Bank of England Oli Scarff / Getty Images

Les banques centrales et la revanche du politique

FRANCFORT – Les banques centrales ont toujours eu une réputation plus ou moins flatteuse. Depuis des années, beaucoup leur associent un prestige quasi-sans précédent. Une mise au point apparaît néanmoins inévitable aujourd'hui, à l'heure où l'indépendance des banques centrales est de plus en plus critiquée.

La renommée des banques centrales a atteint des sommets au cours des quelques années ayant précédé et suivi l'entrée dans le nouveau millénaire, époque dite de la Grande Modération. Au cours de cette période, inflation faible et stable, croissance soutenue, et haut niveau d'emploi en ont conduit beaucoup à considérer les banques centrales comme maîtresses de l'univers, capables – et c'est ce que l'on attendait d'elles – de gérer l'économie au bénéfice de tous. Le qualificatif de « maestro » attribué au président de la Réserve fédérale Alan Greenspan illustre cette conception.

La crise financière mondiale de 2008 a dans un premier temps renforcé la réputation dont jouissaient alors les banques centrales. Au travers de mesures décisives, les autorités monétaires ont activement contribué à empêcher un nouvel épisode de Grande Dépression. Ceci leur a valu d’être à nouveau saluées comme les bienfaitrices de l'économie mondiale.

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