One of the most recent speeches by the Governor of Banca d’Italia manages to combine economy and literature and provide guidelines for a complete manufacturing culture
It is now something quite common: before the increasing digitalisation of the economy and of production, it is important not to lose sight of what is different from this. By excess, men and women against machines and computers. Which is not something to do or even to pursue, but it shows how important it is today – even in companies and more in general in economies – to watch the human and creative aspects of the production activity and everything which can be connected to it. In short, corporate culture all-round. Also made up of social responsibility towards what lies outside factories and offices. And also made up the coexistence of calculation and art, organisation and literature, knowledge all-round.
To this end, it is a good idea to read what was said and written by Ignazio Visco (Governor of Banca d’Italia) on the occasion of the 35th Seminario di Perfezionamento della Scuola per Librai (Seminar for the Improvement of the School of Booksellers) and in particular about the question: “Where are stories born?”.
In his “Investire in conoscenza” (Investing in knowledge) writes from the perspective of an economist and Governor, but also of a passionate reader. And he writes while managing to put together – in under twenty pages – reasonings that bind the good economy with a good read, finance with literature, the urgent need to resume development with the just as compelling need for a humanistic culture that is gradually being lost.
The story of the dense interweaving between literature and economy – because it is in fact a story – therefore starts with the answer to the question where stories are born (also in the economy), and then moves on to addressing the “changing world and delays of Italy” (summary of the progress and of the position of our Country) which ends up touching upon difficult topics such as the nature of human capital and skills and therefore training and education; lastly, he wonders where our society is actually headed. Visco then concludes by elaborating a response. The right path is to invest in culture and knowledge (in this respect, an albeit minimal positive change is detected). Elements that are not however purely technique and calculation, but something much broader.
Throughout the Governor’s text, highly disparate authors crop up, of various genres and all of whom fitting: Adam Smith and émile Zola, Ivan Turgenev and George Eliot and also Tolstoy, Sraffa, Keynes, Tomasi di Lampedusa, Durrenmatt, Wilder, Homer, Oscar Wilde, Tullio De Mauro and Federico Caffè, without counting Dante, Seneca and Socrates. All of whom at the service not of the economy or of literature, but of complete knowledge.
At one point, a quote of a passage by Durrenmatt about fate is rather striking (and thus indirectly about calculation, also in economics), taken from a crime novel (“The pledge” dating back about 60 years) that says: “You build your plots with logic. […] With logic, one only partially approaches the truth […] the disturbance factors that sneak into play are so frequent that too often it is only professional luck and fate which decide in our favour. Or to our disadvantage. […] A fact cannot ‘make sense’ like an account makes sense, because we never know all the factors necessary but just a few of the more secondary elements. And what is random, incalculable, immeasurable plays too large a part”.
Reading Visco is in this case – perhaps more than in others – a pleasant experience, to be enjoyed and repeated.
Investire in conoscenza (Investing in knowledges)
35° Seminario di Perfezionamento della Scuola per Librai (35th Seminar for the Improvement of the School of Booksellers) about: “Tradizione e innovazione in libreria” (Tradition and innovation in the bookshop), Final day: “Dove nascono le storie?” (Where are stories born?)
Venice, Fondazione Cini, 2018