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The Economist

Italy

«The Economist», 12 febbraio 1927, pp. 15-16

 

 

 

FOREIGN TRADE. – Excluding precious metals and reparations, figures for 1926 and previous years were as follows:

 

 

 

 

(In Millions of Lire)

 

 

Imports

Exports

Excess of Imports Over Exports

1909-13

3,419

2,212

1,207

1920

26,822

11,744

15,048

1921

16,926

8,279

8,747

1922

15,765

9,302

6,463

1923

17,189

11,086

6,103

1924

19,388

14,318

5,070

1925

26,173

18,276

7,897

1925 (Jan. to Nov.)

23,710

16,497

7,213

1926 ( ”        ” )

23,694

16,750

6,944

 

 

From 1922 onwards there was an interrupted increase in total and per capita volume of trade until 1926, when the figures became almost stationary. In the face of the convulsive movement of the lira (the official exchange of gold going from 478 per cent, in January to 586 in August and then back again to 436 in December) the steadiness of foreign trade is very remarkable. The adverse commercial balance for 1926 can be estimated at a somewhat lower level than in the preceding year.

 

 

CROPS. – Production was higher than the pre-war and post-war averages, though inferior to 1925:

 

 

(In Thousands of Tons)

 

Average 1909-13

Average 1916-25

1925

1926

Wheat

4,989.8

4,916.4

6,554.8

6,015.0

Maize

2,548.6

2,293.7

2,692.4

2,795.7

Rice

475.0

524.6

629.4

665.6

Grapes

7,096.6

6,263.9

7,143.4

5,974.9

Cocoons

40.8

35.2

40.6

41.3

Potatoes

1,645.8

1,745.7

2,187.7

2,311.0

Hemp

83.5

84.7

123.9

121.2

 

 

Grapes were an exception to the general rule owing to the ravages of the phylloxera and the time taken by the replanting of vines.

 

 

INDUSTRY. – Imports of coal increased in the first eleven months, from 7,833,975 tons in 1925 to 8,593,068 tons in 1926, in spite of the British strike. The consumption of electrical energy increased in the first nine months from 4,789 millions ettowatt-hours to 5,340 ettowatt-hours. Production of pig-iron, which progressed unchecked from 6,132.1 tons in 1921 to 48,179.9 in 1925, increased further to 48,833.9 in the first eleven months of 1926. Steel production, however, after rapidly rising from 70,043.3 tons in 1921 to 178,553.2 in 1925, reached only 149,368.4 tons in the first eleven months of 1926. Raw cotton imports (eleven months) decreased from 2,243,122 tons in 1925 to 2,196,000 tons in 1926; unwashed wool imports increased from 267,286 to 384,670 tons; washed wool from 40,619 to 50,223; raw jute decreased from 434,861 to 396,083. Artificial silk exports increased in the first eleven months from 7,950.8 tons to 10,088.8 tons. Goods carried by the State railways in the first six months were 32.5 million tons, against 31.1 millions in the corresponding period of 1925. The ships launched increased from 60,000 dead-weight tons in 1923 to 74,000 in 1924, 126,000 in 1925, and 125,426 in the first nine months of 1926. The number of unemployed reached a minimum of 79,678 in July and a maximum of 148,821 in November. The average monthly number of declared failures, which was 617 in 1913 and decreased rapidly during the war to a minimum of 47 in 1918, increased to 53 in 1920, 149 in 1921, 305 in 1922, 474 in 1923, 607 in 1924, 602 in 1925, and 655 in 1926. The revaluation of the lira does not seem, as yet, to have had any remarkable effect.

 

 

PRICES AND WAGES. – Various indices are shown. (See table at p. 400).

 

 

SAVINGS. – The increase in the cost of living is perhaps the principal cause of the stagnation of the deposits in the Postal Saving State Bank, which were 10,342.3 million lire at December 31, 1926, against 10,617.6 million at the end of 1925.

 

 

MONEY AND STOCKS. – The official rate of discount remained fixed at 7 per cent.; the prolongation rates for 5 per cent. Consols decreased from 7.50 per cent, in December, 1925, to 5.50 in July, 1926, increasing again to 6.50 in December; while the rate for industrial securities remained more or less fluctuating all the year round between 7 and 9 per cent., with a tendency for money to become more abundant toward the end of the year owing to the great decrease of Stock Exchange commitments. From a Stock Exchange point of view, the past year was bad. According to the Bachi index number (basis 1913=100) the general index number was 530.8 at the end of 1925. It fluctuated somewhat wildly between January and August, 1926, then sloping down uninterrupted and touching bottom at the end of December at 357.3.

 

 

Wholesale Prices

 

Bank and State

State Notes

Paper price of Gold

In Paper Lire

In Gold Lire

Purchaising Power of the Lira

Cost of living Basis 1914

Wages

1913

100

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.00

100

100

1922

729

409.0

529.3

129.4

18.84

488

512

1923

707

421.2

535.8

127.2

18.67

487

477

1924

737

443.4

553.5

124.8

18.08

512

480

1925

771

485.8

646.2

133.0

15.50

598

534

1926

717

500.7

654.4

131.4

15.29

654

571

 

 

Public Finance. – The surplus of 417.2 million lire in the fiscal year from July, 1924, to June, 1925, was followed by a new surplus of 2,268.4 million lire in the fiscal year 1925-26. Public internal debts, after having risen to 95.144 million lire at June 30, 1923, decreased steadily to 90.847 at June 30, 1925, and to 84.485 million lire at December 31, 1926.

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