Résoudre la spirale de la dette

CAMBRIDGE – Les responsables de la zone euro continuent de débattre d’une solution de relance de la croissance économique, les dirigeants français et italien préconisant désormais l’assouplissement du très rigide « pacte budgétaire » européen. Pendant ce temps, les dirigeants des États membres du nord de la zone euro ne cessent de faire pression en direction de la mise en œuvre d’une réforme structurelle qu’il s’agirait selon eux d’appliquer plus sérieusement.

Bien qu’il soit idéalement possible que les deux camps obtiennent gain de cause, il est difficile d’entrevoir un dénouement qui ne ferait pas intervenir une démarche significative de restructuration et de rééchelonnement de la dette. L’incapacité des responsables politiques européens d’envisager un tel scénario pèse d’un poids considérable sur la Banque centrale européenne.

Bien qu’il existe de nombreuses explications au caractère poussif de la reprise dans la zone euro, les excès de la dette publique comme privée apparaissent clairement l’entraver. L’endettement brut des ménages et des institutions financières est aujourd’hui plus élevé en tant que part du revenu national qu’il ne l’était antérieurement à la crise financière. La dette des établissements non financiers n’a pour sa part que faiblement diminué. Quant à la dette publique, elle se trouve bien entendu considérablement alourdie par les différents sauvetages bancaires ainsi que par l’important déclin des recettes fiscales, aggravé par la récession.

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