Informations and abstract
Keywords: Italian economic history, economic development, Italian economic policy
The book by Pierluigi Ciocca gives a very interesting overview of the history of the Italian economy from 1796 to the beginning of 2020, that blends together economic theory and policy, economic history, and an in-depth analysis of major historical events and of the evolution of political, social, and economic institutions. Our comments mainly regard two periods: the “Giolittian eraµ and the years 1950s-2020s. As to the “Giolittian eraµ, we substantially agree with the positive evaluation given by the author. As regards the rapid economic growth of the years 1950s and 1960s, as well as the gradual slowdown of the economy in the following decades, which are skilfully analysed by the author, we present a partially different interpretation. Our view is based on the application to Italy of the “Fordist model of growthµ for the years 1950s and 1960s, on the crisis of such model since the 1970s, and on the failure by our country to achieve, as was the case in Japan and then in South Korea, a rapid growth of knowledge and technological progress that could sustain economic development, and face rising international competition in a period of increasing globalisation. Moreover, the author provides a thorough analysis of the worsening of serious structural problems (north-south economic divide, strong economic inequalities, low employment rate, and excessive public debt), as well as of the deep weaknesses of our economic, judicial, and administrative institutions, which, together with the Great Recession of 2008-2012, and the Covid-19 pandemic, contribute to explaining the progressive economic decline of the Italian economy.