La poésie de l’euro

PRINCETON – De manière étonnante, les raisons à l’origine de la création d’une monnaie unique ont été dans l’ensemble oubliées par une Europe déchirée par la crise. D’autres préoccupations, plus pressantes, ont pris le dessus, sous forme de spéculations pessimistes sur l’effondrement imminent de la zone euro et de tentatives désespérées de trouver un remède institutionnel à ses graves problèmes de gouvernance.

Mais l’introduction de l’euro ne répondait pas à un désir particulier d’alléger les poches de particuliers emplies de pièces de diverses monnaies nationales ou de faciliter le commerce intra-européen. L’audacieuse aventure européenne reflétait une nouvelle approche concernant le rôle de la monnaie et de la manière dont elle devait être gérée. En choisissant une monnaie « pure », créée par une banque centrale indépendante d’une autorité nationale, les Européens ont volontairement tourné le dos à ce qui était devenu la tradition monétaire dominante.

Au cours du XXe siècle, la création de monnaie – les billets de banque – était généralement perçue comme étant une prérogative des États. L’émission de monnaie était possible parce que les gouvernements avaient le pouvoir de définir l’unité de compte dans laquelle les impôts devaient être payés. Cette tradition est bien antérieure à l’émission de monnaies fiduciaires. Pendant plusieurs siècles, alors que circulait la monnaie métallique, définir l’unité de compte – livres tournois, marks, florins ou dollars – était du ressort de l’État (ou de ceux qui détenaient le pouvoir).

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