Les années perdues des États-Unis

BERKELEY – Écrire aujourd’hui sur la politique économique américaine n’est pas chose aisée. Nul ne peut dire si la bombe à retardement du relèvement du plafond de la dette pourra être désamorcée ; si oui, par quel moyen ; ou ce qu’il se passera si elle ne l’est pas.

Si aucune entente n’est trouvée sur le relèvement du plafond de la dette d’ici le 3 août, les taux d’intérêt sur les bons du Trésor américains pourraient flamber – ou rester stables, si les investisseurs décident qu’ils ont d’autres problèmes plus pressants. Ou bien la Réserve fédérale américaine, la Banque populaire de Chine (BPC), ou les deux – voire un autre organisme – pourrait décider de soutenir le marché. Les taux d’intérêt pourraient aussi partir à la hausse si l’économie mondiale reste plus atone que prévu – mais dans une économie mondiale anémique sans inflation, les investisseurs devraient détenir plus de bons du Trésor américains, pas moins.

Très franchement, personne ne sait quel accord sera conclu au plan législatif pour relever le plafond de la dette. Tout ce que nous savons aujourd’hui est qu’un accord comprendra sans doute une réduction des dépenses à court terme, signifiant une croissance plus faible et une augmentation du chômage sur les 18 prochains mois. Et il est également probable que cet accord sera annulé et remplacé par un autre arrangement en janvier 2013, soit par un président Obama réélu, soit par un nouveau président républicain.

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