La chute de la maison Samuelson

LONDRES – Lire l’ouvrage intitulé The Samuelson Sampler sous l’angle de la Grande Récession nous offre une plongée dans l’état d’esprit d’une époque révolue. Ces travaux comptent parmi les dernières parutions d’articles hebdomadaires de Paul Samuelson pour la revue Newsweek entre 1966 et 1973.

Le prix Nobel Samuelson fut le doyen des économistes américains : son célèbre manuel intitulé Economics fut publié dans 14 éditions au cours de la vie de l’auteur, inculquant aux futurs économistes du monde entier les rudiments de la discipline. Samuelson fut le principal initiateur, si ce n’est l’unique inspirateur, de la « synthèse néoclassique, » – mélange de néoclassicisme et d’économie keynésienne, qui définit le courant majoritaire en matière d’économie pendant 50 ans.

Samuelson était un keynésien convaincu, dans une mesure toutefois limitée. Il considérait en effet comme inutiles les critiques formulées par Keynes à l’encontre de l’économie orthodoxe, écrivant en effet : « Si Keynes avait formulé [dès le départ] l’hypothèse simple selon laquelle il pensait réaliste de considérer les salaires nominaux… comme fixes et résistants aux mouvements baissiers… la plupart de ses points de vue auraient demeuré valides. » Pour Samuelson, la véritable contribution apportée par Keynes réside dans les outils qu’il a su conférer aux États afin de prévenir les dépressions.

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