Perfect Losers

LONDON – Les théories économiques n’ont que peu d’explication à nous offrir sur la crise économique actuelle. Le précédent président de la Réserve fédérale américaine, Alan Greespan en personne, vient d’admettre que les récents événements ont fait voler en éclats tout son édifice intellectuel.

En fouillant ces éclats, on peut quand même encore en sauver quelques bribes. L’une d’elles s’appelle “l'asymétrie de l'information,” et se résume au fait que certaines personnes sont plus informées que d’autres sur certains sujets. Cette idée n’a peut-être pas l’air d’une découverte, mais voyez ce qu’elle donne avec le couple acheteur-vendeur. Supposez que celui qui a un produit à vendre en connaisse mieux les qualités que l’acheteur, ou l’inverse. Cette idée donne lieu à des prolongements intéressants, si intéressants qu’elle a valu à ses inventeurs le Nobel d’économie.

En 1970 est paru un célèbre article intitulé “The Market for Lemons” de George Akerlof, dont la démonstration porte sur le marché des voitures d’occasion. L’acheteur ne sait pas si on lui vend de la camelote ou une bonne voiture. Il fait le pari qu’il s’agit d’une bonne voiture qui ne lui coûtera qu’une somme raisonnable. Ceux qui ont de bonnes voitures à revendre, ne pouvant en tirer le prix qu’ils pourraient en attendre, renoncent à les mettre sur le marché. Et la qualité moyenne des voitures d’occasion baisse. Le toc évince le top.

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