Bankitalia, Visco quotes Keynes: “Today’s sacrifices are not an alibi to postpone reforms”


ROME – “We will do it starting from the strengths we sometimes forget; facing finally the weaknesses that sometimes we don’t want to see”. Hope and warning. Never as this time the governor of the Bank of Italy, in the final considerations at the time of the epidemic, is clear and lashing: “No rhetorical optimism” but a “concrete commitment”. A reference to the reality and sense of responsibility of the Italians and those who govern us.The situation described by the governor is serious: the word he speaks most frequently is “uncertainty”, the data he lists range from the contraction of our country’s GDP which is between 9 and 13 percent in the worst case scenario, to the growth of inequalities (with the Gini Index, which measures them, rose by 2 points during the crisis).
But there is also hope. It is based on what Visco calls the strengths. Export, competitiveness, household wealth, low private debt. Positive aspects that we must be able to use to “offer future generations concrete possibilities for progress in living standards, health conditions, levels of general culture”.But these strengths are only a precondition. We must hurry, presses Visco to “strengthen our economy” and make “reforms”. Also because – and here the theme of trust returns – there are aspects concerning the digitalization of our economy, which emerged during the hard months of the lockdown: such as the boom in online sales, smart working and payment with credit cards. “New opportunities”, Ignazio Visco calls them, which will be seized by the most efficient companies.

Today the emergency rather than financial seems to be that of the real economy and the effectiveness of economic policies. The subtle reference to John Maynard Keynes’ 1940 book, “How to Pay the Cost of War”, sounds like the seal of his message. Keynes says: for the post-war period it takes a plan “conceived in a spirit of social justice and on general sacrifices, which must not be a justification for postponing reforms, but an opportunity to proceed further towards reducing inequalities”.

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