The Italian Financial System Remodelled by Pierluigi Ciocca (auth.)

By Pierluigi Ciocca (auth.)

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Households and firms stand to reap substantial efficiency gains by making more intensive and rational use of the services the financial industry offers. Managed assets Managed portfolios and institutional investors have grown remarkably since the beginning of the 1980s, when the share of Italian households’ financial assets entrusted to others for management was negligible. They have contributed significantly to the strengthening of the money and securities markets. As in other countries, the asset management industry has developed to serve the needs of savers as their stock of financial wealth has increased, the scope for diversification has broadened even for small portfolios and the volume of trading has expanded, in a setting of volatile, 20 The Italian Financial System Remodelled technically complex markets.

For the fourth time since Italian unification – following the peaks of 1897, 1920 and 1943 – in 1994 the public debt rose above the threshold of 120 per cent of GDP, before turning downwards. The effective exchange rate of the lira weakened by 15 per cent in the summer of 1992 and by 10 per cent in the spring of 1995; it then strengthened by 10 per cent, up to the lira’s re-entry to the EMS in November 1996, which was followed by the irrevocable locking of exchange rates in Europe, the advent of the euro in 1999 and the phasing out of the lira.

Demand for advanced financial services supplied not only by Italian merchant banks and venture capitalists, but also by their more experienced foreign counterparts, remains limited. 7 trillion lire a year; in 1999, under the new legislation on tender offers, the number of offers rose to 24 and acceptances soared to 107 trillion lire in connection with the bid for Telecom Italia. Corresponding to the changes in flows are those in stocks (though these are also influenced by the rules for valuing shares), with a reduction in the share of debt in the liabilities of non-financial firms in Italy, France and Germany.

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