Le style paranoïaque en économie

NEW DELHI – Pourquoi les empoignades économiques de grande envergure tournent-elles si vite à des attaques ad hominem ? Peut-être l'exemple récent le plus célèbre a été la polémique du prix Nobel Paul Krugman à l'encontre des économistes Carmen Reinhart et Kenneth Rogoff, dans laquelle il a rapidement évolué de la critique d'une erreur dans un de leurs articles, vers des accusations sur leur devoir de transparence académique.

Pour ceux qui connaissent comme moi ces deux éminents macro-économistes de renommée internationale, il ne fait aucun doute que ces allégations sont sans objet. Néanmoins il reste pourtant à savoir pourquoi le style paranoïaque a pris une telle importance.

Une partie de la réponse tient à ce que l'économie est une science inexacte, qui comporte en effet des exceptions à presque chaque modèle de comportement que les économistes tiennent pour acquis. Par exemple, les économistes prédisent que les prix plus élevés d'un bien réduisent la demande pour ce bien. Mais les étudiants en économie se souviendront sans mal des « biens de Giffen », non conformes au schéma dominant. Quand le prix des tortillas augmente, une ouvrière mexicaine pauvre peut en consommer davantage, car elle doit maintenant réduire la part d'aliments plus chers comme la viande dans son budget.

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