g20 summit Chris McGrath | getty images

Comment combattre la prochaine récession

PARIS – Si vous ne comprenez pas ce qui se passe dans l’économie de la zone euro, ne vous sentez pas seul. On nous dit un jour que la croissance appartient au passé, le lendemain, que la reprise est en marche ; et le troisième jour, que la Banque centrale européenne envisage d’envoyer un chèque à chaque citoyen de la zone euro pour relancer la production et ressusciter l’inflation. Rarement la situation économique a été si confuse.

Commençons avec la croissance à moyen terme. Depuis la crise financière qui a éclaté en 2008, la croissance de la productivité a ralenti. Curieusement, la magie des smartphones et de leur puissance de calcul ne semble pas compenser le ralentissement des gains d’efficacité dans l’industrie manufacturière et les services traditionnels. Depuis bientôt dix ans, la croissance annuelle de la productivité dans les économies avancées est plus proche de 1 % que des 2 % des années précédentes.

Peut-être s’agit-il d’une pause passagère, voire d’une illusion statistique. Mais comme rien n’indique que cette situation est sur le point de prendre fin, les responsables de politique économique ont revu à la baisse leurs prévisions. Le Bureau du budget du Congrès des États-Unis ne cesse d’abaisser les perspectives de productivité : sa progression anticipée entre 2010 et 2020 est passée des 25 % attendus en 2010 à 16 %, selon la dernière projection ; au Royaume-Uni, le Bureau pour la responsabilité budgétaire a pareillement ramené la progression attendue de la productivité de 22 % à 14 %. Peu à peu, chacun s’ajuste au temps des vaches maigres.

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