with no more than 100  employees, 101 medium size entreprises with between 100 – 500 employees and 88 large companies with 500+ employees.

For further information please contact:

Brenda Bates
World Gold Council
T 00 44 207 826 4706
E brenda.bates@gold.org

Leonardo Sforza
MSLGROUP
T 00 32 273 792 17
E leonardo.sforza@mslgroup.com