La réserve fédérale à une époque pour colombes

CAMBRIDGE – La bataille est lancée pour remplacer le président actuel de la Réserve fédérale américaine Ben Bernanke. On pourrait s'attendre à ce que la présidence de la Fed – sans doute le deuxième poste officiel le plus puissant aux Etats-Unis, et certainement le rôle financier le plus puissant du monde – soit déterminée par un conclave de banquiers centraux. En fait, le choix est en grande partie à la discrétion du président américain. Considérons donc deux des principaux candidats, Lawrence Summers, ancien secrétaire américain au Trésor, et l’actuel vice-président de la Fed, Janet Yellen.

Aussi bien Summers que Yellen sont des universitaires brillants avec une vaste expérience dans le service public. Bien que la presse grand public semble vouloir explorer leurs candidatures comme un concours entre des personnalités contrastées, le fait est que les deux candidats sont extrêmement bien qualifiés. En outre, les deux ont la réputation de penser que la Fed ne devrait pas accorder une importance excessive à la stabilité des prix par rapport au chômage. Normalement, ce biais accommodant serait un handicap ; aujourd'hui, c'est un avantage.

L'importance des compétences techniques en matière de politique monétaire a été prouvée à maintes reprises par les banques centrales du monde entier. Selon la recherche publiée en 2003 par les économistes Christina Romer et David Romer, la qualité de la politique monétaire dépend de manière critique de combien les banquiers centraux détiennent une compréhension claire et nuancée de l'élaboration de politiques et du phénomène de l’inflation. Les années 1920, 1930 et 1970 regorgent d'exemples de banquiers centraux qui ne comprenaient pas les fondements et dont les économies en ont payé le prix.

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