Luigi Federico Signorini: Opening speech - 17th Meeting of the Ottawa Group

Opening speech by Mr Luigi Federico Signorini, Senior Deputy Governor of the Bank of Italy and President of the Insurance Supervisory Authority (IVASS), at the 17th Meeting of the Ottawa Group, Rome, 7 June 2022. 

The views expressed in this speech are those of the speaker and not the view of the BIS.

Central bank speech  | 
09 June 2022

It is my privilege to welcome you to the 17th Meeting of the Ottawa Group, jointly organised by the Banca d'Italia and Istat. As you know, the meeting should have taken place two years ago. However, the health emergency hit just before the scheduled date and we had to change our plans. I am very pleased that we are now here together and ready for a fresh start.

The issues that will be discussed during the next few days are, of course, the centre of attention of consumer price experts and central bankers. Many of these issues, however, are also of great interest to the public at large, such as how to account for new consumption trends; how to handle (and benefit from) digitalisation; how to develop more comprehensive measures of the cost of living, especially ones encompassing housing costs. This, I think, makes your work particularly valuable.

Prices and the pandemic

Much more than economics and statistics, of course, have changed because of the Covid-19 pandemic: our health and that of our loved ones, our housing needs, our way of working, our consumption patterns, our social relationships. All of these, however, have had significant repercussions for the work done by economists and statisticians. Economic policy makers have had to change the way they approach, and perhaps even the way they think about, economic facts; the full impact will only become clear over time.
Certain features of the recession triggered by the health emergency were in fact unprecedented. We had never experienced such a sharp economic downturn in peacetime, and, moreover, one that was due entirely to a mandated lockdown (plus further limitations to mobility due to people's subjective fear of infection). Well, almost entirely, to be sure: but the traditional factors (expectations, demand, real interest rates), the ones that usually drive econometric models, played only a minor role this time.