Pour en finir avec la tragédie grecque

SANTIAGO – Devant la réalité de l’insolvabilité de la Grèce, les responsables européens semblent envisager un « plan B » consistant à alléger le poids des remboursements futurs de sa dette. On est assez loin de ce qui avait été initialement envisagé – sous diverses formes – c’est-à-dire d’imposer plus de dette à un pays déjà trop lourdement endetté.

La dette publique de la Grèce est aujourd’hui à près de 160% du PIB officiel du pays. Supposons qu’il faille 25 ans à la Grèce pour la ramener au plafond de Maastricht de 60%. Dans l’hypothèse où le taux d’intérêt réel sur la dette grecque serait de 4% (plus ou moins ce que paye la Grèce aujourd’hui pour les fonds d’urgence de l’Union Européenne) et que le PIB annuel augmente de 2% en moyenne, l’excédent du budget primaire requis chaque année pendant le prochain quart de siècle serait de 5,7% du PIB. C’est un fardeau incroyablement lourd qui risquerait de condamner la Grèce à une récession et à des conflits sociaux interminables.

Un possible contre-argument est que la Grèce a une importante économie souterraine, ce qui fait que son PIB actuel est plus élevé que le chiffre officiel. En conséquence, les ratios de la dette normalement appliqués à la Grèce pourraient s’avérer exagérés. Mais l’activité souterraine est de peu d’utilité au remboursement la dette si elle ne peut être assujettie à l’impôt. Et de toute façon, la marge de manouvre pour relever les impôts est extrêmement limitée dans une économie qui rétrécie rapidement.

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