Vers un nouveau consensus de Washington ?

CAMBRIDGE – Il y a deux ans et demi, des responsables de la Banque mondiale ont approché le lauréat du prix Nobel Michael Spence pour lui demander de diriger une commission de haut vol sur la croissance économique. On ne pouvait imaginer sujet plus important. Le consensus de Washington, cette infâme liste de choses à faire et à ne pas faire à l’intention des décideurs des pays en développement, s’était largement dissipé. Mais par quoi le remplacer ?

Spence n’était pas sûr d’être l’homme de la situation. Après tout, ses recherches s’étaient concentrées sur des sujets théoriques concernant les économies avancées ; il avait été doyen d’une école de commerce et n’avait pas beaucoup d’expérience en développement économique. Mais la tâche l’intriguait. Et la réponse positive et enthousiaste qu’il avait reçue des éventuels membres de la commission était encourageante. C’est ainsi que naquit la Commission Spence sur la croissance et le développement, prestigieux groupe de décideurs comprenant notamment un autre lauréat du prix Nobel, et dont le rapport final a paru à la fin du mois de mai.

Le rapport Spence est un jalon pour les politiques de développement – autant pour ce qu’il dit que pour ce qu’il tait. Envolées, les affirmations confiantes sur les vertus de la libéralisation, de la déréglementation, de la privatisation et des économies de marché. Envolées aussi les recommandations à l’emporte-pièce, indifférentes aux différences de contexte. À la place, le rapport Spence adopte une approche qui reconnaît les limites de nos connaissances, met l’accent sur le pragmatisme et le gradualisme et encourage les gouvernements à faire des expériences.

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