Jon Krause

Milton Friedman et le mirage de la puissance magique des marchés

CAMBRIDGE – L’année prochaine marquera le 100° anniversaire de la naissance de Milton Friedman, l’un des grands économistes du 20° siècle, lauréat du prix Nobel, qui a beaucoup contribué à la théorie de la politique monétaire et à l’étude de la fonction de la consommation. Mais il laisse surtout l’image d’un visionnaire qui a donné les armes intellectuelles voulues aux partisans de l’économie de marché durant la deuxième moitié du siècle et de l’éminence grise derrière le retournement spectaculaire de politique économique après 1980.

Alors que le scepticisme quant à l’efficacité des marchés l’emportait largement, il expliquait dans un langage clair que l’entreprise privée est la fondation de la prospérité économique. Toutes les économies qui réussissent sont basées sur la frugalité, le travail et l’initiative individuelle. Il reprochait à la réglementation imposée par l’Etat de freiner l’esprit d’entreprise et d’imposer des limites trop restrictives aux marchés. Milton Friedman a été pour le 20° siècle ce qu’Adam Smith a été pour le 18° siècle.

En 1980, quand sa fameuse série télévisée Free to Choose [Libre de choisir] a été diffusée, l’économie mondiale était en plein remaniement. Inspirés par les idées de Friedman, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher et beaucoup d’autres dirigeants supprimaient les restrictions appliquées aux transactions et démantelaient la réglementation financière élaborées lors des décennies précédentes.

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