L’économie selon Bush - Une simulation d’accident

Il y a quinze ans, les Etats-Unis traversaient une phase de “ perspectives réduites ”. La productivité avait cessé de croître, l’énergie coûtait cher, les réserves de technologies nées de la Grande Dépression étaient épuisées, et les économies d’échelle ne rapportaient plus autant qu’avant. Presque tous les économistes prévoyaient donc un ralentissement durable de la croissance économique. La productivité ayant stagné pendant près de vingt ans, il semblait raisonnable à l’époque de soutenir que les engagements du gouvernement américain en matière de protection sociale (Social Security, Medicare et Medicaid) étaient excessifs et devaient donc être réduits.

A l’époque peut-être, mais aujourd’hui ? Entre temps, on a assisté à une véritable explosion de l’innovation technologique, qui a ramené la croissance de la productivité à son niveau antérieur. A présent, l’économie américaine est au bord d’une révolution biotechnologique, voire nanotechnologique, de très grande ampleur. Les répercussions seront considérables. Et pourtant, il est de nouveau question de réduire les prestations sociales.

S’ils n’ont pas totalement perçu les conséquences de ces mutations technologiques, les spécialistes de la sécurité sociale ont nettement augmenté la marge de manœuvre du gouvernement. Il y a quinze ans, on s’accordait en effet à diagnostiquer de graves ennuis pour le système américain de sécurité sociale : il lui fallait un nouveau moteur. Aujourd’hui, les problèmes s’apparentent davantage à une fuite d’air lente dans un pneu, pour reprendre les mots de l’économiste Peter Orszag de la Brookings Institution : il faudra réparer, mais ce n’est ni très difficile ni très urgent.

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