L'austérité, une mauvaise solution !

LONDRES – La doctrine consistant à imposer des souffrances dans l'espoir d'en tirer un bénéfice futur a une longue histoire ; elle remonte jusqu'à Adam Smith qui appelait à la "parcimonie". Cette doctrine refait surface en période de crise. En 1930, Andrew Mellon, le secrétaire au Trésor du président américain Herbert Hoover, conseillait à ce dernier de "liquider la main d'oeuvre, liquider les actions, liquider les agriculteurs, liquider l'immobilier. Cela va permettre de dégraisser le système… Les gens mèneront une vie plus conforme à la morale… et ceux qui sont entreprenants utiliseront les débris laissés par les gens moins capables".

Pour les "liquidationnistes" du genre de Mellon, l'économie d'avant-crise (avant 2008) était remplie d'excroissances cancéreuses dans le secteur bancaire, l'immobilier et la Bourse - des excroissances qu'il faut retirer pour permettre le redressement économique. La position des liquidationnistes est claire : l'Etat est un parasite qui suce l'énergie vitale de l'économie de marché - une économie qui tend naturellement vers le plein emploi, notamment après une crise si l'Etat ne l'en empêche pas. C'est pour cela que les liquidationnistes s'opposent avec force à tout interventionnisme keynésien.

A leurs yeux, Keynes commettait une hérésie en niant l'existence de cette force naturelle, au moins à court terme - ce qu'il faisait avec sa célèbre formule : "A long terme nous serons tous morts". Selon Keynes, l'économie peut sombrer dans des périodes prolongées d'équilibre de sous-emploi. Une stimulation externe est alors nécessaire pour la ramener vers le plein emploi.

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