A book on economic history outlines the path taken by the Italian community
Getting to know the past in order to better understand the present, and above all to enable us to face the future in an effective manner. While the concept is not a new one, it should nonetheless be borne in mind. It’s a story that is always relevant, not least for companies which can use their knowledge of the path they have traversed in the past in order to guide them into a future that enables them to grow their culture of production. Within this context, “La strada smarrita. Breve storia dell’economia italiana” (The lost road. A short history of the Italian economy), a book written jointly by Carlo Bastasin and Gianni Toniolo, could prove a useful read.
This short text by two of the best historians currently working in Italy retraces the economic history of the country from unification to the present day, taking a clear, incisive approach and reflecting on the journey that has led the Italian people from poverty to affluence and then back into a challenging situation like the one we are facing today. The book sends a message: despite the current risks, recent history shows us that Italy is not doomed. Of course, we need to dedicate ourselves to the cause, and particularly in these days, our efforts must be redoubled.
Bastasin and Toniolo explain how in the last decade of the nineteenth century, Italy began its pursuit of the most advanced countries in the world, and by the end of the twentieth century it managed to achieve an income per capita not unlike that of Germany, France and the United Kingdom: a story of resounding success for an economy that was truly on its knees when unification occurred. However, as the two authors go on to explain, for a quarter of a century the Italian economy has grown much less than the European average. In other words, Bastasin and Toniolo suggest that the factors that had proved so crucial to development in the post-war era have proved to be poorly suited to the modern global economy. The income lost in the crisis from 2008-2013 has not yet been recovered, and the difference in the economic well-being of Italians and other Europeans and North Americans has regressed to the levels seen in the 1960s. This is the result of a number of factors, above all the climate of political, financial and institutional uncertainty which discourages investment, creating an environment that is hostile to growth and that is at risk of causing the economy to spiral. The events that are currently unfolding could serve to further aggravate this condition.
And yet, the book outlines a path that is in line with the positive progress achieved a few decades ago, provided that we make a serious, concerted effort to focus on training and education, on debt, and on the creation of a policy that can “lengthen time and broaden horizons”.
Bastasin and Toniolo have written a useful and interesting story, not least for entrepreneurs or managers seeking to gain a deeper, clearer understanding of the backdrop and context of their corporate activity.
La strada smarrita. Breve storia dell’economia italiana” (The lost road. A short history of the Italian economy)
Carlo Bastasin, Gianni Toniolo