Opera Omnia Luigi Einaudi


Tipologia: Paragrafo/Articolo – Data pubblicazione: 17/11/1934


«The Economist», 17 novembre 1934, pp. 922-923




A DRIVE AGAINST UNEMPLOYMENT. – Signor Pirelli and Signor Cianetti, commissioners of the Confederations of Industrial Employers and Employees, respectively, have signed an agreement intended to reduce unemployment. The unemployment figures show that there has been a slight decrease since 1933:















This improvement, however, is thought too slow; and it is hoped to accelerate it by increasing the number of men absorbed by public works above the present high-water mark average figure of 321,501 for September. The present big drive against unemployment includes the following features: 1) weekly hours of labour to be reduced to 40 in all cases where the reduction is technically possible; 2) a fund to subsidise men with big families, who are working only part-time, the fund to be maintained by a levy of 1 per cent, on the wages of fully-employed men. The levy is 5 per cent, on wages received for hours worked above 40. A corresponding payment of 1 and 5 per cent, is made by employers; 3) wage-rates are reduced in proportion to the reduction of hours worked; 4) overtime to be abolished; 5) women of all ages and men under 21 years must be, if possible, gradually discharged in all lines where adult men are more efficient; 6) the above rules about overtime and the employment of women and young men apply also to clerks and other non-manual workers.



The real meaning of the unemployment statistics is uncertain, as the figures include both assisted and non-assisted unemployed. In August, 1933 (the last month for which we possess the figures of assisted men), against a total, as above, of 888,560 unemployed, the assisted unemployed amount only to 143,334. The difference is pardy due to the fact that the real unemployed, after 90 or 120 days of assistance, are no more qualified for assistance; but it is partly due to the usual mass, existing in all countries, of men not qualified for regular employment.



The latest indices of industrial production point to an improvement:




Increase or Decrease per cent, in 1934 over the corresponding figure for 1933


January to August


– 10.3


Iron and steel

+ 4.4

+ 4.8


+ 6.2

+ 4.8


+ 17.9

+ 8.2


+ 43.0

+ 40.7

Electricity, gas, etc

+ 1.0

+ 6.0

General index

+ 5.2

+ 5.0



In the depressed textile group rayon is a cheerful exception, with an increase of 42.4 per cent, for August and 27.2 per cent, for the first eight months of the year. The big increase in the building industry is transient, as on December 31, 1935, the 25-years’ tax exemption for new building expires, and everybody is trying feverishly to complete building operations before that date.



INCREASING IMPORT SURPLUS. – Public opinion is much concerned about the state of foreign trade. The statistics for the period January-September, 1934, are as follows:







(000,000 Lire)




+ 97.9





Import surplus



+ 763.9



The Protectionists are alarmed at the big excess of imports, and impute to it the decrease of the gold reserve of the Bank of Italy from 7,396.7 million lire on December 31, 1933, to 6,098.8 millions on October 31, 1934. Their alarm is unfounded, as the only serious cause of concern should be the difficulty of importing much-needed raw materials and half-finished products. That some imports have risen as follows in the first eight months of the year should be a matter of gratification:







Coal, tons



Petrol, tons



Rubber, raw, tons



Cellulose, tons



Broken iron and steel, tons



Iron and steel, bars and ingots, tons





The reduction in other raw material imports, however, is disquieting:



Raw cotton, tons



Raw wool, tons





Industrial are complaining at the present restrictions on imports of wool, especially Australian, and the difficulties in obtaining foreign devisen payments. Clearings mean heavy delay in getting payments for goods sold. As the number of foreign tourists entering Italy from April to August, 1934, has been 1,619,937, against 1,370,083 in the corresponding period of the past year, the good results obtained by offering facilities to foreign travellers should be evidence of the much more favourable results which would follow the gradual opening of the frontier to foreign goods.



A very interesting study by Professor Repaci in the last September-October issue of La Riforma Sociale on the incidence of tariffs in Italy concludes that in the case of treaty-goods, i.e. goods taxed in virtue of commercial treaties with foreign countries, the present incidence is only 71.8 per cent, of the General 1921 Tariff. But, as the General 1921 Tariff was greatly increased as against prewar general and conventional tariffs, to compare 1933 with 1914, the increase in the general tariff (in old gold lire) is from 100 to 219.12, and in the effective average tariff, conventional and general, from 100 to 222.43. There is, therefore, ample scope for the removal of obstructions to foreign trade.



Turin, November 13.


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