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The Economist

Italy

«The Economist», 20 ottobre 1934, pp. 728-729

 

 

 

THE CORPORATIVE STATE. – Public opinion has lately been less focussed on foreign affairs than on the development of the new “Corporative” system. Signor Mussolini’s words are eagerly waited. At Milan, on October 6th, after repeating the thesis that the present crisis marked the end of “Liberal capitalistic civilisation”, the Duce rejected the alternative of State Socialism, on the ground, among others, that he did not want to multiply State employees by ten. The true solution, he said, was the Corporative one, which entrusted to producers the self-government of industry. This meant guaranteed work, a just wage and a decent home for the worker, as well as a more effective part in the regulation of the productive process. This speech will surely give food for reflection, but not for uneasiness, to the employing and capitalist classes.

 

 

The policy of deflation in order to maintain the present gold parity of the lira is being continued. To decrease the debt burden on property, the interest on land and real estate bonds issued by the “Crédito Fondiario” Institutes (Land and Real Estate Banks) have been made convertible from 6 per cent., 5 per cent, and 4.50 per cent, to 4 per cent. Bearers were able to ask for reimbursement in the ten days from September 20th to 29th. Bondholders asked for the reimbursement of only 63.2 million lire out of a total of 4,300 million lire. Tax exemptions have been attached to the new loans which the Credito Fondiario Institutes will grant to assist the conversion of onerous private debts into the new 4 per cent. type. The new bonds are exempt from income-tax. On the other hand, the exemption granted in 1926 to bonds issued by joint-stock companies has been suspended. While taxation at 20 per cent, on the interest on industrial bonds will render the issue of new bonds more difficult, it will assist the issue of the securities through public institutes, such as the I.R.I. and I.M.I., which will presumably continue to be tax exempt.

 

 

During the first two months of the current fiscal year (July-August, 1934) public expenditure was 2,420.6 million lire and public revenue was 2,563 millions. The deficit for the period was 315.7 million lire, against 717.7 millions in the corresponding period of 1933. Such a deficit is com­patible with a cash surplus. The Italian Budget includes in “expenditure” not only sums paid, but sums which are legally due, but which may be ac­tually paid in the distant future. In view of a decreasing Budget deficit and a surplus of cash, there is no need for the spectacular foreign loan which has been rumoured.

 

 

FLOATING DEBT AND GOLD RESERVE. – It is possible that in the more or less distant future free conversion of the Floating Debt into a Redeemable or Consolidated security may be arranged. The Floating Debt amounted on August 31st to 11,161.7 million lire, a somewhat unwieldy proportion of the total debt of 103,159 millions. The whole Floating Debt takes the form of an overdraft at the Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, the State bank, which administers the postal office saving deposits. The total Floating Debt is approximately equal to the net amount outstanding of Postal Savings Certificates (11,523.6 million lire on July 31, 1934). These certificates, which have a maximum currency of 15 years, have proved a splendid instrument for the encouragement of savings. The certificate can always be cashed on demand, but as the interest paid increases progressively from 3 to 4.50 per cent., if the certificate is kept until the end of the fifteenth year, they are frequently allowed to run their whole life.

 

 

The position of the Bank of Italy continues to give rise to some concern, owing to the fall of the gold reserve (in million lire).

 

 

 

Dec. 31, 1932 

Dec. 31, 1933

Sept. 30, 1934

Gold and gold devisen reserve

7,144

7,397

6,240

Notes issued

13,672

13,243

13,455

Advances and discounts

6,539

4,693

4,746

Official rate of discount

5

3 1/2

3

 

 

It is hoped that the outflow of gold may cease, as the passive balance of trade is decreasing. According to the prevalent mercantilist theory, the decrease of the Bank’s gold reserves is the effect of the foreign trade deficit. In recent speeches, however, Signor Asquini, Under-Secretary of State for Corporations, warned industrialists not to rely too much on prohibitions, protection and quotas, but on sustained efforts toward a reduction of costs.

 

 

Turin, October 14.

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