Ignazio Visco: Economic growth and productivity - Italy and the role of knowledge

Speech by Mr Ignazio Visco, Governor of the Bank of Italy, at the EuroScience Open Forum 2020, Trieste 4 September 2020.

Central bank speech  | 
08 September 2020
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  1. I would like to thank Professor Stefano Fantoni for his kind invitation and the conference organisers for their determination in setting up this event during these very difficult times. In this presentation, I will focus on the well-known role of human capital and innovation as determinants of economic growth and consider how crucial delays in the field of knowledge may have translated, in Italy, into the slow growth of gross domestic product (GDP) that we have observed in the last  30 years or so.
  2. There is no need to emphasise how serious the public health emergency caused by the rapid spread of the new coronavirus all over the world has become. Over 25 million of people are estimated to have been affected and close to one million have lost their lives. Italy was the first western country in which the epidemic took hold, in early 2020. The toll has been very high, with more than 250 thousand people affected and 35 thousand deaths.
  3. The drastic measures adopted to contain the propagation of the virus - which have included the limitation of people's movements and social interaction, the suspension of teaching in schools and universities, and the temporary closure of many productive activities - have hit the Italian economy profoundly. As the latest figures suggest, by mid-2020, GDP had returned to the level observed in early 1993 (slide 1 in the accompanying presentation). In per capita terms, GDP dropped down to values recorded in the late 1980s.