Laissons s'épanouir différents modèles de croissance

Une vision réductrice des fondamentaux théoriques et pratiques qui gouvernent le développement s'est enracinée au cours de ces dernières décennies. Présentée simplement, cette perspective considère que la croissance nécessite deux éléments : de bonnes institutions et une technologie venue de l'étranger. L'incapacité à lancer la croissance peut être attribuée à deux pathologies, agissant ensemble ou séparément. Qu'on appelle la première, celle où les gouvernements empêchent le progrès en réduisant l'accès aux investissements et aux technologies étrangères, la pathologie de la « protection », et l'autre, la pathologie de la « corruption », quand les dirigeants politiques manquent à leurs engagements de respecter les droits de la propriété et l'État de droit.

Il est généralement admis que les remèdes naturels à ces pathologies sont l'ouverture économique et l'amélioration de la gouvernance. Les réformes centrées sur la gouvernance et l'ouverture sont ainsi devenues la pierre d'angle des stratégies de développement dans pratiquement tous les pays ces quinze dernières années.

Pourtant, la réalité cadre mal (dans le meilleur des cas) avec cette conception. Considérons l'Amérique latine, là où l'enthousiasme pour le soi-disant « consensus de Washington » sur la croissance fut plus grand que partout ailleurs dans le monde. Selon les normes de cette vision consensuelle, les décisions prises en Amérique latine s'améliora dans les années 1990 par rapport aux années précédentes, et pourtant, peu de pays de la région ne bénéficièrent d'une meilleure croissance que dans la période précédant les années 1980.

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