Janet Yellen Ron Sachs/ZumaPress

Un récit édifiant sur le resserrement monétaire aux États-Unis

BERKELEY – La Réserve fédérale américaine a entrepris un effort visant à resserrer la politique monétaire quatre fois au cours des quatre dernières décennies. À chacune de ces occasions, l'effort a déclenché des processus qui ont réduit l'emploi et la production bien au-delà de ce que le personnel de la Fed avait prévu. Alors que la Fed se prépare à nouveau à resserrer la politique monétaire, un examen de cette histoire (et de l'état actuel de l'économie), suggère que les États-Unis sont sur le point de s'avancer en territoire dangereux.

Entre 1979 et 1982, le président de la Fed Paul Volcker a modifié l'approche de la politique monétaire que se faisaient les pouvoirs publics. Son idée était la suivante : en contrôlant la quantité de monnaie en circulation, la Fed pourrait combiner des réductions plus importantes de l'inflation à de plus petites augmentations de la capacité inutilisée et du chômage, par rapport aux prévisions des modèles keynésiens traditionnels.

Malheureusement pour la Fed (et pour l'économie américaine), les modèles keynésiens se sont avérés précis : leurs prévisions des coûts de la désinflation étaient exactes. En outre, cette période de resserrement monétaire a eu des conséquences inattendues : des établissements financiers comme Citicorp ont constaté que seule une abstention de réglementation les avait sauvés de la faillite et une grande partie de l'Amérique latine a été plongée dans une dépression qui a duré plus de cinq ans.

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