european central bank Bloomberg/Getty Images

Pourquoi les banques centrales sont-elles à nouveau sur la sellette ?

LONDRES – Durant la dernière décennie, les banques centrales ont été successivement dénigrées et portées au pinacle. Vont-elles à présent rejouer de malchance et voir à nouveau leur réputation ternie ?

En 2006, lorsqu'Alan Greenspan a pris sa retraite après18 ans de règne au poste de Président de la Réserve fédérale américaine, sa réputation était à peu près sans tache. Il avait dirigé l'économie américaine durant la flambée puis la chute des entreprises point-com en 2000, géré soigneusement la menace potentielle contre la croissance suite aux attaques terroristes du 11 septembre 2001 et présidé durant une période de croissance rapide du PIB et de la productivité. Lors de sa dernière réunion du Conseil d'administration, Timothy Geithner, alors Président de la Fed de New York, a fait ce qui passe à présent pour un éloge embarrassant, en disant que l'excellente réputation de Greenspan avait toutes les chances de croître plutôt que de diminuer à l'avenir.

À peine trois ans plus tard, le prix Nobel d'économie Paul Krugman, en reprenant le sketch du perroquet par les Monty Python, a déclaré que Greenspan était un ancien maestro dont la réputation mangeait les pissenlits par la racine. Au début de ce siècle, les banques centrales ont largement donné l'impression d'être dans la lune. Elles ont permis à des déséquilibres mondiaux de s'accumuler, ont considéré comme inoffensive l'énorme bulle de crédit, ont ignoré les signaux d'alarme sur le marché hypothécaire et ont admiré sans réserve les produits innovants mais toxiques conçus par des banques d'investissement surpayées.

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