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Italy's Gaffe-Prone Populists Look on Recession's Bright Side

  • Conte, Di Maio make blunders as GDP data shows contraction
  • Opposition slams credibility of ruling coalition’s comments
Giuseppe Conte
Giuseppe ContePhotographer: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

Italy has slipped into a recession during the populist government’s eight months in power, but its leaders remain convinced it’s only a blip.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte let the cat out of the bag on the eve of a highly-awaited fourth-quarter gross domestic product number released Thursday. He admitted the economy would shrink, sparking criticism that the numbers had been leaked to him -- which he denied. Despite the bad news, he insisted things would improve in the second half of this year.