chapter  5
‘Transforming Italy’: how successful were Fascist economic and social policies?
Pages 17

Economics was not Mussolini’s strong point and he did not have any clear views on the subject when he came to power. He devised economic policies as he went along, sometimes in response to pressure groups such as landowners and industrialists, more often for prestige, ideological or foreign policy reasons. From 1922 to 1925 he was content to allow his Minister of Finance, De Stefani, to follow the orthodox policies pursued by previous governments. De Stefani, a supporter of free trade, set out to cut the budget deficit by reducing state expenditure and restoring private ownership of utilities. Prosperity increased, thanks to the post-war economic boom and the phasing out of war debts. By the mid-1920s, industrial production had passed its wartime peak1 and exports had doubled though this was accompanied by inflation and a balance of trade deficit.