Italy is in the grip of political transition and a slow-burning banking crisis.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned from his post this week, after losing a referendum on constitutional reform.

But it's not just political uncertainty that's worrying ordinary Italians. Their economic future also hangs in the balance.

Italy's banks, its oldest in particular, are saddled with billions of dollars' worth of loans that can't be repaid, so whoever leads the eurozone's third-largest economy into 2017 will have to fix the nation's debt-loaded banks.

Reporting on the start of the holiday season from Rome, Sonia Gallego says shops are encouraging Italians to spend, but a new government report puts one in four Italians at risk of poverty and social isolation. In the past few years, Italians have lacked job opportunities and some have seen their wages fall.

Is it a lost decade for the next generation of Italians? And will Italy's economic problems develop into a new test for the future stability of the eurozone?

Economist and author George Magnus, who predicted the 2008 financial crisis, says about Italy's economic woes: "The fundamental problem that Italy has failed to deal with and needs to deal with very urgently, is a banking crisis because its banks have been allowed to accumulate lots of bad debts. The economy has had no growth for 12 years.

"So, it's not reckless lending on the part of Italian banks, but just a fact that a stagnant economy has not provided borrowers with the wherewithal to service their debts, and banks have had to keep shovelling out new loans to keep them going. They have huge non-performing loans, bad loans now, and woefully inadequate capital."

While these issues should have been dealt with a lot sooner, "the lack of growth in Italy is really the corrosive ingredient that has soured the Italian banking system, more so than in other countries", says Magnus, who believes that a stable government is needed to change things.

Also on this episode of Counting the Cost:

Hyperloop: Concorde took to the skies 40 years ago, but was eventually grounded for good, more than a decade ago. With it, the dream of high-speed travel also stalled. But it's being revived. This time closer to the ground in the shape of passenger pods designed to be propelled along a network of vacuum-sealed tunnels. A US startup company called Hyperloop One has inked an agreement with the government of the UAE to conduct a feasibility study in Dubai. The idea is to move passengers at near supersonic speeds at a fraction of the cost of air travel. Bibop Gresta, chairman and cofounder at Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, discusses his company's latest efforts to bring this concept to reality.

The cost of protecting Trump: As Trump calls out Boeing for the cost of Air Force One, we ask how much does it actually cost to protect the next leader of the free world - on the ground and in the air? Too much, says the mayor of his hometown, Bill de Blasio, especially when Trump happens to live in the heart of one of the world's busiest cities. That's why New York is asking for $35m from Washington to keep Donald Trump's residence safe. Andy Gallacher reports from New York.

London Tower Bridge repairs: For the first time in decades, London's 120-year-old landmark is closed to road traffic for much-needed repairs. However, there are calls for a new river crossing. Neave Barker reports from London.

Source: Al Jazeera