Sound corporate governance is essential for a well-functioning banking system and the integrity of financial markets. This column discusses the corporate governance of Italian banks, its regulatory framework, and the specific challenges arising from the role played by foundations and large cooperatives. Although Italian banks have recently made progress in improving their corporate governance, more needs to be done.
Nadege Jassaud, Thursday, October 30, 2014
Stefano DellaVigna, Ruben Durante, Brian Knight, Eliana La Ferrara, Sunday, March 9, 2014
Firms hoping for regulatory favours may direct their business purchases towards firms controlled by politicians, who benefit from the additional revenue. This column provides evidence from Italy consistent with this channel. It shows that the share of advertising on Berlusconi’s televisions increased while he was in power, and this even more so in the most regulated industries.
Giulia Bettin, Andrea F Presbitero, Nikola Spatafora, Monday, February 10, 2014
Remittances are one of the most important financial flows to developing countries – more than three times the level of official development assistance. This column presents recent research on remittance flows from Italy. Their limited volatility and countercyclical behaviour with respect to macroeconomic conditions in the recipient country help mitigate developing countries’ vulnerability to external shocks. Better access to financial services for migrants can foster remittance flows.
Fadi Hassan, Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, Saturday, November 30, 2013
The long-lasting stagnation in Italy has often been explained by the country’s lost of competitiveness, but focus on total factor productivity has been scarce. This column discusses the effect of capital and labour misallocation on the productivity slowdown. Such misallocation could not result from labour rigidity, but could be due to limited ICT investment and penetration. Rigid non-meritocratic management practices can greatly affect ICT exploitation, and subsequently – overall productivity growth.
Aerdt Houben, Jan Kakes, Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Financial cycles have increasingly diverged across members of the Eurozone. National macroprudential tools are thus key to managing financial imbalances and protecting Europe’s economic integration. This column discusses research suggesting that reasonable macroprudential policies by the GIIPS countries in the euro’s first decade would have helped avoid much pain in Italy, Portugal and Spain. Greece’s public debt problems were far too large and its banks could not have been shielded with macroprudential policies.
Claire Giordano, Francesco Zollino, Thursday, July 18, 2013
Since the mid-2000s competitiveness indicators for Italy have been providing conflicting signals. This column argues that producer prices and labour costs have actually moved hand in hand since 1992, and that the rise in the real effective exchange rate based on labour costs can be attributed to price-cost divergences in its main trading partners. Due to the internationalisation of production processes and fading share of labour in overall costs, price-based indicators may be more appropriate to assess external competitiveness.
Paolo Manasse, Wednesday, June 19, 2013
It’s currently very trendy in Italy to blame Angela Merkel, Mario Monti, and austerity measures for the current recession. This column argues that while the severity of the downturn is clearly a cyclical phenomenon, the inability of the country to grow out of it is the legacy of more than a decade of a lack of reforms in credit, product and labour markets. This lack of reform has suffocated innovation and productivity growth, resulting in wage dynamics that are completely decoupled from labour productivity and demand conditions.
Edda Zoli, Saturday, June 15, 2013
What has driven Italian sovereign spreads movements? This column presents new research looking into increased volatility in sovereign debt since the summer of 2011. Shocks in investor risk appetite, news related to the Eurozone debt crisis, and consistently bad news in Italy, have been important drivers of Italian sovereign spreads. These findings mean that we need to reduce country-specific vulnerabilities as well as sorting out the Eurozone.
Giovanni D'Alessio, Romina Gambacorta, Giuseppe Ilardi, Friday, May 24, 2013
The ECB’s recent survey on household finances and consumption threw up some unexpected results – counter-intuitively, the average German household has less wealth than the average Mediterranean household. In line with a recent VoxEU.org contribution from De Grauwe and Ji, this article analyses the principal differences in wealth and income between the main Eurozone countries.
Graziella Bertocchi, Monica Bozzano, Friday, March 29, 2013
To what extent can historical and cultural factors explain the reversal of the gender gap? Using a new comprehensive dataset from Italy, this column explores the long-term determinants of the education gender gap. The evidence suggests that cultural values can persist for centuries, but that there have also been critical evolutionary turning points on the road towards equality.
Maurizio Bovi, Wednesday, March 20, 2013
How do everyday Italians feel about their economic prospects? How are political reactions related to economic events? This column presents evidence suggesting that Italians are becoming disillusioned. Comparing Berlusconi's and Monti’s resignation, sentiment was more positive after Belusconi's. Rather than a test on Italian citizens’ realism or on their views on austerity, recent political elections should instead be read as a test of voters’ utter disaffection with political institutions.
Paolo Manasse, Giulio Trigilia, Luca Zavalloni, Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Who saved Italy? This column argues that the crisis began with Silvio Berlusconi and ended with Mario Monti. Evidence suggests that restoring a sense of credibility to Italian policymaking was difficult to earn but may be very easy to lose (as the recent run on Italian debt suggests). New and old Italian politicians cannot afford to underestimate the formidable challenge ahead: getting Italy out of this depression without jeopardising its credibility.
Massimo Anelli, Giovanni Peri, Saturday, February 23, 2013
What causes fewer women than men to choose high-earning potential subjects such as engineering, economics or science at undergraduate level? This column presents new evidence from an accidental natural experiment in Italy, suggesting mixed-gender classes at the high-school level reduce the number of women pursuing these subjects. These results suggest that gender-separated classrooms are an effective way to increase women’s career opportunities and salaries.
Francesco D'Acunto, Gaia Narciso, Sunday, February 3, 2013
How much does media bias affect electoral outcomes? This column examines the Italian case, where Berlusconi, the prime minister, has controlled six out of seven national channels for ten years. It exploits exogenous variation in viewers' exposure to Berlusconi using random switchovers from analogue to digital TV that increased free national channels tenfold. It argues the switch has caused a drop in Berlusconi’s vote share by 5.5 to 7.5 percentage points.
William R. Cline, Thursday, August 30, 2012
Interest rates on Italian and Spanish bonds are back up to their 2011 levels, raising alarm bells across Europe. But this column argues that the media’s hard-held belief that neither Italy nor Spain can withstand interest rates of 7% is wrong.
Marco Annunziata, Tuesday, August 14, 2012
While markets have been cheered by recent ECB announcements on sovereign debt, some still question the Bank’s ability to save the euro. This column argues that the ECB is a lot stronger than many think. Linking ECB sovereign bond purchases to policy conditionality will ensure that reform efforts are sustained. The free lunch option has been ruled out – and that is a good thing.
Diego Puga, Daniel Trefler, Sunday, August 5, 2012
International trade can have profound effects on domestic institutions. This paper examines this proposition in the context of medieval Venice circa 800-1350, showing that increases in long-distance trade enriched a large group of merchants who used their new-found muscle to push for constraints on the executive.
Massimo Tavoni, Caterina Gennaioli, Thursday, July 12, 2012
Despite best intentions, government policies can sometimes provide politicians and others with an incentive to break the law. This column analyses the link between state support for renewable energy and corruption. It provides some evidence of this connection for the case of the tradable green certificate system, a policy introduced in Italy in 1999 to promote wind power.
Paolo Manasse, Monday, July 2, 2012
Just as with Italy’s football team, Mario Monti has been hailed for beating the Germans – in his case at the recent EU summit. But this column argues that, just as with the football, Italy’s victory over Germany may soon lead to disaster.
Uri Dadush, Zaahira Wyne, Friday, June 8, 2012
For many, the origin of the Eurozone crisis is a lack of competitiveness among the periphery countries. This column looks at Spain and Italy and argues that in order to emerge from crisis, they must rely less on domestic demand and more on their tradable sector.