Paul Lachine

Friedman a complété les travaux de Keynes

L’économiste le plus connu et le plus influent du siècle dernier est décédé en novembre. Milton Friedman n’est pourtant pas le plus connu, ni le plus influent au monde – l’honneur revient à John Maynard Keynes, même si Milton Friedman le suit de près.

D’une part, Friedman était l’élève vedette, le successeur de Keynes et il a même complété ses travaux. Dans sa Théorie générale de l’emploi, de l’intérêt et de la monnaie , Keynes a posé le cadre que presque tous les économistes utilisent aujourd’hui : un cadre reposant sur l’importance des dépenses et la demande, sur les facteurs déterminant les dépenses, sur la théorie de la préférence pour la liquidité des taux d’intérêts à court terme et sur la nécessité d’interventions stratégiques et puissantes des gouvernements, afin de maintenir l’économie stable et d’éviter les extrêmes de la dépression et les excès frénétiques. Comme le dit Friedman : « à présent, nous sommes tous keynésiens ».

La théorie de Keynes était pourtant incomplète : elle portait sur l’emploi, l’intérêt et la monnaie, non pas sur les prix. Friedman y a ajouté une théorie sur les prix et sur l’inflation, d’après l’idée du taux de chômage naturel et des limites de la politique publique – au-delà desquelles l’intervention de l’État déclencherait une inflation incontrôlable et destructive – en vue de stabiliser l’économie et de parvenir à une tendance croissante durable.

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