L'Europe au défi du néolibéralisme

Pendant plus de vingt ans, j'ai soutenu que les forts taux de chômage d'Europe occidentale ne pouvaient persister. À la fin des années 1970, les monétaristes avaient fait le pari que seule une augmentation modeste et transitoire du chômage pouvait contenir l'inflation rampante - et ouverte - de l'occident industriel, et qu'avec le recul le coût du retour à la stabilité des prix effective en aurait valu la peine. En Grande-Bretagne et aux États-Unis, ce pari monétariste a connu une fin heureuse. Pas en Europe occidentale.

Au cours des 25 dernières années, le chômage européen a augmenté à mesure que la politique monétaire se tendait et que les taux d'intérêt étaient relevés pour combattre l'inflation. Mais lorsque l'inflation a succombé, le chômage n'a pas baissé, ou presque pas. Si le taux de chômage n'a quand même pas atteint les niveaux de la Grande dépression, il est resté assez haut pour faire du chômage à long terme, ou de la crainte du chômage à long terme, une expérience choquante.

Les gouvernements des sociétés dans lesquelles le taux de chômage officiel reste à 10% ou plus depuis plusieurs générations ont une mauvaise gestion économique. En conséquence, il m'a semblé pendant 20 ans que l'équilibre sous-jacent de la politique en Europe occidentale,– négociations collectives et assurance sociale généreuse, d'un côté, et politiques monétaires serrées de l'autre, était condamné à se fissurer.

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