Une vertu prématurée

NEW YORK – L’accent mis par l’administration Obama sur la rectitude fiscale n’est pas dicté par une nécessité financière, mais par des considérations politiques. Les Etats-Unis ne sont pas l’un des pays fortement endettés d’Europe, qui doivent payer des primes de risque élevées sur le prix des emprunts allemands. Les taux d’intérêts sur les bons du Trésor américains sont en baisse constante et sont bientôt à un plus bas historique, ce qui signifie que les marchés s’attendent à une déflation, pas à de l’inflation.

Il n’en reste pas moins que le président Obama est soumis à des pressions politiques. L’opinion publique est extrêmement inquiète de l’accumulation de la dette publique et l’opposition républicaine est parvenue avec succès à attribuer le krach de 2008 – et la récession et le taux de chômage important qui s’ensuivirent – à l’incompétence du gouvernement, tout en affirmant que le plan de relance avait été en grande partie gaspillé.

Il y a une part de vrai dans cette affirmation, mais elle est biaisée. Le krach de 2008 a eu pour cause principale un effondrement des marchés, et les autorités de réglementation américaines (et d’autres) en portent la responsabilité pour ne pas avoir su agir à temps. Mais sans renflouage, le système financier serait resté paralysé et la récession subséquente aurait été plus profonde et plus longue. Il est néanmoins vrai que le plan de relance a été en grande partie gaspillé, mais c’est parce qu’il a surtout servi à soutenir la consommation au lieu d’être utilisé pour corriger les déséquilibres sous-jacents.

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