Une solution au problème de crédibilité de l’Europe

PARIS – Alors que la zone euro débat de savoir comment échapper au piège de la stagnation dans lequel elle se trouve, une question est devenue de plus en plus importante : les gouvernements peuvent-ils s'engager de manière crédible à réduire les dépenses publiques dans le futur, tout en limitant les coupes immédiates ? A cette question, on peut heureusement donner une réponse positive (quoiqu’avec prudence) : il existe des moyens pour assurer que des politiques budgétaires accommodantes aujourd’hui soient suivies demain par une consolidation.

La croissance et l’inflation dans la zone euro restent beaucoup trop faibles. La dernière évaluation de la Banque centrale européenne est peu encourageante et le président de la BCE Mario Draghi n'a fait aucun secret du fait que les risques restent orientés à la baisse. La croissance du PIB nominal – c'est à dire, la croissance réelle augmentée de l'inflation – ne dépassera pas 1,5% cette année et pourrait bien finir à un niveau dangereusement proche de 1%.

La politique monétaire soutient l’activité, mais elle atteindra bientôt ses limites, et l'initiative de la BCE pour stimuler le crédit en prêtant aux banques commerciales à des conditions extrêmement bon marché ne s'est pas avérée aussi efficace que souhaité. Des obligations d'État à dix ans de qualité triple A procurent actuellement un rendement d’environ 1%, ce qui suggère que les marchés ne s'attendent pas à un fort rebond.

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