The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper examines whether a tipping point exists for real GDP growth in Italy above which the
ratio of non-performing loans (NPLs) to total loans falls significantly. Estimating a heterogeneous
dynamic panel-threshold model with data on 17 Italian regions over the period 1997-2014, we
provide evidence for the presence of growth-threshold effects on the NPL ratio in Italy. More
specifically, we find that real GDP growth above 1.2 percent, if sustained for a number of years, is
associated with a significant decline in the NPLs ratio. Achieving such growth rates requires
decisively tackling long-standing structural rigidities and improving the quality of fiscal policy.
Given the modest potential growth outlook, however, under which banks are likely to struggle to
grow out of their NPL overhang, further policy measures are needed to put the NPL ratio on a firm
downward path over the medium term.