Progetti di ricerca

DWNS - Dealing With the Neoliberal Storm: Italy, the Global Monetarist Shift, and the European Integration Process (1979-1992)

Supporting Talent in ReSearch@University of Padova Programma STARS 2019

Ambito disciplinare Macroarea 3

Area scientifica Area 16 - Scienze politiche e sociali

Tipologia finanziamento PROGETTI DI RICERCA DI ATENEO (Finanziamenti di Ateneo)

Tipo di progetto Internazionale

Stato progetto Concluso (archiviato)

Data avvio: 1 February 2020

Data termine: 30 April 2022

Durata: 27 mesi

Importo: 83.000€

Principal investigator:

Roberto Ventresca


This research project explores the impact of the global neoliberal turn on Italy’s economic policies between the late 1970s and the early 1990s. In so doing, this study takes into consideration to what extent Italy reshaped its own economic policies in the wake of the free-market oriented and restrictive monetary policies – the so called “monetarist shift” – that emerged both in the US and Western Europe during the ‘long 1980s’. Throughout the analytic process, the economic, political and social dimension of the Italy’s anti-inflationary commitment will be fully considered. As far as Italy’s main economic and political decisionmakers are concerned, I am going to take into account the following actors: the Bank of Italy, the Ministry of Treasury, the Ministry of Finance, as well as the Premiership. By paying specific attention to the spread of free-market oriented and anti-inflationary policies in the European Economic Community area (EEC) as well as to Italy’s participation in the European integration process, the research project investigates to what extent the economic and monetary rules that the EEC envisaged between the establishment of the European Monetary System (1979) and the negotiations for the Maastricht Treaty (1992) contributed to the remodelling of the political and social goals of Italy’s internal economic policies.


The main research goal is to analyze a number of case-studies regarding Italy’s economic choices during the 1980s. In particular, this research will carry out a thorough historiographic analysis of Italy’s anti-inflationary commitment within the wider context of both the spread of international monetarist-oriented policies and Rome’s participation in the 1980s’ European integration process. Consequently, the project will assess whether and to what extent Italy constituted a suited ‘laboratory’ for the implementation of neoliberal-oriented policies by the means of anti-inflationary and monetarist-oriented economic policy measures, laws, and institutional agreements. In this respect, it is worth highlighting the main historiographic questions from which this research project originates. Firstly, how did the neoliberal and monetarist turn impact on Italy’s policies during the 1980s? Secondly, which were the political, intellectual, and economic channels of anti-inflationary and monetarist policies implementation? Thirdly, to what extent did Italy’s participation in the European integration process influence its internal economic and social goals towards a monetarist-oriented model? And, finally, to what extent can Italy be considered a truly international testing ground of neoliberal and monetarist policy diffusion? The case-studies which I will focus on represent three momentous turning points in Italy’s economic policy choices during the 1980s, such as the “divorce” between the Central Bank and the Treasury in July 1981; the case of the cut in the ‘sliding wage scale’ in 1984-85; finally, Italy's participation in the negotiations for the Maastricht Treaty (1992)



My STARS project demonstrates how Italy proved to be a relevant case-study for the challenged implementation of stability-oriented policies after the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, the emergence of stagflation in both the US and Western Europe, and the rise of the neoliberal turn. My project contributes to the scholarly understanding of, first, how the gradual establishment of a contested post-Keynesian settlement took place in Western Europe through the lens of Italy’s economic, monetary and social policies between the mid-1970s to the early 1990s. Second, it offers new historiographic insights on the relationship between the process of European integration, the emergence of neoliberalism, and the implementation of market-led policies in one of the largest countries within the European Community. Third, it rethinks the features of the 1970s-1980s’ Italy’s economic and social policies from the point of view of the transnational circulation of anti-inflationary and market-oriented prescriptions, which finally led to the long-term reconfiguration of the country’s policy goals in parallel with the transformations that took place within the EEC at that time, that is, the establishment of the European Monetary System (1978-79), the Single European Act (1986-87), and the signing of the Maastricht Treaty (1992).
The main research outputs and project-related publications are: 'Neoliberal thinkers and European integration in the 1980s and the early 1990s’, "Contemporary European History", n. 31, 1 (2022); 31-47; 'Anti-inflationary Commitment in the Post-Bretton Woods Era. Italy’s road to stability-oriented monetary policies (1975-1981)', "Journal of Contemporary History", 2022, pp. 1-23; the international workshop Italy in the ‘long 1980s’: Neoliberalism, International Economic Relations and European Integration (Padua, 16 December 2021); and a book project: “Building up a New Market Regime: Italy, Neoliberalism, and European Integration (1979-1992)”.