Italy, Germany, Japan: From Economic Miracles to Virtual Stagnation
Over the last six decades, economic developments in the three countries that were defeated in World War II look strikingly similar. First came rapid reconstruction. Then followed the economic miracles of the Golden Age. The years that went from the first oil shock to the mid-1990s still saw fairly robust, and relatively similar, economic developments. Finally, during the last 15 years, the three countries held the dubious record of having the lowest output growth rates in the OECD area. The paper looks primarily at Italy, using the examples of Germany and Japan to search for parallels and contrasts. Among similarities, the main one lies in overall macroeconomic trends. The main differences are in economic policies (where Germany and Japan followed a much more orthodox stance than Italy), in institutional set-ups (with Italy much less efficient than Germany and Japan), in labour market relations (with much greater conflict in Italy than in the other two countries), and in regional developments (where Italy was handicapped by the presence of the Mezzogiorno, while Germany and Japan were hardly touched by regional differentials, at least until unification in Germany. Indeed, had Italy's government institutions, labour market relations and regional differentials been less problematic, Italy's growth performance might well have been superior to that of both Germany and Japan.
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