Une gestion risquée du risque

LONDRES – Les modèles économiques dominants souscrivent à la théorie que les marchés s'autorégulent constamment. La grande idée de cette théorie est que si les salaires et les prix sont totalement flexibles, les ressources seront pleinement employées, ce qui fait que tout choc au système résultera en un ajustement instantané des salaires et des prix à la nouvelle situation.

Cette réactivité totale du système dépend d'une parfaite connaissance du futur par les agents économiques, ce qui bien sûr est absurde. Néanmoins, la majorité des économistes pensent que les acteurs économiques possèdent suffisamment d'informations pour prêter à leur théorie une dose suffisante de réalisme. 

L'aspect de la théorie qui s'applique spécifiquement aux marchés financiers s'appelle "l'hypothèse d'efficience du marché", et aurait du voler en éclats lors de l'effondrement de l'automne dernier. Mais je doute que cela ait été le cas. Il y a soixante dix ans, John Maynard Keynes avait mis en lumière cette faiblesse. Lorsque le système prend de tels chocs, les agents ignorent ce qui peut arriver ensuite. Devant cette incertitude, ils ne procèdent pas à un réajustement de leurs dépenses ; ils limitent plutôt leurs dépenses jusqu'à ce que la situation s'éclaircisse, provoquant un départ en vrille de l'économie.

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