‘Euro scritturali’ and why Italians shouldn’t issue them

Times seem hard in Italy.

Recent statistics show that those unable to purchase basic essentials, reached 4.7 million last year, or 7.9% of the Italian population and up from almost 1.7 million in 2006.

Two banks have been bailed out but by the Italian taxpayer rather than by the European Central bank, which has proved once again that the ECB has no intention of being a lender of last resort. And means that Italy’s government is operating without a sovereign currency. The reason for the Italian government taking the pain seems to be that the bank bondholders comprised mostly small individual savers who were perhaps too numerous to lose all their savings.

With all this troubling news it is less of a surprise to read that Italians have been creating their own money. Yes, they have been creating ‘scriptural’ Euros in such quantities that the Banca d’Italia has had to ask them to desist!

The Bank says that writing Scriptural Euros or “scriptwriting, is an activity allowed by law only to authorised persons, such as banks, electronic money institutions and other payment institutions. “

It seems that the Euro writers rely on the fact that there is a copyright symbol “©” on every Euro note which is a private, not a government symbol in Italian law. (They also appear on UK notes in case anyone was wondering. But that too is odd – people are unable to copy notes because they are copyright seems an odd control for counterfeiting money – but perhaps they think people would like to steal the pictures?)

So in effect scriptural Euro issuers were trying to include citizens as ‘authorised persons’.
Allegedly only one payment has been made: 25 Euros to Facebook for advertising – I’m unclear how it was accepted, but it was on the basis of ‘just this one occasion’….

Curiouser and curiouser.

And ironically, if the Banca d’Italia really had the right to create money it wouldn’t have to rely on Italy’s taxpayers.

Let’s hope that at least the admonishment to the citizenry helps more people to realise where money really comes from.


  1. Sean Danaher -

    I visited Italy many times in the 1970s and there seemed to be a shortage of currency. So much so that telephone, washing machine tokens and even sweets were used as a form of currency. There is a culture of using alternative currencies in Italy.

    Being Irish the fact that it was the Irish taxpayer who had to bail out the banks rather than the EU central bank was galling. The National debt went up from about 25% of GDP to about 125%. Frankfurt should definitely be doing more; the Euro must be for all not just for the benefit of the German economy.

    1. Peter May -

      I’m not sure who issues the banking licences for the Euro. I presume it is still the national governments/banks. For some reason they don’t seem to have the power to instruct the ECB to support their (local) banks. Perhaps the ECB should de required to issue licences in order that they ‘take ownership’?
      On reflection think you’re right about Italians and alternative currency. That’s probably why the Banco d’Italia got a bit jumpy!

  2. Curtis -

    Sounds like a good idea! The ultimate challenge to the system. This could also create a new Bartering system, worldwide. I too shall call my handmade currency a Euro Scriptural Note, even though I am in California, USA for the Solidarity. Currency, like all other things, springs from the imagination. The questions are, who will accept it and why? Since Amazon accepted a, ES note once, each of us should try, try again!

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