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This means that no synthetic survey of the system's functioning and results can be carried out: what is required is identification of the various stages. Moreover, the system of state participation comprises a large number of bodies each of which presents specific features and peculiarities. FORMATION OF THE SYSTEM The origin of the state participation system lies in the 1930s and was an outcome of the close relationships which, from the very Substituting Political Objectives for Business Goals 27 start of Italy's industrial development, were established between business and the banking system.

Paul de Grauwe and Greet van de Velde, who focus on the NIM in Belgium (Chapter 4), also describe poor rates of return in the period before, as well as after, the 1970s slump. 5). Professor de Grauwe and Mrs van de Velde are sceptical of any employment effect of this expenditure. They argue that 'through the NIM, capital provided by society is transformed into consumption by employees in lame duck industries' and they continue: 'Most of the objectives entrusted to the NIM are impossible to realise, given the fact that the NIM has become an instrument of the executive branch of the government ...

Public opinion, the political parties and even the very people who created and shaped the system are questioning the validity of the lines along which it developed. At the same time, however, there is widespread scepticism about the possibility of reforming it. This is a symptom of the huge difficulties underlying the structure. Given the importance it has acquired, these difficulties cannot be dealt with or solved in any simple way. Moreover, this crisis combines some aspects specific to the Italian situation with the more general problems which have arisen in all countries adopting structures of this kind.

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