Politique d’austérité d’hier et d’aujourd’hui

PRINCETON – La politique de consolidation budgétaire de la Grande Bretagne récemment annoncée par le Chancelier de l’Echiquier George Osborne a provoqué une énorme onde de choc partout dans le monde. M. Osborne a déclaré que la Grande Bretagne était au bord du gouffre et qu’il n’y avait aucune autre alternative à cette politique si le pays voulait éviter une crise de confiance majeure.

D’autres pays comme la Grèce, par exemple, ont eu besoin d’une vraie bonne crise pour adopter de telles mesures d’ajustement, alors que la Grande Bretagne agit avec prudence et de façon préventive. Si la Grande Bretagne - dont la part de la dette dans le PIB est relativement réduite (64,6%) - est inquiète, il faut en déduire que de nombreux autres pays devraient aussi très sérieusement s’inquiéter.

Mais les tentatives désespérées de consolidation budgétaire rappellent immanquablement la Grande Dépression. Le Secrétaire d’état américain au Trésor de l’époque, Andrew Mellon, avait parlé de liquider les travailleurs, les agriculteurs, les réserves et l’immobilier de façon à « purger la pourriture du système. » En Grande Bretagne à la même époque, Philip Snowden, un homme petit au visage étroit et pincé, qui avait besoin d’une cane pour se déplacer, semblait vouloir reproduire une économie britannique à son image.

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