underinvestment Luca Bruno/Flickr

Les dangers du sous-investissement

MILAN – Il y a 70 ans, à l'issue de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, une grande partie du monde (notamment les pays industrialisés d'Europe et d'autres qui avaient été occupés) était confrontée à une dette souveraine considérable, alors que la situation géopolitique était difficile et que beaucoup de grands pays étaient en ruine. En raison des difficultés de beaucoup d'entre eux à financer leurs énormes besoins en investissement, on aurait pu s'attendre à une longue période de coopération internationale limitée, de croissance faible, de chômage élevé et de privations. Mais cela ne s'est pas passé ainsi !

Bien au contraire, les dirigeants de la planète adoptèrent une vue à long terme. Ils ont compris que la réduction de la dette de leur pays dépendait de la croissance nominale et que cette dernière - ainsi d'ailleurs que la paix à long terme - dépendait de la reprise économique mondiale. Ils ont donc exploité au maximum leur bilan pour investir tout en s'ouvrant au commerce international, ce qui a favorisé la demande. Les USA dont les pertes matérielles étaient limitées (bien que fortement endettés) ont assumé naturellement le leadership dans ce processus.

Deux facteurs sont constitutifs de la reprise d'après-guerre. D'une part les pays endettés considéraient leur dette souveraine non comme une contrainte mais comme un moyen d'investissement et de développement de leur potentiel de croissance, d'autre part ils coopéraient dans de nombreux domaines. Les moins endettés adoptaient une stratégie d'aide à l'investissement au bénéfice de leurs partenaires. Il est vrai que le début de la Guerre froide a peut-être encouragé cette stratégie. Quoi qu'il en soit, ce n'était pas du chacun pour soi.

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