L’économie High-Tech et High-Touch

LONDRES – Un rapport récent a révélé que la fortune des cinq familles les plus riches de Grande-Bretagne dépasse celle combinée des 20% les plus pauvres du pays. Une partie de cette richesse provient de nouvelles entreprises; mais deux des cinq sont un duc et un comte dont les ancêtres possédaient les terres que la ville de Londres a occupé lors de son expansion au XIXe siècle.

La richesse dérivée de la possession de terres urbaines n'est pas un phénomène propre à Londres. Comme Thomas Piketty le montre dans son livre récent Le capital au vingt-et-unième siècle, l’accumulation de richesse a rapidement augmenté par rapport au revenu dans les économies avancées au cours des 40 dernières années. Dans de nombreux pays, la majorité de cette richesse – et la plus grosse part de l'augmentation – est concentrée dans le logement et l'immobilier commercial, et la plupart de cette richesse ne tient pas à la valeur des immeubles mais à celle des terrains urbains sur lesquels ils sont bâtis.

Cela peut sembler étrange. Bien que nous vivions dans le monde virtuel de la haute technologie de l'Internet, la valeur du bien physique par excellence – la terre – ne cesse d’augmenter. Cependant, il n'y a aucune contradiction : le prix de la terre augmente justement en raison des progrès technologiques rapides. A l’ère des technologies de l'information et de la communication (TIC), il est inévitable que nous accordions de la valeur à ce que l'économie à forte intensité en TIC ne peut pas créer.

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