Le spectre de la Grande Dépression, plus que jamais

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Le spectre de la Grande Dépression, plus que jamais

L’économiste Robert Reich, qui représente (avec Krugman) la frange la plus extrémiste des interventionnistes rooseveltiens et keynésiens dans le débat US sur la situation économique, fait flèche de tous bois. Il faut dire que les événements économiques, surtout le chômage, lui donnent des arguments de plus en plus tranchants. Pour Reich, les USA ne sont pas menacés d’une nouvelle phase de la crise, ils ne sont simplement jamais sortis de la crise depuis septembre 2008. Désormais la vraie référence de la Grande Dépression (celle qui dura au moins de 1931 à 1941) est celle qui convient à la situation. (Sur RobertReich.org le 14 août 2010 et sur Huffington.post le 14 août 2010.)

«It’s nonsense to think of the economy heading downward again into a double dip when most Americans never emerged from the first dip. We’re still in one long Big Dipper.

»More people are out of work today than they were last year, counting everyone too discouraged even to look for work. The number of workers filing new claims for jobless benefits rose last week to highest level since February. Not counting temporary census workers, a total of only 12,000 net new private and public jobs were created in July — when 125,000 are needed each month just to keep up with growth in the population of people who want and need to work.

»Not since the government began to measure the ups and downs of the busines cycle has such a deep recession been followed by such anemic job growth. Jobs came back at a faster pace even in March 1933 after the economy started to “recover” from the depths of the Great Depression. Of course, that job growth didn’t last long. That recovery wasn’t really a recovery at all. The Great Depression continued. And that’s exactly my point. The Great Recession continues. […]

»The central problem is lack of demand — and that’s what has to be tackled.

»Three of the four sources of demand have stopped working. (1) Consumers can’t and won’t buy because they’re still under a huge debt load, can’t get more credit, are afraid of losing their jobs (or already have), depend on two wage earners at least one of whom is working part-time and pulling in less, or have to save. (2) Businesses won’t invest and spend on creating more jobs if they don’t see consumers willing to buy more. (3) Exports are stalled because the dollar is so high they cost too much, much of the rest of the world is still struggling with recession, and American firms can make things for sale abroad more cheaply abroad.

»That leaves only one remaining source of demand — government. We need a giant jobs program to hire people and put money in their pockets that they’ll spend and thereby create more jobs. Put ideology aside and recognize this fact. If it makes you more comfortable call it the National Defense Jobs Act. Call it the WPA. Call it Chopped Liver. Whatever, we have to get the great army of the unemployed and underemployed working again.»

On complétera ce tableau par un article de WSWS.org, plus technique, dressant un blian chiffré des nouvelles catastrophiques de la semaine qui vien de s’écrouler aux USA. (Le 14 août 2010 également).

«Reports released this week on initial applications for jobless benefits, bank seizures of foreclosed homes and retail sales all reflect a dramatic decline in US economic growth and growing social distress.

»On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that first-time jobless claims rose by 2,000 last week to 484,000, the third weekly rise in the past month and the highest level in six months. As has been the case with virtually all US economic data in recent weeks, the figures defied the more optimistic forecasts of economists. They had predicted jobless filings would fall by 14,000.

»The four-week moving average of unemployment benefits claims also rose, increasing by 14,250 to 473,500. Most economists believe that weekly initial claims above 400,000 reflect an unhealthy economy that is generating too few jobs to keep pace with the normal growth of the labor force.

»According to the Financial Times, Joshua Shapiro, chief US economist at MFR, noted that the current level of claims is consistent with an economy that is shedding 200,000 jobs a month. Last week, the Labor Department reported that US payrolls shrank by 131,000 in July. The jobless claims figures suggest that the jobless rate will likely rise above the current official level of 9.5 percent.

»The Associated Press reported that Pierre Ellis, an economist at Decision Economics, wrote in a note to clients that Thursday’s unemployment claims report “represents a very adverse turn in the labor market, threatening income growth and consumer spending.”»

Reich termine son commentaire par une attaque contre les adversaires de l’interventionnisme, les “néo-Hooveristes” comme il les appelle (du nom du président des USA de 1929 à 1933). Il s’agit bien entendu des républicains mais aussi d’une partie des démocrates, qui s’opposent aux dépenses du gouvernement, et donc à son intervention contre le chômage. «If we let the deficit hawks and government haters dominate this debate, as they have, the Big Dipper will continue for years. The Great Depression lasted twelve.»



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