It is difficult to judge the extent to which Italy was ravaged economically by the war. Widely divergent and unreliable statistics make an accurate assessment virtually impossible (Daneo 1975:5-6), but the view of most specialists at the time was that the industrial apparatus had not been unduly damaged.
From the point of view of economic reconstruction Italy was short of steel, required an appropriate supply of energy (the lack of natural resources was not new), and needed to reconstruct as soon as possible its internal transportation system which had unquestionably been seriously affected by the conflict.
There were, however, two fundamental questions of economic strategy which had to be resolved by Italy's first postwar governments (1945-7) which were broad national unity coalitions including the Christian Democratic Party (DC), the Communist Party (PCI), and the socialists (PSI) as well as smaller parties of the centre. These two fundamental questions were:
How should Italy's external economic relations be conducted? Should there be a continuation of fascist economic policy on the assumption that the country needed a strong dose of protectionism or should the economy be open to the international market? Should economic growth be based on a strong national market or should it be export-led?
What relation should there be between the state and the economy? Should Italy continue and perhaps develop the model of state interventionism which had been pioneered in the 1930s by maintaining the extensive network of state holdings built up by the fascist regime or should the country model itself according to the principles of economic liberalism?
Decisions such as these are, ultimately, determined by prevailing constraints. There were ideological preconceptions against autarchy because of its associations with fascism. There were economic constraints: Italy, having no oil, coal, or iron, was dependent on the outside world for most of