ECB protests Daniel Roland/Stringer via Getty Images

Avons-nous perdu le contrôle des banquiers centraux ?

PRAGUE – Les critiques radicales des banques centrales des pays développés sont récemment devenues à la mode. La principale ligne d'attaque ressemble à quelque chose comme ceci : les autorités monétaires ont été beaucoup trop activistes depuis 2008, outrepassant leur mandat et endommageant l'économie. Cet argument – qui, bizarrement, est tout autant populaire parmi des adversaires idéologiques d’ordinaire inconciliables, comme les libertaires et les néo-marxistes – est manifestement faux.

Ce que les critiques ne parviennent pas à comprendre, c’est que les banques centrales modernes sont responsables non seulement de lutter contre l'inflation, mais aussi de maintenir la stabilité des prix à long terme. Tout comme la température du corps humain, les niveaux de prix ne peuvent aller, ni trop haut, ni trop bas, sans provoquer des complications graves. Les banques centrales doivent être tout autant « activistes » dans la lutte contre la déflation causée une faible demande que dans le cas d’une forte inflation causée par une trop forte demande.

Bien que la bataille soit complètement symétrique, l'évaluation publique de celle-ci est étonnamment déséquilibrée, en particulier dans les pays où les populations sont conservatrices sur le plan financier. Cela comprend mon propre pays, la République tchèque, une nation de petits épargnants où le ratio prêts sur dépôts reste bien en dessous de 100%. Les Tchèques craignent l'inflation, même si elle a atteint l’an dernier son niveau le plus bas en 13 ans et que la Banque nationale tchèque, dont je suis le vice-gouverneur, se batte depuis 2013 pour éviter le risque de déflation.

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