The text of a speech by the Governor of the Bank of Italy provides an insightful analysis of the situation and prospects for Italy
Acting now, and getting it right. With a close eye on the future. This is the message that the Governor of the Bank of Italy, Ignazio Visco, sought to convey in “Le prospettive e le necessità di riforma dell’economia italiana” (The Italian economy: prospects and the need for reform) a speech given as part of the States General of the Country in June 2020. Visco’s analysis is useful for at least two reasons. First and foremost, it delivers an effective summary of the situation and the possible prospects for Italy, and uses clear, careful language: a rare occurrence, particularly these days.
In addition, the plan that Visco proposes is based on a number of steps: it is a wide-ranging project composed of a series of specific economic measures and – above all – of a positive, proactive approach that is still sorely lacking in Italian institutions and the economy.
The Governor does not seek to underplay the complexity and uncertainty of the situation, but he explains: “This high level of uncertainty must not be an excuse for inaction.” But how can the steps proposed be achieved? In terms of method and with regard to economic culture in its purest form, Visco reminds us – as he did before, a little while back – of Keynes, and his suggestions, 80 years ago, of “possible ways of facing the difficulties of a great war at an economic level.” The best strategy for the immediate future, Visco says, “is to develop a good plan for the medium to long term.”
A long-term vision, then, is precisely what Visco proposes, stating in the same speech that “a completed project makes our perspective clearer, and has a positive influence on expectations as well as increasing confidence.”
The Governor then indicates three macro-areas in which the intervention must be based: public administration, innovation and safeguarding the country’s natural and artistic heritage. What matters most, however, is the need for action that Visco succeeds in communicating, as well as the attention to the individual, as opposed to just the numbers. “The resources,” says Visco, “must be channelled into the areas where the highest social returns can be achieved.”
Effective planning, then, is what counts, and therefore, a positive vision of the future that is dependent on the resources of the country, which are there, despite everything. The text of Visco’s speech is well worth reading, not only for his effective summary of the situation we find ourselves in today, but also in light of the growth of a business culture that must always look ahead, and never focus exclusively on the past.
National consultation, Rome, 13 June 2020