It's been 545 years since 1472, year of the foundation of the Monte dei Paschi di Siena, which heralded the beginning of the modern economy. An extremely long period, during which an infinite array of seminal and insignificant events were played out.
The institute was born as a Mount of Piety, offering assistance to the poorest inhabitants of Siena and the county, and went on to develop into a bank with a series of reforms over the next few centuries. It is the world's oldest bank, however over the last few years it has found itself in the thralls of a profound crisis, reviving the debate on the future of the global economy in Tuscany, its land of origin.
Luciano Cimbolini, a public finance expert from Tuscany, recounts the stages which have culminated in the current state of criticality and explains how the very function of money has evolved, or perhaps involuted, with its identity as a cornerstone of economic, political and social life gradually withering away. Today it is finance, impalpable and apparently immaterial, which often orientates States and governments in obscure and indecipherable ways. Said finance appears to have estranged itself from the authentic values of work and merchandise, and is increasingly being invoked as the main reason behind the collapse of the world's economic system.
Cimbolini guides us through a fascinating and educational journey through time, on the trail of money and on a search for its purpose: from goods for exchange to coins. With immense skill, simplicity and freshness this work recounts the steps along a journey which takes us from market stalls to banks and beyond, right up to the brink of an announced default.
Luciano Cimbolini was born in Anghiari (AR) in 1970. He has a law degree and attended the Graduate School of Public Administration. He has been working at the Ministry of Economy and Finance since 2002. He collaborates with "Il Sole 24 Ore".