Italy's consumer confidence took a nose dive in April according to the country's official statistics office Istat, as Prime Minister Mario Monti's ongoing austerity efforts push the nation into a deeper recession.
Confidence in Europe's fourth-largest economy fell to 89 from 96.3 in March, its lowest in 15 years, falling well short of the 96.2 predicted by economists in a Bloomberg News survey.
Monti's austerity measures include 20 billion ($26.26 billion) euros in cuts and tax hikes, including lower pensions, to stave off a debt crisis. Coupled with high gas prices, the measures have pushed Italy into its fourth recession featuring a jobless rate of 9.3 percent. The government forecast the economy will shrink 1.2 percent this year.
The prime minister's government has also introduced a revamped unemployment benefits system, as well as new rules that allow employers more leeway in firing workers, among other deregulations.
The drop is due to a technical correction after the rise seen in the previous months and to the fact that consumers are starting to become more aware of the negative effects of the austerity measures in the short term, Annalisa Piazza, a strategist at Newedge Group in London, told Businessweek.