Paul Krugman Panayiotis Tzamaros/ZumaPress

Les économistes contre l'économie

CAMBRIDGE – Depuis la fin du XIXème siècle, où l'économie a adopté de façon de plus en plus systématique les mathématiques et les statistiques et a prétendu devenir une discipline scientifique, ses praticiens ont été accusés d'une multitude de péchés. Les accusations d'orgueil, de négligence des objectifs sociaux au-delà des revenus, d'une attention excessive à des techniques formelles et d'une incapacité à prédire les grands développements économiques comme les crises financières venaient en général de l'extérieur, ou d'une frange hétérodoxe de la discipline. Mais dernièrement, les sommités de cette discipline semblent témoigner en personne de leur mécontentement.

Paul Krugman, prix Nobel d'économie, qui tient également une colonne dans un journal, a pris l'habitude de descendre en flammes la dernière génération de modèles macroéconomiques, au motif qu'ils négligent les vérités keynésiennes démodées. Paul Romer, l'un des initiateurs de la nouvelle théorie de la croissance, a accusé certains grands noms, dont le prix Nobel Robert Lucas, de ce qu'il désigne sous le terme de « mathiness », soit une utilisation des mathématiques pour obscurcir plutôt que pour clarifier.

Richard Thaler, un économiste comportemental distingué de l'Université de Chicago, s'est fait une spécialité d'ignorer les comportements du monde réel et de leur préférer des modèles qui supposent que les individus sont des optimiseurs rationnels. Et le professeur de finances Luigi Zingales, lui aussi de l'Université de Chicago, a accusé ses confrères spécialistes en finances d'avoir induit en erreur la société en surestimant les bénéfices produits par le secteur financier.

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