La Banque centrale de qui ?

BERKELEY – D'une manière générale, depuis au moins 115 ans (et peut-être plus) – soit au moins depuis la publication de l'ouvrage Geldzins und Güterpreis en 1898 (Intérêt et Prix) par l'économiste suédois Knut Wicksell - les économistes sont divisés en deux camps sur la question de la définition et des prérogatives d'une banque centrale.

Le premier camp, que l'on appellera le camp des banques, considère qu'une banque centrale est une banque pour les banquiers. Ses clients sont les banques. C'est un endroit vers lequel les banques se tournent pour emprunter de l'argent quand elles en ont vraiment besoin et ses fonctions consistent à aider le secteur bancaire pour que les banques puissent faire leurs propres profits et mènent à bien leurs affaires privées. La banque centrale doit surtout s'assurer que la masse monétaire soit assez étendue pour éviter que le simple manque de liquidités, sinon l'insolvabilité, ne contraigne les banques à la faillite et à la liquidation.

L'autre camp, que l'on appellera le camp macroéconomique, considère que les banques centrales sont les gardiens de l'économie dans son ensemble. Le travail de la banque centrale consiste à faire respecter dans la pratique la loi de Say - le principe selon lequel la production est compensée par la demande, avec ni trop peu de demande pour acheter ce qui est produit (ce qui provoquerait le chômage), ni trop (ce qui provoquerait l'inflation) - parce que la loi de Say n'est pas tout à fait certaine en théorie. En d'autres termes, la responsabilité principale de la Banque centrale n'est pas de préserver la santé des entreprises qui composent le secteur bancaire, mais plutôt de maintenir le bon fonctionnement de l'économie dans son ensemble.

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