The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

If Italian corruption were its own country, it would be the world’s 76th largest economy

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti addresses reporters at the Quirinale Presidential Palace in Rome. (Pier Paolo Cito/Associated Press)

Official corruption siphons 60 billion euros out of government finances every year, according to a new report by the Italian audit court. That's about $78.8 billion. Here are a few stats to put that into context:

• According to the IMF's economic data, Italian corruption losses are larger than the national economy of Serbia, which it ranks 76th in the world at $78.7 billion.

• This new economy would be roughly equivalent to the GDP of Italy's eastern neighbor, Croatia.

• In 2011, the Italian government spent $1.112 trillion and brought in $1.025 trillion, a gap it could close almost entirely by recovering estimated corruption losses for that year.

• Italian public debt is 120% of GDP, the eighth-highest in the world. It's worth over $2.5 trillion.

• It could be even worse than that: In his excellent article on Italy's culture of tax evasion, Anthony Faiola reported last year that "evaded taxes on legal commerce coupled with lost taxes from illicit or under-the- table deals are costing the national treasury about $340 billion a year." This would rank the Italian "shadow economy" between the national GDPs of Austria and Ukraine.

• A proposed anti-corruption law "has languished in parliament for two years," according to Reuters, but may now finally be headed for ratification. What's the rush?