La fin de la globalisation (la première et la deuxième) et la cause de la Grande Dépression aux USA



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Nombre d’articles et d’analyses s’attachent, aujourd’hui, à une question simple : “sommes-nous à la fin du processus de globalisation ?” Ce serait historiquement la seconde fois. De façon très caractéristique et somme toute logique, le débat sur la fin de la (seconde) globalisation (version XXIème siècle) se réfère historiquement aux événements qui ont causé la fin de la (première) globalisation, avec l’accent mis sur une loi passée au printemps 1930 aux Etats-Unis, alors que ce pays entrait, ou allait entrer, — c’est le fond de ce débat historique, — dans la Grande Dépression.

On appréciera les différences d’interprétation importantes dans deux articles parus à trois jours d’intervalle les 10 et 13 avril (avec republication le 20 avril pour le second)

• Le 10 avril 2006, dans le Los Angeles Times, l’historien anglais Niall Ferguson publie : « Globalization's second death? — U.S. protectionist measures helped wreck the world economy in the '30s. We can't let that happen again. »

• Le 13 avril 2006, sur le site YaleGlobal.Online, l’économiste Thomas Palley publie : « Could Globalization Fail? — Policies that spawn economic inequality rather than free trade could bring about an economic crisis ». (Signe particulièrement révélateur: l’article de Palley est repris dans l’International Herald Tribune de ce jour)

Ferguson présente de cette façon la fin de la première globalisation : « The last time globalization died, some historians say, it was an American backlash that killed it. A century ago, the world economy was in many ways just as integrated as it is today. Migration rates were comparably high, as was trade in relation to output. Capital flows today are bigger in relative terms, but a century ago they were more evenly distributed between rich and poor countries. After 1914, however, globalization fell apart, and by the 1930s the world economy had fragmented — with disastrous consequences for growth and employment.

» The great disruption caused by World War I certainly did a large part of the damage, sinking thousands of tons of merchant shipping and severing international telegraph cables. Even before war came, however, globalization was already dying the death of a thousand legislative cuts. As early as 1882, the United States had introduced the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first of a series of measures designed to restrict immigration to white Europeans. Quotas for other ethnic groups were introduced between the wars so that by the mid-1930s, the flow of new immigrants to the U.S. had all but dried up.

» The same was true of trade. Never wholly committed to free trade in the 19th century, the United States sharply raised tariffs between the wars. The protectionist Smoot-Hawley trade bill that was enacted in June 1930 dealt a lethal blow to business confidence, compounding the damage done by the Wall Street crash. »

Thoma Palley, maintenant (il est intéressant de noter que le paragraphe ci-après figure dans la version initiale, le texte de YaleGlobal Online, mais pas dans la version parue dans l’International Herald Tribune):

« Finally, if the global economy crashes, it will be important to correctly identify the economic causes. The Smoot-Hawley tariff was passed in June 1930. Its economic effects were minor for the US given the pre-existing high tariff structure and the minimal extent of US engagement in trade. Indeed, those effects may even have been beneficial in that spending switched from imports to domestically produced goods. Yet, for 75 years, free traders have sought to blame Smoot-Hawley for the Depression and thereby make a case for free trade. The rooster crows at dawn, but does not cause the sunrise. Smoot-Hawley did not cause the Depression. Likewise, trade stalemate and failure of the Doha trade round will not cause the next economic crisis. However, they may coincide, in which event rest assured that globalization boosters will argue causation. »

Mis en ligne le 20 avril 2006 à 07H01