Chris Van Es

Les effets pervers de la politique en temps de crise financière

CHICAGO – En essayant de comprendre les méthodes et le moment choisis par les gouvernements pour intervenir en période de crise financière, il est probable que nous conclurons en paraphrasant le philosophe français Blaise Pascal : la politique a ses raisons que la raison économique ne connaît point.

Sur le plan économique, le problème est simple. Dès que la solvabilité d'un emprunteur souverain se détériore suffisamment, sa survie dépend alors des attentes du marché. Si dans l'esprit de la plupart des gens, l'Italie est solvable, elle trouvera prêteur à faible taux d'intérêt, car elle est en mesure de respecter ses obligations existantes et fort probablement ses obligations futures. Mais si le moindre doute s'installe quant à sa solvabilité, les prêteurs exigent une prime élevée sur ses emprunts, le déficit fiscal empire et le pays entre très certainement en défaut.

De quoi dépend le sort d'un emprunteur comme l'Italie qui peut se retrouver au sein d'attentes positives ou se précipiter dans un scénario cauchemardesque? Bien souvent d'une « conjonction d'évènements ». En effet, l'anticipation générale d'une décote de crédit de l'Italie rendra son endettement intenable et le pays sera techniquement en défaut à l'annonce de la décote indépendamment de ses effets économiques réels. C'est le fléau de ce que nous économistes appelons l'équilibre multiple : dès qu'on pressent que d'autres s'apprêtent à se ruer vers la sortie, la meilleure stratégie est de courir également; mais si personne ne bouge, courir ne sert à rien.

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