Des règles d’or pour la zone euro

LONDRES – D’après ces nombreux détracteurs, l’Union monétaire européenne aurait des airs d’étalon-or, un régime qui avant 1913 imposait des taux de change fixes à des économies fort différentes. Mais cette ressemblance est-elle si mauvaise, comme les critiques insistantes de l’euro voudraient le laisser croire ?

L’attrait de l’étalon-or historique réside dans la capacité qu’il donne aux institutions à susciter la confiance. Le carcan des taux de change fixes exclut complètement les interventions de politique monétaire, et en conséquence rend très ardu le rééquilibrage des flux commerciaux avec l’extérieur. De plus, le fardeau est inégal, car les pays en déficit subissent plus de pression pour les effacer par déflation que les pays en surplus de laisser monter l’inflation.

Les pessimistes sont particulièrement anxieux des analogies et des leçons douloureuses de l’étalon-or. Ils prévoient pour l’Europe des années et même des décennies de croissance anémique. Sans compter que, politiquement, le remède déflationniste est si amer et si difficile à avaler pour les pays déficitaires que bon nombre de ces pessimistes estiment le processus d’ajustement irréalisable.

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