Meeting report
“Luigi Luzzatti and the development of cooperation in Italy and the world”

Luigi Luzzatti and the development of cooperation in Italy and the world

Time: 18 April 2016 – 17h30
Place: Chamber of Deputies, Rome

Organized by the Assoziazione Nazionale Fra le Banche Popolari, the conference entitled Luigi Luzzatti and the development of cooperation in Italy and the world was held as part of celebrations to mark the 140th anniversary of the founder of the cooperation movement in Italy, Luigi Luzzati (1841-1927).

Opening Remarks

Corrado Sforza Fogliani President of Assopopolari

Corrado Sforza Fogliani,
President of Assopopolari
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In the wake of the implementation of the Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM) as a response to the financial crisis, Corrado Sforza Fogliani addressed the meeting with the following statement [translation]:

“We have to wonder whether monetary policy is actually able to help us to overcome the critical moment that Europe is going through. We must consider that the policy of very low or negative interest rate is the origin of the crisis of 2007, as it does not lead to “starving the beast”, as they say in the United States, of public spending and reduce debt, which – as we learn from the experience of the historical Right – hindering private initiative.”

Subsequently, he also declared [translation]:

“The presence and proximity are again becoming fundamental features, and support to families, local communities and SMEs are making of the Cooperazione Bancaria (Banking Co-operation in English, ed) a key player of the global economic recovery. Resilience in these years of crisis, the ability to be present widely in the territories and to be declined in more compatible forms to different realities, are a resource for the future. Banche Popolari (union banks in English, credit cooperatives equivalent, ed), thanks in part to their ability to win in the nearby, are fully satisfying the requirements that will be needed in the new phase of sharing economy that is expected, a free economy of conditioning of State.”

Invited Speech

Monique Leroux President of International Cooperative Alliance

Monique Leroux,
President of International Cooperative Alliance and Chair of the International Board of Governors of the IRCCF Founding Institute
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Monique Leroux made an inspiring speech emphasizing the historic link between the Canadian and Italian co-operators:

“Alphonse Desjardins, the founder of the co-operative movement in Canada, was inspired by the popular bank model in Europe, particularly Italy. Alphonse Desjardins communicated with Luigi Luzzatti in 1898 to learn more about the Italian model. This was the beginning of a long correspondence in which M. Luzzatti became a very close advisor to M. Desjardins when he was setting up the very first popular bank in Canada. Their relationship went beyond co-operation as the two of them commented and exchanged on politics. Already at that time, in an era of limited means of communication, co-operation extended beyond borders.”

Mrs. Leroux faced up to the reality that the cooperative movement and, especially cooperative banking in Europe, was under stress and might even face serious restructuring in the years to come.

Monique Leroux President of International Cooperative Alliance

Rym Ayadi,
Director of Alphonse and Dorimène Desjardins International Institute for Cooperatives and International Research Centre on Cooperative Finance (IRCCF)
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Professor Ayadi spoke on the evolution and prospects of cooperative banks in Europe.
In the wake of the regulatory overhaul post financial crisis, cooperatives banks are facing fundamental challenges to respond to the new capital, liquidity and resolution requirements.

“Based on the evidence from the most recent Business Models Monitor in European banking, published by the IRCCF in January 2016, cooperatives banks have fared rather well, compared to their peers, in terms of performance, robustness and resilience. They have continued to lend to the real economy and pre-empt economic recovery in countries and regions where the economic crisis has hit hard. In countries such as Italy, with a tradition of cooperative banking, the recent legal changes towards promoting the demutualisation of the sector, do not adhere to the important and stabilising role that these institutions have had in Europe over recent decades.”

More information

The other speakers were:
• Gennaro Sangiuliano (deputy director of TG1, RAI – Radiotelevisione Italian),
• Giulio Sapelli (professor),
• Eric Meyer (professor),
• Giovanni Ferri (vice-rector of the LUMSA and member of the IRCCF Scientific Board).

Useful links

Video of the event on RadioRadicale.it

Photos by Sveva Biocca