Just under ten years ago, during June 2006, Mittal Steel finally gained control of Arcelor, creating what in turn is still today the world’s largest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal.
A recent article in The Economist highlighted the problems being faced by US manufacturers in the face of a strengthening dollar.
Indeed, with economic data for Europe increasingly surprising on the upside so far this year, and that of the USA increasingly disappointing, there are ever more questions over whether the positive economic data coming out of Europe is merely coming at the expense of that in the USA following the large shift in value of each region’s currency.
Put simply, US goods have become much more expensive in overseas markets while European goods have become relatively cheaper.
A look at the world’s tinplate industry, which has shown little-to-no global growth over the past decade, suggests that growth in one region at the expense of growth in another is very much a real phenomenon.
The phrase ‘sick man of Europe’ has been used time and again over the past century, and used against almost every individual European state at one point or another to describe a country afflicted by economic adversity or impoverishment.
During much of the 1970s the UK enjoyed the dubious honour, while in the 1990s it was Germany’s turn. With their inability to balance a government budget for more than 30 years, both France and Italy have regularly contended for the title.
Nowadays it is a hotly-disputed mantle and, depending upon which statistics are looked at, a case could be made for any number of countries. In the European steel industry, however, there is one market that stands out as suffering particular adversity. That market is Italy.