Les Dernières nouveautés en économie

La Grande dépression propulsa John Maynard Keynes sur le devant de la scène de la pensée économique. Selon Keynes, l'investissement privé est par nature instable du fait des modes et des engouements passagers chez les investisseurs, du fait des changements dans « l'esprit animal » des hommes d'affaire ou encore parce que la chute des prix bouleverse le système économique.

Les keynésiens croyaient que les politiques monétaires prudentes (les banques centrales relevant ou baissant les taux d'intérêt pour diminuer les fluctuations de l'investissement privé) pouvaient participer à la stabilisation de l'économie. Mais ils croyaient aussi que le gouvernement devait accepter de s'impliquer directement, avec des politiques fiscales généreuses, pour maintenir le niveau général des dépenses dans une économie stable. Une telle politique, pensaient-ils, bannirait à jamais le spectre du chômage de masse à grande échelle, comme cela fut le cas durant la Grande dépression. De plus, elle pouvait aussi éventuellement garantir le plein emploi de manière efficace.

Ils prévoyaient que le quasi plein emploi ferait monter la menace de l'inflation. Après tout, pourquoi les ouvriers et les syndicats devraient-ils modérer leurs exigences salariales si les gouvernements soutiennent les dépenses à chaque fois que la menace du chômage gronde ? Une restriction importante des exigences pour des salaires élevés (la peur d'être licencié quand le chômage s'élèvera) avait ainsi sauté. Qu'est-ce qui pouvait la remplacer ?

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