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Conservatives Versus WildcatsA Sociology of Financial Conflict$
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Simone Polillo

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780804785099

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804785099.001.0001

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Italian elites and the Centralization of Creditworthiness

Italian elites and the Centralization of Creditworthiness

(p.146) 5 Italian elites and the Centralization of Creditworthiness
Conservatives Versus Wildcats

Simone Polillo

Stanford University Press

This chapter looks at the political foundations of creditworthiness in the case of 19th century Italy. Here, just like in the United States, economic and political communities commanded strong, local loyalties; however, the political authorities that administered them were infrastructurally weak, and their lack of administrative capacity impaired the regional elites’ ability to enforce law, stability and order on the territories they governed. The chapter discusses the positions of elite political movements that, with such administrative concerns in mind, debated whether Italy’s financial structure should be centralized, or decentralized, with the right to issue money distributed among several institutions, or, in the argument of certain liberals, rendered completely free (mimicking the US model). Given the lack of strong, legitimate local institutions, the Italian central state was eventually forced to play a directive role in the national financial system.

Keywords:   Italian political history, centralization, infrastructural power, elite conflict, local authority, structure of financial system, central government

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