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The fruits of disaggregation: the general engineering industry in Italy, 1861-1913


  • Stefano Fenoaltea


In post-Unification Italy the cyclical movements of the economy largely reflected those in the production of durable goods. The engineering industry has been seen as one that transformed metal into machines: its metal consumption suggests that investment in machinery followed the Kuznets-cycle long swing, as construction did, that domestic production ever dominated the domestic market, and that changes in protection didn't matter. New, disaggregated timeseries estimates force a radical revision of these long-held views. Far more metal was turned into (ever-protected) hardware than into machines: the long cycle in aggregate "engineering" was not so much parallel to, as simply part of, the cycle in construction. Investment in machinery grew altogether more steadily than investment in infrastructure, with more numerous but far more modest cycles (and a heretofore unrecognized peak in 1907). All the extant interpretations of Italy's industrial progress in the period at hand turn on the nonexistent long swing in industrial investment, and they all collapse together. The domestic production of machinery, initially very small, reacted strongly to increases in net protection: the conventional view of the impact of the tariff is also to be jettisoned.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefano Fenoaltea, 2014. "The fruits of disaggregation: the general engineering industry in Italy, 1861-1913," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 358, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  • Handle: RePEc:cca:wpaper:358

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    Cited by:

    1. Fenoaltea, Stefano, 2015. "The measurement of production movements: Lessons from the general engineering industry in Italy, 1861–1913," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 19-37.
    2. Stefano Fenoaltea, 2014. "The measurement of production movements: lessons from the engineering industry in Italy, 1861-1913," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 400, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    3. Stefano Fenoaltea, 2015. "Italian Industrial Production, 1861-1913: A Statistical Reconstruction. A. Introduction," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 412, Collegio Carlo Alberto.

    More about this item


    method; engineering; Italy;

    JEL classification:

    • E01 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N63 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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