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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Taxing, Borrowing, and Spending in Pre-Fascist Italy: does the history rhythm?

I was taking a walk during my lunch and listening to the audio excerpt from an awesome book by about public borrowing and spending in pre-Fascist Italy (basically up to 1925). The chapter covers the period of roughly 65 years between 1859 and 1925. Italian government budget was unbalanced for 46 years vs. 20 years of financial sanity.

The results were devastating: literally destroyed middle class, people leaving below the level of poverty, massive make-works to buy popular support, and eventually a "necessity" to go in the Great war... What foundation it laid for the late Italy we can witness as we speak: the latest Italian "achievement" is to become a part of PIIGS and to beg at German cross-roads for some pocket change.

This is a great insight into the economic environment the US was living in from early 30s to mid-40s by then a contemporary economic journalist and writer. His another great book about deficit spending and political use of public make-work by FDR is available here.

If history rhythms itself then I can't help to wonder if are we leaving through a deja-vu of a kind right now?

P.S. Now I am curious if the raise of Italian mafia and consequent export of it to say US was somehow ignited by general Italian populous impoverishment? Anecdotally, this was certainly a case when Russia in the 1990s was so full of racket and other sorts of hard-core criminals.

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