Images de pénurie

NEW HAVEN – L’image que nous avons tous vue à la télévision, celle de la calotte glaciaire du Groenland qui s’émiette dans l’océan à cause du réchauffement climatique pourrait-elle, indirectement, et psychologiquement, être en partie responsable du prix élevé du pétrole et d’autres matières premières ?

On a coutume d’expliquer la pénurie et la hausse des prix actuelles par la croissance explosive dans les pays émergents, la Chine et l’Inde en particulier, à “l’insatiable” soif de ressources limitées. Mais la psychologie a aussi un rôle à jouer dans les marchés spéculatifs, et peut-être cette image de la disparition de la glace du Groenland rend plus plausible le fait que tout le reste - la terre, l’eau, et même l’air pur - soit aussi en train de s’épuiser.

Prenons une étude de cas, le dernier cycle généralisé d’expansion-dépression des prix des matières premières, qui a provoqué une augmentation (plus ou moins) de ces prix dans les années 1960 jusqu’aux années 1980, et ensuite, généralement, une chute jusqu’au milieu des années 1990. Peut-être les images sont-elles aussi importantes que la substance pour expliquer ce cas.

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