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The evolution of the institutional structure of the Banca d'Italia and its monetary constitution
The paper sets out to demonstrate the close link which exists between the decisions made by the Banca d'Italia over the last fifteen years, in terms of the objectives and devices of its monetary policy, and the institutional characteristics of its structure, with special reference to the evolution of its relations with the Treasury and the banking system. A theoretical pattern of interpretation is identified based on the distinction between a 'Treasury-oriented' structure and a 'Central Bank-oriented' structure, and three periods are singled out against the background of reforms in the position of the Banca d'Italia with respect to ways of financing public requirements: (1) the monetary consent phase (1969-1974); (2) the phase of growing conflict between Banca d'Italia and Treasury (1975-1980); (3) the phase of apparent autonomy for the Banca d'Italia (1981-1986) after the so-called 'divorce' from the Treasury. Given the unresolved problems of public finance and the profound changes which have taken place in banking and financial markets, an attempt is made to highlight how 'divorce' might be the first of three hypothetical steps towards the reinforcement of the Bank's institutional influence with consequent: 'apparent' autonomy; 'partial' autonomy; 'effective' autonomy ratified by the definition of a monetary constitution. Such steps would be likely to bring about an improvement not only in the pursuit of the desired objectives of monetary policy – in terms of size and of rates – but also in the process of their definition.