La crainte du « L »

WASHINGTON, DC – Depuis quelques années, les économistes ont parcouru l'alphabet pour décrire la forme de la reprise tant attendue - en commençant par un optimiste V, en passant par un U plus pessimiste, pour finir par un désespérant W. Mais maintenant une inquiétude plus profonde commence à poursuivre la profession : la peur de ce que j'appelle une reprise « en L ».

A la lumière des cinq dernières années lamentables, 2013 n'a pas été mauvaise pour les économies avancées. La zone euro est techniquement sortie de la récession, le taux de chômage aux États-Unis a été plus bas que les années précédentes et le Japon a commencé à se réveiller après un long sommeil et l'onde de choc négative du tremblement de terre et du tsunami de 2011.

Mais si nous y regardons de plus près, il devient évident que nous nous tenons au bord du précipice. Au troisième trimestre de cette année, le PIB a chuté, sur une base annuelle et pas seulement dans les cas bien connus de la Grèce et du Portugal, mais aussi en Italie, en Espagne, aux Pays-Bas et en République tchèque. Et le PIB dans certains pays, comme en France et en Suède, a augmenté à un taux inférieur à la croissance de la population, ce qui implique que le revenu par habitant a diminué.

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