From Rags to Riches back to Rags? The Slow Economic Decline of a Successful Nation: Italy 1950–2013
In this paper we present the current crisis of the Italian economy as a phase of a major systemic decline. The social political system has led to a framework that has violated the fundamentals of sustained economic growth. An unhealthy implicit contract between the social-political elites and the civil society has imposed a “static” view of comparative advantage. The indispensable sectoral restructuring of the economy has not taken place, leading to stagnation. Defenceless positions have often been hiding the structural problem behind the screen of Italian exceptionalism. We stress that a growth strategy, though it has to be country and context specific, it cannot violate fundamentals. We suggest that Italy must take on again, as quickly as possible, a “dynamic” view of comparative advantage. That would entail a dramatic shift in its economic-political-social structure and it would be necessarily painful at different levels. However, this is the only route Italy could follow to stay on course for sustained economic growth.
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