L'austérité, Keynes ou l'inflation ?

CAMBRIDGE – Pratiquement tous les problèmes macroéconomiques urgents de la planète sont liés à la menace que font peser les différentes formes de dette. En Europe, une combinaison dangereuse de la dette des Etats, des banques et de la dette extérieure à sa périphérie pourrait entraîner l'éclatement de la zone euro. De l'autre coté de l'Atlantique, du fait de l'affrontement entre les démocrates, le Tea Party et les conservateurs traditionnels, il est impossible de savoir comment les USA vont s'y prendre pour combler à long terme leur déficit budgétaire à hauteur de 8% du PIB. Quant au Japon, son déficit s'élève à 10% du PIB, bien que les nouveaux retraités en nombre croissant vendent leurs obligations japonaises.

Si ce n'est à manifester son inquiétude, que doit faire l'Etat ? A une extrême on trouve les partisans du remède keynésien qui repose sur l'idée que le déficit public importe peu en période de forte récession - et plus elle est forte, mieux c'est. A l'autre extrême, on trouve les fondamentalistes du plafonnement de la dette qui veulent que l'Etat revienne à l'équilibre budgétaire dès demain (si ce n'est aujourd'hui même). Ces deux solutions sont dangereusement simplistes.

Les fondamentalistes du plafonnement de la dette sous-estiment grossièrement le coût de l'ajustement nécessaire pour stopper brusquement le financement par l'endettement. C'est à cause de ce coût que des pays désargentés comme la Grèce sont confrontés à d'énormes problèmes sociaux et économiques alors que la confiance disparaît au sein des marchés financiers et que le flux de capitaux s'arrête brusquement.

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