Trou noir dans le PIB américain

CAMBRIDGE – Le grand ralentissement de l'économie américaine durera plus longtemps et aura des conséquences plus graves que les précédentes récessions, car il a pour moteur une perte sans précédent de la richesse des ménages. Même si le train de mesures d'incitation fiscale accepté récemment par le président Obama stimulera temporairement les activités, probablement l'été prochain, les prévisions communes selon lesquelles une reprise durable débutera au deuxième semestre 2009 s’avéreront sûrement excessivement optimistes.

Les précédentes récessions se caractérisaient souvent par une accumulation excessive des stocks et un surinvestissement dans l’équipement professionnel. L’économie pouvait rebondir à mesure que ces excès étaient absorbés, faisant place à de nouveaux investissements. En outre, les réductions des taux d’intérêt par la banque centrale contribuaient aussi aux reprises.

Cette fois, pourtant, la chute du cours des actions et de l’immobilier a détruit plus de 12 billions de dollars de richesse des ménages américains, ce qui équivaut à plus de 75�% du PIB. Les réactions passées aux déclins de richesse des ménages laissent entendre qu’une telle baisse réduira les dépenses des consommateurs d’environ 500 milliards chaque année jusqu’à restauration de la richesse. Alors qu’un taux plus élevé d’épargne des ménages contribuerait à cette restauration, il faudrait plus d’une décennie de taux d’épargne relativement élevés pour retrouver ce qui a été perdu.

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