La grande modération

Il y a 20 ans, Alan Greenspan devenait président de la Réserve fédérale américaine. Les années suivantes connurent le taux de croissance du revenu moyen mondial par habitant le plus rapide de l’histoire, et remarquablement peu de déflations génératrices de chômage de masse ou d’inflations destructrices de richesses. Les quinze années de stagnation au Japon et les difficultés de la transition post-communiste furent les seules vraies catastrophes macroéconomiques à atteindre une amplitude qui était tristement fréquente durant les décennies précédentes.

Personne ne s’attendait à cette “grande modération” lorsqu’Alan Greenspan entra en fonction. La politique budgétaire américaine était alors considérablement problématique – beaucoup plus qu’aujourd’hui.

L’Inde paraissait s’embourber dans la stagnation. Il y avait de la croissance en Chine, mais le niveau de vie moyen n’était pas clairement supérieur à celui de “l’âge d’or” chinois du début des années 1950, après la redistribution des terres et avant que la collectivisation forcée ne transforme les paysans en serfs. Le chômage en Europe venait de faire un autre grand bond en avant et les pays “socialistes” étaient si incompatibles avec le développement économique rationnel que leurs systèmes politiques ne tiendraient plus que deux ans avant de s’effondrer. L’Amérique latine était, quant à elle, engluée dans ses propres problèmes après la crise de la dette du début des années 1980.

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