To What Extent Was Liberal Italy in Crisis by 1896 and Who or What Was Most to Blame?

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It is beyond doubt that Liberal Italy was deeply in crisis by 1896 and because of Francesco Crispi’s poor economic and social decisions he was to most blame.

The most important reason for Italy being in crisis was the economic problems it good into towards the end of the 19th Century. When Crispi came to power when the value of the Lire was rising against other world currencies; this made exporting goods from Italy much more expensive and made importing goods far cheaper. This hit the Italian cereal market especially hard as it became cheaper to import grain from the vast prairies of the US than transport grain from southern Italy to the north. This caused a small crisis in the South as their profits were hit hard. This was not Crispi’s fault as you cannot accuse one man for the US’s massive increase of wheat produced. But it was what Crispi did to “solve” this problem which lowered Italy deeper into crisis and that is why he is most to blame for Italy’s plight in 1896. Crispi’s choice to listen to the landowners and increase the tariff on imports was an easy option. It was meant to give the economy a respite but its effects were disastrous. The tariff increase angered the French, one of Italy’s main trading partners, and they raised their tariff against Italian imports. Italian exports to France slumped disastrously and companies and banks started to go bust. This small crisis of 1887 was just the start, but it begins to illustrate how much of a crisis Italy was in by 1896 and how much the actions of Francesco Crispi were to blame.

Another greatly important part of the crisis was the lack of trust/ belief in the government. Once again Crispi was to blame for this; his actions in the Banca Romana scandal nearly cost him his place in office and certainly lost him credibility in the eyes of ordinary Italians. The Banca Romana scandal was discovered on its collapse in 1893, the bank had been printing bank notes illegally. Approximately 60 million Lire was...
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