Italy: Europe´s basket case?






Do Italians have an almost unrestrained penchant for running up debts? Are the country’s problems all home-made? And are Italians actually richer than Germans? So why is Germany helping Italy? Whenever there is turbulence on the financial markets in Europe – as with the Corona outbreak – these and similar speculations come up in Germany – and the suspicion persists that Italy simply does not fit in with the northern European stability culture.


In his “Campaign Against Italy Nonsense” Viennese economist Philipp Heimberger has tried to explain what lies behind those clichés. He concludes that much of what is said and written about Italy in Germany is based on distorted assumptions and misleading narratives. We invited Heimberger to discuss this with Daniel Stelter – one of the economists who has been most vocal in recent months about describing Italians as relatively rich, who should rather save themselves. But what does the data say?

Philipp Heimberger is an economist at the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies. He holds a PhD in economics from the Vienna University of Economics and Business and his research focuses on macroeconomics, public economics and international economics. With his twitter Campaign Against Italy Nonsense #CAIN, he wants to counter myths Italy’s economy and state.

Daniel Stelter is the founder of the forum and blog beyond the obvious, specialized on macroeconomic topics. After receiving his PhD from the University of St. Gallen, he has worked as a consultant for The Boston Consulting Group until 2013. He is author of books and columns on different economic topics.

The debate as re-live