The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Vecchio, Gustavo del (1883–1972)

  • F. Caffè
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-349-95189-5_1818

Abstract

Del Vecchio was born at Lugo in Romagna on 22 June 1883, and died in Rome on 6 September 1972. He initially attended the university in Rome, where he followed the history of philosophy course under Antonio Labriola. He continued his studies in Bologna, where he was greatly influenced by the teaching of Tullio Martello, follower of Francesco Ferrara’s work. His postgraduate studies, which were completed in Berlin, gave Del Vecchio’s entire work a wide cultural outlook, influenced by historical, philosophical and sociological factors, as well as purely economic considerations. He became Professor of Political Economy at the Universities of Trieste and Bologna, and Professor of Public Finance at the University of Rome. He lectured at the Bocconi University of Milan, where he was Chancellor from 1934 to 1938. During this last year he was forced to give up his teaching because of the anti-semitic measures adopted by the Fascist government. He went into exile in Switzerland in the latter years of World War II, and on his return to Italy started teaching once again. He was Minister of the Treasury from 1947 to 1950, but these public duties represented only a brief intermission in his life as a dedicated academic.

Del Vecchio was born at Lugo in Romagna on 22 June 1883, and died in Rome on 6 September 1972. He initially attended the university in Rome, where he followed the history of philosophy course under Antonio Labriola. He continued his studies in Bologna, where he was greatly influenced by the teaching of Tullio Martello, follower of Francesco Ferrara’s work. His postgraduate studies, which were completed in Berlin, gave Del Vecchio’s entire work a wide cultural outlook, influenced by historical, philosophical and sociological factors, as well as purely economic considerations. He became Professor of Political Economy at the Universities of Trieste and Bologna, and Professor of Public Finance at the University of Rome. He lectured at the Bocconi University of Milan, where he was Chancellor from 1934 to 1938. During this last year he was forced to give up his teaching because of the anti-semitic measures adopted by the Fascist government. He went into exile in Switzerland in the latter years of World War II, and on his return to Italy started teaching once again. He was Minister of the Treasury from 1947 to 1950, but these public duties represented only a brief intermission in his life as a dedicated academic.

Del Vecchio’s scientific work shows that he constantly tried to unify the tradition of Italian economic thought, whose main personality was Francesco Ferrara, with the theories of equilibrium, whether of the approach suggested by Marshall, or by Walras and Pareto. He was, moreover, profoundly influenced by the work of Maffeo Pantaleoni in the task of constructing an economic dynamics, to be understood not merely as a modification of static analysis, but as a building of a new economic framework. On the one hand, in a series of books which lasted from 1922 to 1950, Del Vecchio realized a unified exposition of political economy, public finance and economic policy, which he believed to be ‘successive stages in the passage from a major to a minor level of abstraction in a unique theoretical framework’. On the other hand, on the academic plane, he carried out pioneering analyses which have received wide recognition in the literature (by Schumpeter, Ohlin, Knight and Stigler, among others). In particular, his research into the application of the marginal principle to money can be traced back to 1909; this research was started with the previously scarcely recognized Walrasian analysis of money, but criticizing some aspects of it and carrying out original developments. Among his important early works are his analyses of the process of the formation of savings which (in 1915) he linked not to the interest rate (the generally held view) but to the quality of income, that is, to its sources. He also carried out important research into the process of accumulation which he felt could not be explained purely in terms of economic factors; he believed that in order to obtain a realistic understanding of the whole accumulation process, it was necessary that non-economic factors should also be taken into account. His contributions to the pure theory of international trade, to the concept of risk as an uncertainty related to the passing of time, and to the empirical investigation into consumer behaviour by means of the investigations of relations between income and consumption have all been recognized. From all his contributions emerges the need to analyse the economy from a broader perspective, avoiding the aridity of abstraction and formalism.

Selected Works

  • 1909. I principi della teoria economica della moneta. Giornale degli Economisti.

  • 1912. Relazioni tra entrata e consumo. Giornale degli Economisti.

  • 1915. Lineamenti generali della teoria dell’interesse. Rome: Athenaeum.

  • 1928. Teoria economica dell’assicurazione. Annali di Economia dell’Universita Bocconi, Milan.

  • 1936. Progressi della teoria economica. Padua: Cedam.

  • 1930. Grundlinien der Geldtheorie. Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck).

  • 1932. Ricerce sopra le teoria generale della moneta. Milan: Università Bocconi.

  • 1956. Vecchie e nuovo teorie economiche. Turin: Utet.

  • 1961. Economia generale. Turin: Utet.

  • 1983. Anthology of the Writings of Gustavo del Vecchio on the Centenary of His Birth. Milan: F. Angeli.

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Caffè
    • 1
  1. 1.