Un temps pour dépenser

BERKELEY – L’idée centrale de la macroéconomie était un fait déjà connu de John Stuart Mill dès le premier tiers du dix-neuvième siècle : il peut y avoir un large écart entre l’offre et la demande de pour ainsi dire tous les biens et les services produits à un moment donné et pour tous types de travail s’il y a un excès de demande tout aussi important pour les biens financiers. Et ce point fondamental est la source de gros soucis.

Un écart normal entre l’offre et la demande pour quelques sous-ensembles de marchandises produites à un moment donné n’est pas un problème grave, car il est contrebalancé par un excès de demande pour d’autres marchandises produites. Les industries supportant un manque de demande suppriment des emplois tandis que celles qui profitent d’un surplus de demande les embauchent. L’économie se rééquilibre rapidement et retourne au plein emploi – et ce dans une configuration de l’emploi et de la production mieux adaptée aux préférences des consommateurs.

Par contre, un écart entre l’offre et la demande lorsque le surplus de la demande correspondant se porte sur les biens financiers entraine généralement un effondrement économique. Les travailleurs sans emploi ne peuvent en effet aisément fabriquer les biens – de l’argent et des titres qui ne soient pas uniquement notés de première qualité d’investissement, mais qui le soient effectivement – que les marchés financiers ne fournissent pas de manière adéquate. Le flux des travailleurs sans emploi est supérieur au flux des travailleurs qui ont retrouvé un emploi. Comme l’emploi et les revenus chutent, les dépenses pour les marchandises produites à ce moment donné chutent plus encore et l’économie est précipitée dans une spirale descendante vers la récession.

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