La dernière chance à saisir pour l'Europe

STANFORD – Les démissions du premier ministre grec George Papandreou et du premier ministre italien Silvio Berlusconi ont mis en évidence comment la Grèce, l'Italie et de nombreux autres pays ont aggravé depuis trop longtemps leurs problèmes de longue date dans les secteurs publics sclérosés par d’insoutenables avantages sociaux. En effet, pour la plupart de ces pays, une réforme significative est maintenant devenue inévitable.

Les systèmes de protection sociale en Europe, comme aux États-Unis, au Japon et ailleurs, ont été conçus dans des circonstances économiques et démographiques très différentes – croissance économique plus rapide, croissance démographique et espérance de vie inférieure – par rapport à celles d’aujourd'hui. Les gouvernements (l’attention se porte en ce moment vers la Grèce et l'Italie, mais ils ne sont pas seuls dans ce cas) ont promis trop, à trop de gens, depuis trop longtemps. Mon livre de 1986, Too Many Promises, a soulevé ce même problème à propos du système de protection sociale des Etats-Unis.

Ce problème fondamental se manifeste maintenant dans la dynamique de dette insoutenable de ces pays. L'adhésion à l’euro, qui a permis temporairement un emprunt massif à faible taux d'intérêt, a seulement aggravé la dette.

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