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The Economist

Italy

«The Economist», 18 febbraio 1939, pp. 18-19

 

 

 

AGRICULTURE AND INDUSTRY. – The agricultural year was reasonably sa­tisfactory, yields being generally higher than in recent years. The wheat crop was 8,100,000 tons, against an annual average of 7,323,000 tons during the three years 1935-37. Similar comparisons for other crops run as follows:

 

 

(Tons)

Annual Average

1935-37

Actual Yield 1938

Rye

141,000

113,000

Barley

210,000

248,000

Oats

539,000

629,000

Spring maize

2,981,000

2,936,000

Rice

753,000

(est) 686,000

Hemp

87,000

109,000

Flax

2,500

3,600

Grapes

6,185,000

5,971,000

 

 

Price were from 10 to 20 per cent, higher.

 

 

The following are the indices of industrial production published by the Corporation Department (1928=100):

 

 

 

 

1935

1936

1937

1938

11 mos.

1938 Nov.

Textiles

76.8

70.1

83.7

82.3

94.6

Iron and steel

112.2

106.0

114.1

111.3

115.1

Engineering

101.9

120.0

131.8

134.1

138.7

Paper

139.7

123.2

150.0

142.8

147.6

Building

162.3

91.9

95.9

89.7

98.4

Electricity, gas

135.8

140.5

154.6

156.9

152.6

Minerals, etc

98.9

110.3

127.8

135.0

137.8

Chemicals

99.6

107.4

133.2

129.4

136.8

General index

102.4

95.5

108.7

106.9

115.8

 

 

The general index progressed from 105.5 in January to a maximum of 114.7 in March, falling to a minimum of 88.8 in August, rising again to 108.4 in September and to 115.9 in October.

 

 

FOREIGN TRADE. – Trade with the colonies is now separately stated.

 

 

 

 

 

Imports (-) Exports (+)

 

Imports from

Exports to

Surplus in trade with

 

Colonies

Foreign Countries

Colonies

Foreign Countries

Colonies

Foreign Countries

1929

22,313

14,999

-7,314

 
1933

78

7,354

212

5,579

+ 134

-1,575

 
1934

93

7,582

259

4,965

+ 166

-2,617

 
1935

117

7,673

750

4,488

+ 633

-3,185

 
1936

157

5,882

1,718

3,824

+ 1,561

-2,058

 
1937

350

13,592

2,580

7,853

+ 2,230

-5,739

 
1938

206

10,918

2,419

7,960

+ 2,213

-2,958

 
1937*

207

8,027

1,524

4,638

+ 1,317

– 3,389

 
1938*

154

1,429

4,701

+ 1,307

-1,747

 

*converted into lire at the legal rate before the realignment of October 6, 1936.

 

 

The adverse balance of trade was drastically reduced, almost exclusively by reducing imports. Reductions were possible partly through good wheat and corn harvests, partly because stocks, depleted during the African campaign, were replenished in 1937; and, finally, through better terms of trade with foreign countries. Foreign trade is now at a lower level than in 1933. The direction of trade has also changed. (See table at p. 764).

 

 

Germany is the only country which appears to be increasing her trade with Italy.

 

 

TRAFFIC. – Internal traffic is growing. The State Railways have fared as follows (from July 1st to June 30th). (See table at p. 764).

 

 

 

Imports

Exports

 

1933

1937

1938

1933

1937

1938

United Kingdom

727

561

703

689

639

580

France

413

491

248

459

438

322

Switzerland

271

412

373

483

507

489

Germany

1,143

2,589

2,981

729

1,503

1,983

Austria

175

631

131

289

United States

1,115

1,539

1,316

529

783

774

Argentina

248

1,054

271

381

402

404

 

 

 

Tons Carried

‘000 omitted

Traffic Revenue Million Lire

 

Passengers

Goods

Total

1933-34

40,214

1,126

1,593

2,719

1934-35

42,796

1,101

1,514

2,615

1935-36

47,089

1,188

1,968

3,156

1936-37

51,481

1,284

2,262

3,546

1937-38

57,394

1,437

2,566

4,003

 

 

PRICES. – COST OF LIVING AND WAGES. – Changes in the level of wholesale prices and in the cost of living (1928=100) have been as follows:

 

 

 

Wholesale:

1929

1935

1937

1938 (Dec.)

General index

95.4

68.2

89.1

96.4

Raw materials

95.3

65.6

89.5

91.7

Semi-finished goods

97.5

74.9

101.3

111.7

Finished products

94.4

68.3

84.0

96.1

Retail:

Home produced

105.5

67.3

86.3

95.4

Imported

105.6

73.0

102.7

106.6

Exported

108.1

55.8

81.7

84.8

Cost of Living

101.1

77.5

91.7

99.12*

 

* Yearly average.

 

 

Prices now appear to have come back to about the 1929 level. Devalua­tion was only one among many influences which helped to reverse the trend of prices. Export prices, which suffered most during the crisis, are also slower to recover ground, in comparison with 1929. The cost of living is almost back to the 1929 level; in December, 1938, the index number was 99.97. The wages index has gone from 84.3 in 1935 to 100.5 in 1937; but there are no later data. In October, 1938, the number of persons in em­ployment was 43 per cent, higher than the 1934 figure.

 

 

MONEY MARKET AND STOCK EXCHANGE. – The year showed a feature­less money market. The official rate was unchanged at 4.50 per cent.; private rates for commercial paper between 5 and 5.50; and monthly settle­ments were carried over at 4 to 5.75 per cent. On the Stock Exchange, share-values, which had closed in 1937 at 48.8 (1924=100) after a bottom at the end of 1935 of 35.3, rose to 50 at the end of February, 1938, and then hovered around 48, closing finally at 46-47. Saving and current ac­count deposits increased from 74,627 million lire at the end of 1936 to 79,575 at the end of 1937 and to 82,408 millions at the end of September, 1938. The number and capitalisation of Italian joint-stock companies chan­ged from 20,018 companies at the end of 1937 to 20,660 at the end of No­vember, 1938, and their capital progressed from 47,695 to 52,807 million lire. The increase was mostly in paper transactions from reserve to capital account. Failures are fast diminishing:

 

 

 

 

Ordinary Failures

Small Failures

 

Number

Liabilities

Number

Liabilities

 

(Thousand Lire)

(Thousand Lire)

1933

 9,954

1,380

11,359

118

1934

 8,211

1,051

10,258

106

1935

 6,864

739

10,578

109

1936

 5,287

501

8,554

82

1937

 3,209

251

6,153

56

1938

 2,846

236

5,171

46

 

 

PUBLIC FINANCE. – No figures were published regarding the accounts after the Budget speech of May 18, 1938. The total deficit (ordinary and extraordinary expenditure included) was 2,030 million lire for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1935; 12,685 millions for 1935-36; 16,230 millions for 1936-37. For 1937-38 the deficit was preliminarily estimated at 12,173 millions, but owing to a high yield from the new tax on joint-stock companies, the Minister of Finance hoped that the deficit would be kept under the 12,000 millions level. For the current fiscal year a surplus of 37 millions, and for the year 1939-40 a deficit of 4,755 millions, were ori­ginally estimated; but these figures are largely a guess, since they do not include unforeseen extraordinary expenditure. Following the two 5 and 10 per cent, extraordinary taxes on land and real estate capital and on joint-stock companies, a third extraordinary tax of 7 1/2 per cent, was ap­plied to the capital of private companies and concerns.

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