Les quatre sophismes de la seconde grande dépression

LONDRES – La période écoulée depuis 2008 a vu formulées un incroyable recyclage d’idées reçues, toutes plus erronées les unes que les autres, autour de la question économique, émanant le plus souvent de la bouche des dirigeants politiques. Permettez-moi de vous citer quatre des sophismes qui ont le plus retenu mon attention.

L’économie de la ménagère souabe. « Nous aurions dû demander conseil à la ménagère souabe, » a en effet déclaré la chancelière allemande Angela Merkel à la suite de l’effondrement de Lehman Brothers en 2008. « Elle nous aurait rappelé cet adage selon lequel nul ne peut vivre au-dessus de ses moyens. »

C’est là la prétendue logique raisonnable invoquée en appui de l’austérité. Seulement voilà, ce raisonnement fait fi des conséquences du comportement économe de cette ménagère sur la demande globale. Si l’ensemble des ménages réduisaient leurs dépenses, la consommation totale s’effondrerait, de même que la demande en main-d’œuvre. Et si par malheur l’époux de la ménagère venait à perdre son emploi, les finances du foyer s’en trouveraient d’autant plus menacées.

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