Italy

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The Economist

Data di pubblicazione: 16/11/1935

Italy

«The Economist», 16 novembre 1935, p. 959

 

 

 

PUBLIC OPINION AND SANCTIONS. – The newspapers are more and more given up to stories of sanctions and counter-measures. The outstanding fact is the almost total disappearance of the sentiment of “traditional friendship” between Italy and England. It is today impossible to meet an Italian who dares to confess pro-League feelings. It has been said that the intervention of the League of Nations (which is taken here to mean in effect Great Britain) had worked the miracle of transforming the few remaining “anti-Africanists” here into fervent Colonialists. Sanctions have now accentuated this change of sentiment. Wholly apart from newspaper propaganda, sanctions are simply not understood by the man in the street. This may explain the extraordinary success of the anti-sanctions propaganda. “Why should they starve us?” the common people ask, and they are at a loss to find a reply.

 

 

Today, concluding a series of articles on counter-measures against sanctions, II Sole, the leading daily commercial newspaper, publishes a complete list of goods traded between Great Britain and Italy. The list is given in order that its readers may boycott anything coming from British sources. If goods are indispensable, people are urged to buy from non-complying League States: Austria, Hungary or Albania, or from U.S.A., Germany, Brazil, Paraguay and Japan. Sanctions are, of course, bound to do harm to Italy economically. But they will not prove unbearable, it is said, if consumers reduce their consumption or use substitutes. In the long run, according to protectionist writers, sanctions may even be beneficial. For instance, the meat consumed in Italy amounts to 700,000 tons per year, of which only 70,000 tons are foreign. The sale of meat is now limited to four days and four hours weekly. If consumption decreased proportionately the country would save 200,000 tons; therefore even if the de­cree has only a partial effect, it seems certain that a saving of 70,000 tons can be achieved. Imports of coal and coke in 1934 reached 11,781,354 tons, of which 7,451,352 tons came from “sanctionist” countries. Imports from other countries can now be increased, as well as internal production, which in 1934 amounted to 373,593 tons. Existing electrical plants can also be worked to the fullest capacity, and, at a price, the production of lignite could be increased. Italy produced only 408,616 tons in 1934, but 1,656,963 tons were produced in 1917.

 

 

The Problem of Oil Imports. – A thorny problem is that of mineral oils, of which imports in 1934 were:

 

 

 

Raw oil Tons

Lubricants Tons

Petrol Tons

Benzine Tons

Roumania

47,898

3,689

5,860

5,694

U.S.S.R

7,277

6,433

3,936

9,132

U.S.A

24,061

51,710

23,223

22,701

Persia

16,448

117,265

Columbia

63,688

Dutch E. Indies

5,569

3,282

Dutch W. Indies

3,908

18,936

Venezuela

2,093

5,440

 

 

The proposed counter-measures are threefold: first to increase imports from the U.S.A.; secondly to accelerate the transformation of engines from oil to other fuels; thirdly, to reduce consumption. Within limits, and informally, oil is rationed; but the simplest method is taxation. On benzine, for instance, the tax has been increased from 2,100 to 3,600 lire per ton.

 

 

The stocks of certain important commodities are as follow (in the ports and for goods marked * also in principal private warehouses).

 

 

 

August, 1934

Tons

August, 1935

Tons

Index No. in August

1935 (1930=100)

 
Wheat

390,613

327,643

157.2

Rice

5,718

10,525

126.2

Other cereals, vegetables, etc.

24,192

42,954

200.6

*Sugar

279,206

269,989

67.7

Coffee

14,743

7,873

94.6

Cheese and milk products

6,543

7,166

212.7

Cocoons

1,211

330

3.8

*Cotton

71,851

60,884

109.2

Wool

1,204

1,547

214.0

Fertilisers

3,498

9,921

40.7

*Wood

13,744

39,640

694.2

Sulphur

224,224

208,243

208.1

 

 

This list, compiled from data which are not fully representative, gives the impression that, except for a few commodities such as cocoons and fertilisers, Italy’s warehouses are well stocked.

 

 

Building activity, which until August was rising, has now fallen off. Between January and August, 1935, the number of new rooms authorised in the seventeen most important cities was 144,983, against 116,153 in the corresponding period of 1934. For the whole year 1934 the figure was 174,866 rooms, against 102.621 in 1933 and 81,568 in 1932. In September, 1935, however, the number of new rooms declined to 7,906, against 11,409 in September, 1934. The October and November figures will probably sink to zero, because the municipal committees, which authorise new buildings, were instructed in September by the Government to suspend new building schemes. Building materials will thus be economised.

 

 

The Official Gazette of October 31 publishes a decree (dated October 28) which authorises the Prime Minister to order, in case of exceptional circumstances of national necessity, that documents relating to the eco­nomic and financial situation of the State shall be kept secret and their publication suspended, even if provided by law. Obviously, only documents and data whose publicity would be dangerous to the State will be withheld from publication. The nation and the Government have always reaped great benefits from the full publicity given hitherto to monetary and financial statistics and data. From 1922 onwards the official statistics, and especially the Monthly Statistical Bulletin of the Central Statistical Institute and the Treasury and Bank of Italy balance sheets and monthly accounts, have stood very high in the eyes of the scientific world.

 

 

Turin, November 8.

 

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