The Bank of Italy

Background information

La sede della Banca d'ItaliaThe Bank of Italy is possibly the most powerful central bank among European banking regulators as it centralized different competencies which in other countries are scattered over diverse authorities both at national and Union level. It can force banks to increase their capital, veto stakebuildings exceeding certain limits, bar merger and acquisitions through its “moral suasion”, decide whether a certain bank should be an aggregator or that its destiny is of being aggregated. In recent times it also took over the regulatory powers on the insurance industry as the former watchdog Isvap failed to be though enough and was dismantled. Not enough, the Bank governor Visco at a banking meeting early in 2013 asked for even more powers, included that of removing bank executives who do not behave properly. In Germany, for instance, banking supervision is split in two bodies, Bundesbank and Bafin, whose cumulative powers don’t even match those of Bank of Italy, while in Britain the Financial Services Authority regulates all the industry providers while the Bank of England retains responsibility for systemic risk only. The Bank of Italy was the true control room where the consolidation of Italy’s banks which followed the industry reform in the early Nineties of last century was designed. Intesa and Unicredit, the two pillars of Italy existing banking system resulted from the merge of dozens of banks over years, are both Bank of Italy’s babies. And even at very local level it is the Bank of Italy again which provides “guidance” on who has or as not to merge with whom. Recent Italian history shows how an important institution the central bank is. When in 1992 Italy and Britain were forced to a humiliating expulsion from the European Monetary System and the country entered its worst financial crisis since WWII the then governor Carlo Azeglio Ciampi took over the Prime Minister office. He subsequently served as Treasury minister just to become president of the Republic a few years later. When Berlusconi won his first general elections in 1994 he called to head the Treasury the then Bank of Italy director general Dini, who eventually succeeded him as PM. Nowadays, the most prominent Italian in Europe is the ECB chairman Draghi, a former governor too. Italy created a variety of financial and economic regulators in the last 20 years or so, as a consequence of the opening of the markets began late in the Eighties of last century. But the Bank of Italy stands by far and large as the most authoritative, respected and awe-inspiring body among them. The Bank general meeting held each year on the last day of May excluding the weekends, where the governor addresses the country’s business community and Rome government ministers are not admitted, is nicknamed by financial writers the “Chanted Mass”, as only the Pope’s officiation in Saint Peter matches its solemnity.

3 thoughts on “The Bank of Italy

  1. Pingback: Debt, a deep rooted Italian malaise |

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  3. Pingback: To be or not to be a co-operative bank | italypr

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