Pour ceux qui n'iraient pas lire l'article, ça s'appelle "Why capitalism fails" (en VF, "pourquoi le capitalisme s'effondre"), et c'est un article du Boston Globe de dimanche dernier, basé sur les travaux d'un obscur économiste des années 80, Minsky.
Le Boston Globe n'est pas la référence qu'est le New-York Times, mais appartient au même groupe, est le premier quotidien de la Nouvelle-Angleterre avec un tirage d'environ 500000 exemplaires, et a reçu 18 Pulitzer depuis son lancement en 1872: bref, c'est un journal sérieux, très ancré démocrate (mais un démocrate, ça croit à l'économie de marché et à la libre entreprise), comme à peu près toute la Nouvelle-Angleterre. J'en donne quelques extraits plus bas.
Si même les américains commencent à se poser ce genre de questions (ou pire encore, à admettre ce postulat comme un état de fait et à en chercher les raisons), ça veut soit dire:
- que c'est vraiment la fin.
- que "ça" va changer bientôt...
Je pencherais pour la première solution, mais je garde un peu d'espoir pour la seconde. En attendant, je vais peut-être essayer de trouver le bouquin de Minsky.
Extraits de l'article:
Hyman Minsky is a hitherto obscure macroeconomist who died over a decade ago. Many economists had never heard of him when the crisis struck, and he remains a shadowy figure in the profession. But lately he has begun emerging as perhaps the most prescient big-picture thinker about what, exactly, we are going through. A contrarian amid the conformity of postwar America, an expert in the then-unfashionable subfields of finance and crisis, Minsky was one economist who saw what was coming. He predicted, decades ago, almost exactly the kind of meltdown that recently hammered the global economy.
In recent months Minsky’s star has only risen. Nobel Prize-winning economists talk about incorporating his insights, and copies of his books are back in print and selling well. He’s gone from being a nearly forgotten figure to a key player in the debate over how to fix the financial system.
But if Minsky was as right as he seems to have been, the news is not exactly encouraging. He believed in capitalism, but also believed it had almost a genetic weakness. Modern finance, he argued, was far from the stabilizing force that mainstream economics portrayed: rather, it was a system that created the illusion of stability while simultaneously creating the conditions for an inevitable and dramatic collapse.
Minsky called his idea the “Financial Instability Hypothesis.” In the wake of a depression, he noted, financial institutions are extraordinarily conservative, as are businesses. With the borrowers and the lenders who fuel the economy all steering clear of high-risk deals, things go smoothly: loans are almost always paid on time, businesses generally succeed, and everyone does well. That success, however, inevitably encourages borrowers and lenders to take on more risk in the reasonable hope of making more money. As Minsky observed, “Success breeds a disregard of the possibility of failure.”
As people forget that failure is a possibility, a “euphoric economy” eventually develops, fueled by the rise of far riskier borrowers - what he called speculative borrowers, those whose income would cover interest payments but not the principal; and those he called “Ponzi borrowers,” those whose income could cover neither, and could only pay their bills by borrowing still further. As these latter categories grew, the overall economy would shift from a conservative but profitable environment to a much more freewheeling system dominated by players whose survival depended not on sound business plans, but on borrowed money and freely available credit.
Once that kind of economy had developed, any panic could wreck the market. The failure of a single firm, for example, or the revelation of a staggering fraud could trigger fear and a sudden, economy-wide attempt to shed debt. This watershed moment - what was later dubbed the “Minsky moment” - would create an environment deeply inhospitable to all borrowers. The speculators and Ponzi borrowers would collapse first, as they lost access to the credit they needed to survive. Even the more stable players might find themselves unable to pay their debt without selling off assets; their forced sales would send asset prices spiraling downward, and inevitably, the entire rickety financial edifice would start to collapse. Businesses would falter, and the crisis would spill over to the “real” economy that depended on the now-collapsing financial system.
Minsky’s solution was radical and less palatable politically. Minsky argued for a “bubble-up” approach, sending money to the poor and unskilled first. The government should become the “employer of last resort,” he said, offering a job to anyone who wanted one at a set minimum wage. It would be paid to workers who would supply child care, clean streets, and provide services that would give taxpayers a visible return on their dollars. Such a program would not only help the poor and unskilled, he believed, but would put a floor beneath everyone else’s wages too, preventing salaries of more skilled workers from falling too precipitously, and sending benefits up the socioeconomic ladder.
While economists may be acknowledging some of Minsky’s points on financial instability, it’s safe to say that even liberal policymakers are still a long way from thinking about such an expanded role for the American government. If nothing else, an expensive full-employment program would veer far too close to socialism for the comfort of politicians.
En bref, il semble que du gros bon sens et un peu d'anthropomorphise appliqué au système capitaliste (confiance et arrogance sont des sentiments proches l'un de l'autre, et plus on a avec raison confiance en soi parce que tout réussit, plus on est susceptible de devenir arrogant et de finir par échouer) ait suffi à Minsky pour "deviner" très précisément ce qui allait se passer.
L'économie en tant que science ressemblant à mon goût tout de même un peu à la technique dite du doigt mouillé, il se peut qu'il ait simplement été chanceux, ou le seul mec un peu pessimiste au milieu de gars qui ne sentaient plus pisser après 30 ans à se gaver.
Mais il se peut aussi bêtement qu'il ait vraiment tout compris, et que donc sa solution marche aussi. Malheureusement, c'est une solution "socialiste" donc autant dire que c'est pas demain qu'elle sera mise en oeuvre.