Les rumeurs exagérées de la mort de l’inflation

CAMBRIDGE – L’ère de l’inflation est-elle révolue ? Dans un monde de croissance anémique, de dettes élevées et de grandes tensions sur le plan des inégalités, il est essentiel de savoir si l’inflation est morte ou simplement en état d’hibernation. Il est vrai que de grandes réformes institutionnelles relatives aux banques centrales ont créé des obstacles de taille à l’inflation élevée. Une part importante de la crédibilité d’une banque centrale découle directement de l’environnement macroéconomique plus large dans lequel elle intervient.

Dans la première moitié des années 90, l’inflation annuelle était en moyenne de 40 % en Afrique, de 230 % en Amérique latine et de 300 % pour les économies en transition de l’Europe de l’Est. Et au début des années 1980, l’inflation des économies avancées atteignait en moyenne un niveau de 10 %. De nos jours, la possibilité d’une forte inflation semble si éloignée que la plupart des analystes la traitent comme une curiosité d’ordre théorique, sans plus.

Ils ont tort de le faire. Même si les banques centrales voudraient faire croire que le niveau d’inflation n’est qu’une décision purement technocratique, elle est, en fin de compte, un choix de nature sociale. Certaines des mêmes pressions qui ont contribué à contrer l’inflation dans les deux dernières décennies sont en pleine retraite.

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