Un frein au largage de billets par hélicoptères

PARIS – Face à un ralentissement économique mondial, un certain nombre d'observateurs (dont l'ancien Président de la Réserve fédérale des États-Unis Ben Bernanke et Brad DeLong, économiste à Berkeley), ont fait valoir que l'expansion budgétaire financée par la création de monnaie ne doit pas être exclue des mesures à prendre. Mais ces discussions autour de ces largages par hélicoptères de billets fraîchement sortis de la planche à billets ont suscité une forte contre-attaque, notamment de la part de Michael Heise, économiste en chef chez Allianz et de Koichi Hamada, le conseiller économique en chef du Premier ministre Shinzo Abe et l'un des architectes des « Abenomics », le programme de relance économique du Japon.

Je ne partage pas l'avis de Heise et Hamada, mais ils mettent le doigt sur le problème principal : le risque que l'autorisation d'un financement monétaire ne mène à son utilisation excessive. La question essentielle consiste à savoir si nous pouvons concevoir des règles et des responsabilités en vue de nous prémunir contre ce danger. Je crois que cela est non seulement possible, mais que nous devons le faire. Et que dans certains pays le choix ne consistera pas à se passer de financement monétaire, mais d'y avoir recours sans contrôle.

Comme je l'ai déjà soutenu dans un récent article du Fonds Monétaire International, l'aspect technique positif du financement monétaire est indiscutable. C'est une politique qui stimule toujours la demande nominale, même lorsque d'autres politiques sont inefficaces, comme par exemple les déficits budgétaires financés par l'emprunt ou par des taux d'intérêt négatifs. Et son impact sur la demande nominale peut en principe être ajusté : une petite quantité produira un stimulus potentiellement utile soit sur la production, soit au niveau des prix, alors qu'un montant très élevé produira une inflation excessive.

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