The Inter-War Period

The Inter-War Period, Italy Economic

In the period between World War I and World War II, and especially after the crisis of 1930, there developed in Italy as in most European countries a growing interest in collectivist schemes. Communism grew, and was opposed by Fascism, or the theory of the corporate state. It is reasonably clear that most of the leading Italian economists were opposed to both. But some, and particularly those of the Mathematical School, leaned toward the "corporative economics," and some younger men adopted it wholeheartedly. Amoroso in 1938 showed how the mathematical general-equilibrium theory may serve any ends desired in a managed economy. Others tried to fit business planning into nationalist plans. There was some tendency to accept an economics of war, national self-sufficiency, and to attack the gold standard. Still others defended "corporativism," and developed the economics of imperfect competition. G. Capodaglio gives a list of those in the current of Italian "corporative economics."

On the other hand, the Liberal and Neo-Classical economists, including the adherents of the Austrian School, found themselves in a difficult position. Some were driven out, as Ricci from Rome. Some were silenced, and by 1943 the leading Italian economic journals were suppressed by the totalitarian state. But some economists merely sought to limit the scope of their studies or writing so as not to conflict with the corporate state's policies. Thus they made economic theory very general, keeping it apart from ethics and politics, or treating it in its special and technical aspects.