Italy’s windfall tax for banks: a good move?

The Italian government has announced a hefty 40 percent windfall tax for banks. The government hopes to raise "several billion" euros to ease the burden on citizens with the move, said Matteo Salvini, deputy prime minister and leader of the Lega party. Europe’s press takes stock.

La Repubblica (IT) /

Politically motivated

With this move the government is taking the wind out of the opposition’s sails, La Repubblica surmises:

“The anti-popular right that cut the citizen’s income benefit has transformed itself into a social right and introduced an unforeseen measure that hits the banking world, towards which the great mass of voters are not exactly well-disposed. With this, it has pulled the rug from under the feet of the extreme left, but also the Cinque Stelle party and certain perhaps not small sectors of the Partito Democratico. Indeed, one has the feeling that in the race for public approval, Giorgia Meloni and above all Salvini have beaten the rather combative front of leftist populism on the home straight.”

Stefano Folli
De Morgen (BE) /

Banks must assume responsibility

De Morgen sees a paradigm shift:

“The call to take back political ‘control’ is now being translated into the economy. For decades, economic deregulation was the norm and politicians were expected to simply look on as the market managed its own affairs. There was no alternative, was there? Successive crises are forcing governments of all stripes to test whether there are alternatives. And so they should. If enterprises such as banks have the ambition to play a central socio-economic role, they should also be reminded of their responsibilities.”

Bart Eeckhout
Les Echos (FR) /

Demagogic and misguided

The move is ill-conceived from an economic point of view, the business paper Les Echos explains:

“The unfortunate thing is that this decision has more to do with demagogy than with economic efficiency. It forgets that for almost ten years the interest rates offered by the very banks that are now being criticised enabled businesses to obtain cheap financing and households to obtain cheap consumer credit. Above all, it denies their central role in the functioning of an economy. Lastly, it deprives customers of any chance to increase the returns on their deposits.”

Daniel Fortin