euro bills Kevin Harber/Flickr

L'Europe après l'euro

SAINT-PIERRE-D'ENTREMONT, FRANCE – L'Union monétaire européenne n'a jamais été une bonne idée. Je me souviens de ma surprise quand, jeune professeur assistant, j'ai réalisé que j'étais contre le traité de Maastricht. J'ai pensais alors (et je pense toujours), que l'intégration européenne est une très bonne chose. Mais le manuel d'économie que j'utilisais dans mes cours montrait tous les dégâts que l'UME pouvait causer en l'absence d'une union budgétaire et politique.

Rien de ce qui s'est passé depuis ne m'a convaincu que mon manuel était excessivement pessimiste. Au contraire : il était bien trop optimiste. La vie est jonchée de peaux de banane et quand on marche sur l'une d'elles, il faut être en mesure de s'adapter. Mais l'union monétaire elle-même s'est avérée être une gigantesque peau de banane, qui a provoqué des mouvements de capitaux qui ont fait grimper les coûts à la périphérie de l'Europe. Et l'ajustement (c'est-à-dire, dévaluation de la monnaie), n'était pas une option.

En outre, la plupart des manuels de l'époque ne tenaient pas compte du secteur financier. Ainsi ils ont ignoré le fait que les flux de capitaux vers la périphérie seraient acheminés par l'intermédiaire de banques et que, lorsque les capitaux auraient cessé d'affluer, des crises bancaires allaient peser sur les finances publiques des membres de la périphérie. Ceci à son tour devait éroder davantage les bilans des banques et contraindre la création de crédit : la boucle fatale des banques souveraines dont nous avons tant entendu parler ces dernières années. Et aucun manuel scolaire n'a prédit que la coopération européenne imposerait une austérité procyclique sur les pays touchés par la crise, en créant des dépressions qui dans certains cas rivaliseraient avec celles des années 1930.

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