Piero Sraffa (1898-1983), was born in Turin where he graduated in 1920 under the supervision of Luigi Einaudi with a thesis on “Monetary Inflation in Italy During and After the War”. He taught in Perugia from 1923 before becoming professor in Cagliari in 1926. In 1927, upon Keynes’ invitation, he moved to Cambridge. There, he gave lectures for three years and the became Research Director and Librarian at Marshal Library, and fellow of the Trinity College. He was a friend of Antonio Gramsci and of Ludwig Wittgenstein whom he influenced profoundly. He authored fundamental articles criticizing the Marshallian theory of the firm, and he edited the critical edition of the works and correspondence of David Riccardo (for which he received the gold medal of the Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1961), and he authored “Production of Commodities by means of Commodities” (1960) which still constitutes a fundamental contribution to the classical theory of value and radical critique of the Marginalist theory.
Paolo Sylos Labini (1920-2005), after graduating went on to study at Harvard, under the guidance of Schupeter, and then Cambridge, under Denis Robertson. He later taught in Sassari, Catania, Bologna, and Rome (from 1963 on). He developed an innovative theory of oligopoly based on the notion of barriers to entry (in “Oligopoly and Technical Progress”, 1956), collaborated on the elaboration of Italian economic policy (eg. writing “Ideas on Planning” with Fuà in 1963), and with “An Essay on the Social Classes” (1974) stimulated a radical rethinking of social analysis and political strategy, underlining the role of the middle class. Among his many works, translated in numerous languages, “The Forces of Growth and Decline” (1984) is noteworthy. He collaborated with newspapers and journals with provocative and lively articles, and actively took part in the Italian political debate (eg. with “A Limited Civility Country”, 2001; “Ahi serva Italia”, 2006). His major works are freely available at www.syloslabini.info.
Franco Modigliani (1918-2003), due to Italy’s discriminatory racial laws, emigrated to the United States of America in 1939; From 1960 he was professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 1985 “for his pioneering analyses of saving and of financial markets”. His famous article “Liquidity Preference and the Theory of Interest and Money” (1944) lays down the foundations of the so-called neoclassical synthesis, proposing a synthesis of the Keynesian and the Marginalist theories. He developed an original theory of savings, the so-called “life cycle theory”. With his disciple Miller, he laid down the basis for a new research stream in the theory of finance. He collaborated on the construction of the Bank of Italy’s econometric model and intervened with relevant contributions in the Italian economic policy debate. Generations of economists from all over the world studied under his guidance.
Giorgio Fuà (1919-2000), born in Ancona, studied at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa before emigrating to Switzerland due to the discriminatory racial laws in place in Italy at the time. He later worked with Adriano Olivetti, and then in Geneva as a consultant for the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Europe, headed by Gunnar Myrdal, then from 1955 at ENI as an economic consultant of Enrico Mattei. In 1959 in Ancona he founded a faculty of economics that later in 1969 became the basis of the New University of Ancona. Here, he taught with several economists until 1997. In 1967 he found, again in Ancona, the ISTAO (Adriano Olivetti Institute of Studies for Corporate and Economic Management), one of the first post-graduate schools specializing in economists working within firms and managers. He co-authored a famous econometric model of the Italian economy (the “Modellaccio”) and authored several works in applied economics and economic theory. Between 1983 and 1986 he was president of the Italian Economic Association (SIE) which he re-organized and provided with permanent headquarters in Ancona.
Luigi Einaudi (1874-1961), born in Piemonte, was a world-famous economist, but also a great journalist and statesman. He taught public finance at the University of Turin and was author of several works in which he developed and defended a liberal concept of the economy. He was Senator of the Kingdom from 1919, and became Governor of the Bank of Italy in January, 1945, and in 1946 was a representative at the national assembly which drafted the constitution of the Italian Republic. From 1947 he was Vice-president of the Italian government and Secretary of the Treasury and Finance, and later of the Budget. He was Vice-president of the National Academy of Lincei; in 1948 he was elected as the second President of the Italian Republic. He was Honorary President of the SIE from its foundation in 1951 to his death.
Ezio Tarantelli (1941-1985), graduated in Rome before studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the guidance of Modigliani. He worked at the research department at the Bank of Italy from 1966 to 1973 before going on to teach at the Catholic University of Milan, then in Florence and Rome. He authored several works in labour economics and he coupled his research and teaching activities with lively involvement in the economic policy debate as an economic consultant of CISL (a major Trade union) and as an author of several editorials for “La Repubblica”. His proposal of the predetermination of the indexing of wages to prices and of reforming the labour market, widely shared among the leftist political sphere and trade unions, was the infamous pretext of his killing by the Red Brigade on March 27th, 1985.