NAPLES, ITALY - 13 MAY 2020: Matteo Garofalo (43), a stage manager, poses for a portrait at the Teatro Augusteo theater in Naples, Italy, on May 13th 2020.
Matteo Garofalo has had a successful career as a stage manager, most recently touring Italy with a musical adaptation of the film “The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert,” about a drag queen on a road trip.
But since theatres won’t be able to host packed audiences any time soon, Mr. Garofalo is already looking for alternatives: He has applied fruit and vegetable harvesting jobs.
“I have enough savings for several months, but no job prospects,” said Mr. Garofalo, 44. “I’m always hopeful the situation will change. But I need to do something. Cash is what makes the world go round. If not they will cut my electricity and I won’t have anything to eat.”
The coronavirus pandemic has precipitated one of the worst economic downturns in generations across the world. But few major economies are likely to suffer as much as Italy’s, or take longer to recover.
The health emergency has already left hundreds of thousands of Italians unable to pay for their own food for the first time. Experts warn that the poverty crisis is only just beginning, and that many of those who abruptly plunged into poverty may never be able to lift themselves out of it – even once the pandemic is over. Italy, more than its Western European neighbors, is ill-prepared to deal with a crisis of this magnitude. Its big problem is that its economy never really recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, leaving families poorer and the government much more indebted today than it was then.
CREDIT: Gianni Cipriano for The Wall Street Journal