Paul Lachine

Bons et mauvais déficits

LONDRES - « Les déficits sont toujours mauvais », tonnent les experts en matière fiscale. Pas tant que ça, répond l’analyste en investissements stratégiques H. Wood Brock, dans un nouveau livre intéressant, The American Gridlock.*  Une évaluation appropriée, discute Brock, dépend de la « composition et de la qualité de la dépense totale du gouvernement. »

Les déficits du gouvernement qui résultent de la dépense courante pour des services ou des transferts sont mauvais, parce qu'ils ne produisent aucun revenu et s’ajoutent à la dette nationale. En revanche, les déficits résultant de la dépense en capital sont - ou peuvent être - bons. Si elle est administrée avec sagesse, une telle dépense produit un flux de revenus qui entretient et finit par solder la dette. D’une manière primordiale, elle relance la productivité et améliore ainsi le potentiel de croissance de longue durée d'un pays.

De cette distinction s’ensuit une règle fiscale importante : la dépense courante des gouvernements devrait normalement être équilibrée par les impôts. Jusqu'à ce point, les efforts pour réduire aujourd'hui les déficits de la dépense courante sont justifiés, mais seulement s'ils sont entièrement remplacés par des programmes de dépense en capital. En effet, la réduction de la dépense courante et l'augmentation de la dépense en capital devraient être étroitement liées.

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