Introduction The global financial crisis, which began in 2007 with the bursting of the US housing bubble, rapidly infected the world economy in various ways. The output contraction in the US spilled over to other economies through a slump in exports, and the troubles that the housing bubble caused in financial markets resulted in a widespread financial crisis. This in turn led to a ‘credit crunch’, and the efficiency of financial intermediation suffered substantially. As a member of the European Union, Italy was not spared the adverse consequences of this crisis.