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PARIS - Les responsables politiques mondiaux se félicitent régulièrement d'avoir évité, pendant la crise financière qui a débuté en 2008, les erreurs politiques des années 1930. Menés par Ben Bernanke, président de la Réserve fédérale américaine et économiste historien de la Grande Dépression, ils se sont rappelés les idées de John Maynard Keynes et ont assoupli la politique monétaire et budgétaire afin d'éviter le pire. Nous sommes encore aux prises avec un certain nombre de conséquences budgétaires, notamment en Europe, mais le fait est que 2008 n'a pas pour autant marqué la fin du monde.

Le resserrement monétaire n'a pas été la seule erreur politique majeure des années 1930 ; le retour au protectionnisme l'a également été, symbolisé par les augmentations tarifaires de Smoot-Hawley au début de cette décennie. Les historiens continuent de débattre de la centralité de la loi Smoot-Hawley elle-même, mais la guerre tarifaire qui suivit a endommagé de façon certaine la croissance commerciale et économique, empirant une situation déjà mauvaise.

Aujourd'hui, les hommes d'Etat se plaisent à affirmer qu'eux aussi ont résisté à l'erreur du protectionnisme, mais cela est-il vrai ? Certes, je ne m'attends pas à ce qu'une guerre tarifaire éclate à court terme, mais plusieurs indicateurs commerciaux prévoient un certain nombre de troubles.

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