Italian central bank chief takes populists to task

MILAN (AP) — The head of Italy’s central bank has issued strong warnings against some of the populist government’s economic prescriptions.

Ignazio Visco’s annual address in Rome on Friday coincides with a deadline from the EU Commission for Italy to explain why it is lagging in debt reduction.

Visco said raising the public deficit, as sought by vice premier Matteo Salvini, could prove counterproductive if public finances deteriorate and private sector spending contracts. He also called for economic stimulation programs, saying that the lagging economy in the south cannot only be addressed with monetary transfers, a reference to the 5-Star Movement’s basic salary program.

Visco said “holding Europe responsible for our troubles is a mistake,” adding that “it diverts attention from the real issues.”

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