The Reasons of the Economy. Articles for the Osservatore Romano.

Publisher: Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Price: €14

Ettore Gotti Tedeschi – for many years a banker, business consultant and university professor – has been president of the IOR (Istituto Opere di Religione) ever since his appointment in 2009, but he has also been an active columnist on economic topics and issues for the Osservatore Romano. The  Libreria Editrice Vaticana has now published a collection of the editorials and articles he wrote from December 2007 to the end of 2011.

The title of this collection – “The Reasons of the Economy” – is intended to signify the effort to analyse reality in the columns of the Osservatore Romano from the viewpoint of economic sciences in dialogue with the Social Doctrine of the Church. In fact, the author’s evident aim is “to read” economic facts not in a moral sense, but rather from an economic standpoint coherent with the Church’s social Magisterium.

The topics and issues tackled quite obviously vary, and the chronological presentation of the material leaves no room for later reprocessing. Moreover, it is quite clear that the editorials were not written as essays for a later compendium of material, but rather as articles linked to a daily ‘requirement’ to take a close look at reality and read it. Nonetheless, when reading the texts as a whole it is possible to grasp a series of common features or elements that delineate some of the underlying features of the author’s train of thought.

  1. the financial and economic crisis – practically coinciding with the outset of Mr. Gotti Tedeschi’s collaboration with the Osservatore Romano – is quite obviously a recurrent subject, but without that form of seesaw emphasis (e.g. today extremely negative, and then suddenly optimistic) we are so used to when reading newspapers. Quite on the contrary, from the very beginning the author seems to have pinpointed some key elements of the problem. For example, in a December 2008 editorial enigmatically entitled “The Bubble that will save us”, he attributes core importance not to the issue of saving banks (then so topical), but rather to solidarity-based development. And then on 18 March 2009 he wrote about the need for trust as the intangible good necessary for the revival of the economy, which cannot benefit from ‘top down’ measures (forms of nationalization or forced salvages), but needs to be born anew ‘from within’. 
  2. the constant reference to the Social Doctrine of the Church, especially and at times explicitly to the Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate (as in the article “Even Machiavelli would agree with the Holy Father” ), often tinged with language, which, faithful to the mandate received from the director of the Osservatore Romano, is intended to be economics-speak; 
  3. attention to issues regarding the family as a factor of economic development. In July 2011 Mr. Gotto Tedeschi wrote the following words: “The leaders of the ‘mature’ countries must invest in the family and in children in order to generate rapid economic growth thanks to the activation of factors such as heightened demand, savings and investments”;
  4. deeply inbred confidence in the market as the system for the equitable regulation of the economy, albeit in need of ethical ‘purification’. Contrary to what was being sustained by other economists, including Catholic ones, the author does not seem to harbour doubts about the only possible system being the free market, albeit permeated with values that render growth both just and sustainable. Pungent is his criticism of those schools of thought – rather relevant during the initial phases of the crisis – that argue a massive return of the public hand in the economy by means of Keynesian type measures;
  5. the global dimension of looking upon the economy: growth related issues are never to be considered from a national or European standpoint, but are to be viewed from a global perspective, with a special gaze brought to bear on developing countries.

Coming to the surface from all this is the profile of clear thought, perhaps not always creditable in every detail (for example, confidence in the market), but ever consistent with the author’s position and the Social Doctrine of the Church, open and anti-conformist in tackling topics and subjects with a critical gaze never able to be aligned with the (dis)infomation that remains such a typical connotation of economic issues.


Giorgio Mion

Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, Le ragioni dell’economia. Scritti per l’Osservatore Romano. (The Reasons of the Economy. Articles for the Osservatore Romano), Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011, € 14,00