La débâcle du plafond sur la dette américaine

NEW YORK – Lorsque la crise de la dette souveraine de la Grèce menaçait la survie de l'euro, les responsables américains avaient appelé leurs homologues européens pour exprimer leur effarement face à leur incapacité à résoudre le problème. Aujourd’hui, la situation a changé : c’est au tour des dirigeants américains de recevoir ces appels. La menace la plus récente d'un défaut sur la dette américaine a été évitée, mais seulement de manière temporaire. Une autre bataille se profile pour le début de l’année prochaine, lorsque le plafond sur la dette du gouvernement américain devra être à nouveau relevé.

En Europe, l'absence d'une union politique – considérée comme une condition nécessaire pour partager des titres de créance et, par conséquent, donner à l'euro sur des bases véritablement saines – est largement reconnue comme l'origine de la crise du continent. Cependant, la crise américaine suggère que l'union politique n'est pas une panacée pour la gestion de la dette souveraine. Pendant des semaines, les républicains de la Chambre des représentants ont menacé de fermer le gouvernement – l’empêchant ainsi d'étendre son pouvoir d'emprunt au-delà de la date limite du 17 octobre – en représailles aux lois qui ont été promulguées par le Congrès dans son ensemble et confirmées par la Cour suprême.

Dans la zone euro, la principale source de désaccord a été la façon dont les dettes ayant un besoin de refinancement ont été contractées – c’est à dire, est-ce qu’elles enfreignaient les limites d'endettement fixées ou non. Aux États-Unis, la pomme de discorde a porté sur l'objectif des fonds en question. La différence est finalement mineure et ne devrait pas permettre d’éclipser ce qui est véritablement en jeu : l'auto-gouvernance démocratique à une ère de dette publique élevée.

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