To what extent were Mussolini's economic policies successful in the years 1922-40?

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To what extent were Mussolini's economic policies successful in the years 1922-40? 

Upon his rise to power Mussolini proclaimed that Italy would finally be made ‘great’ by the power of fascism, enacting numerous policies such the ‘Battle of the Marshes’ in an attempt to improve Italy’s industry, agriculture, the economic situation in monetary and employment terms, as well as creating new transport/trade links to bolster Italy’s overall economy.   These policies were often minor successes, such as the Battle for Grain which did push Italy towards some self-sufficiency required for the fascist war economy. Realistically however, Italy’s financial and state of resources ensured that Mussolini’s economic policies in these key sectors remained a general failure.

One key sector which Mussolini targeted was the Italian industry, one of Mussolini’s biggest successes. Situated mainly in northern Italy, the industry played a large role in bolstering the Italian economy; initially this was presented a success. The Mussolini government took a relatively laissez-faire approach, with limited corporation taxes in order to encourage growth of larger firms. This presented one of Mussolini’s biggest successes; he had taken power as Italy was in the midst of the ‘economic miracle’, and despite limited resources this approach spurred growth of new industries such as the industries in chemicals, synthetic fibres as well as the important electricity supply, which was vital for continued industrial growth. 1925 saw the official legislation outlawing trade unions, which was met with much support by industrialists and factory owners alike; banning trade unions ensured an incentive for corporations to continue to grow. With the worldwide economic downturn beginning in 1929, Mussolini’s government responded by creating the IRI (Institute for Industrial Reconstruction) which saw greater government intervention, taking over shares in industries held by failing banks in an attempt to reorganise the failing industries. This was another major success, with the IRI eventually authorised to take over failing private industries and eventually being responsible for 90% of Italy’s ship building industry by 1939. However, the success of industrial policies was limited by Italy’s pre-existing state of economy; growth remained limited especially when compared to other European nations, one example being that Germany’s 1940 pig iron output at 50 million tonnes far exceeded Italy’s output of less than 5 million tonnes. The depression also eventually forced large wage cuts, and the outlawing of trade unions helped little with worker morale. Overall, the industrial sector presents one of Mussolini’s biggest successes in economic policy, only hampered by the worldwide depression; Mussolini did have numerous successes especially when compared to the prior weak economic state of Italy.

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Agriculture remained another key aspect of Italy’s economy, and became increasingly important as Mussolini enacted the policy of autarky, self-sufficiency for the war effort.  Initially, like the industrial policies this was a minor success, with the north increasing wheat yields by 50% more wheat per acre of land. The policy of autarky within the agricultural sector seemed to be heading towards a success, with Italy becoming almost entirely self-sufficient in cereal stocks by 1940; wheat imports fell by 75% in the years 1925-35, and to encourage consumption of Italian produce tariffs were levied on imported grain from 1926 onwards. Further ...

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