Cette page regroupe l'ensemble des publications de Futuribles sur cette thématique (Vigie, revue, bibliographie, études, etc.)
The upturn in economic growth in France since 1997, a few years later than in the United States, has been interpreted in a number of different ways. For many observers, it suggests the start of a new phase of expansion, following logically, as required by the Kondratiev cycles, on the "Thirty Lean Years" that succeeded the post-war period of growth.
According to many enthusiastic believers in the Kondratiev function, our economies are subject to phases of expansion and then of less rapid growth occurring inevitably, no matter what we do, every 50 years; the present upturn is supposedly stimulated by a favourable international environment and the coming-of-age of the information and communications technologies.
Éric Bosserelle argues that this is a crass and wrongheaded interpretation of the theories of Nicolaï Kondratiev, who was interested only in long-term fluctuations in prices and never claimed to construct a theory that would be able to explain the past, let alone predict future patterns of economic growth.
Bosserelle reminds us of some essential truths about Kondratiev's work, the somewhat fragile empirical basis for it and the long-term fluctuations that he brought to light. He demonstrates the advantages as well as the limits of the theories, including those that arose from the particular circumstances of the period Kondratiev studied.
He therefore stresses that the Kondratiev cycles are concerned with the dynamics of prices of basic products over the long term, a concern that is unfortunately completely or partially overlooked by modern theories, none of which has managed to deal convincingly with a key question: the recurrence of cycles lasting half a century. Consequently, Éric Bosserelle concludes, it would be as well to remain cautious with regard to certain fashionable viewpoints which suggest that our economies are going to develop according to unalterable laws.
Face à un constat qui ne peut qu'être pessimiste (depuis 40 ans - date de l'accession à l'indépendance - la plupart des pays africains n'a pas connu d'élévation de leur niveau de vie ni d'amélioration de la situation des droits de l'homme, au contraire), ce nouveau numéro de la revue de la Société de Stratégie réunit des auteurs, personnalités africaines politiques comme Abdoulaye Wade, Président du Sénégal, chef d'entreprise (Paul K. Fokam) ou avocat ...
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Economics is the only discipline, among the social sciences at least, which tries to be both descriptive and normative. In fact, however, as it is often difficult to find corroboration from empirical observations, economics tends to fall back on a theoretical approach; economic recommendations are rarely robust or consensual, and ultimately have little impact on decision-making.
To counter such criticisms, Quinet and Walliser focus on the field of transport, which is a special area of study within economics. They discuss three examples:
- transport of goods, which has been relatively well studied by economists, but their recommendations have tended to be blocked by vested interests, clinging to the status quo, even though the existing situation may be contrary to the collective interest as well as to their own interests in the long term;
- management of urban transport infrastructures, where -once again- "expert" opinion comes up against the inertia of institutions that fight to retain their position and defend their privileges;
- control of urban traffic flows, a particularly delicate matter, where opinions are divided and recommendations, once again, are thwarted by the lack of a common stance, with everyone concerned acting in accordance with their own particular logic.
As transport economists, are Émile Quinet and Bernard Walliser simply disappointed that their advice is not followed? No, they start by taking a critical look at their own field. "The models cannot cope with the diversity of the real world: every situation is unusual, there is no such thing as an average user, a representative firm or a standard cost." The measures proposed are "too blind and clumsy, and fail to reach their targets". Transport economists do not, above all, take sufficient account of the way the actors operate.
The authors conclude with some suggestions for ways in which economics might make progress. But they harbour no illusions: economists recommend change. For this to occur, their recommendations must chime with what the decision-makers want, something that the economists cannot determine...
Les places financières ne restent pas étrangères à la mondialisation économique. En effet, les dernières années témoignent d'un large mouvement de concentration des Bourses internationales. Va-t-on alors vers une place mondiale unique ? Avant de répondre à cette question, Frédéric Lelièvre montre d'abord que les principales places financières sont aujourd'hui devenues des entreprises comme les autres. Elles vendent néanmoins un bien particulier, l'accès à un marché, ce qui crée des conflits d'intérêt. Dans le même temps ...
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La banque apparaît aujourd'hui dans une situation contradictoire : d'un côté elle témoigne du pouvoir de la finance, comme le montrent les méga-fusions des dernières années, de l'autre, son activité est devenue de plus en plus « contestable » (au sens de la théorie des marché contestables de W. Baumol). La déréglementation et la désintermédiation, ainsi que l'apparition de la concurrence en ligne modifient profondément le métier de la banque. Malgré cette mutation, la banque préserve une place privilégiée ...
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Anne de Beer and Gérard Blanc comment here on a recent study by the BIPE on the impact of the information and communications technologies (ICTs) on growth, productivity and employment.
We know that over two decades the investments in ICTs seem not to have had a major impact on productivity and employment -hence Solow's famous paradox: "computers are everywhere except in the statistics". Perhaps, suggest the authors, this is because the introduction of these technologies required a considerable effort of organizational and sociocultural adaptation and innovation which occurred slowly.
According to the BIPE, however, the impact of the ICTs appears to have been clearly positive, first in the United States since the mid 1990s, slightly later in France. Not only did these technologies constitute an extremely dynamic sector but, in addition, they encouraged the whole range of economic activities and therefore had a major multiplier effect on growth, productivity and employment.
Basing its study on the structure of the French economy in 1998, the BIPE attempted to estimate the multiplier effect that the ICTs might have on the French economy between now and 2003. This article briefly reviews these simulations, which are quite promising.
"The classical theory of free trade is based on the idea that free trade combined with competition will increase the welfare of all parties in the exchange." In short, that trade is a positive sum game and therefore any barriers to international trade can only harm overall welfare.
Olivier Godard argues here that this theory breaks down with regard to the environment. It assumes that all the elements in the cost of producing goods -in particular their adverse effects on the environment- are internalized by the producers. But in practice this is not true. Godard offers suggestions of what improvements therefore need to be made.
He starts by examining how to reconcile -by making some corrective adjustments- free trade and protection of the environment, in line with the source of the externalities (consumption patterns or methods of production) and their nature (local or global). But he then argues that the resulting typology is of limited value and cannot cope with the appearance of health and environmental risks that have not been verified scientifically, so that what matters in practice is the principle of risk aversion and how it is applied.
Some people may not find the arguments easy reading. But they undoubtedly address a key issue: how to adapt -perhaps change- the rules of free trade to take account of the new requirements related to protecting the environment or, to put it another way, how to restore a concern with the long term to the rules of international trade, to ensure both that they are respected and yet not wrongly exploited for protectionist reasons.
The article is not just about the national and international public bodies -the World Trade Organization in particular- but also about businesses facing the problems of where to locate their activities and how to remain competitive in world markets.
With the Internet and the spread of the information and communication technologies (ITCs), one noticed the emergence (especially in the United States of America) of the concept of a "Net-economy", as well as the one, broader, of a "new economy". Their advocates argue that we would have entered a new era, characterized by a technological and economic paradigm that would be totally different from the former.
Frédéric Teulon first indicates what this concept of a "new economy" means, and explains how the idea could emerge that the growth of the ITCs -as well as those of the rail in the XIXth century and of the electricity and the car in the XXth - can signify a new era. The author wonders how it could denote that we would be now at the beginning of a new upswing in the Kondratieff cycle. In this regard, he points out the effective improvements accomplished, despite the delay justifying Solow's paradox -computers can be seen everywhere except in the productivity rate- and due to the deep restructuring of the American productive system.
But, even if technological innovation is patent and if information now represents the main factor of wealth, it does not necessarily mean that the past economic rules are outdated. Frédéric Teulon, through various examples, demonstrates that on the contrary these remain really relevant: the ITCs do not imply the end of the big firm, of the market economy (vs. economy of the free), of integration, of the risk of inflation...
It is important not to be deluded by the takeoff of the Nasdaq -Nasdaq which has lost half its value since March 2000... Many start-ups will be bankrupt... All this is normal: the "new economy" functions in the same way as the old; if technical improvement permitted growth, the fact remains that the problematic of development is much more complex than what is explained by those who want to present a univocal answer. Economic, fiscal and monetary policies, for instance, remain as far important.
Everyone agrees that poverty is dreadful and that its eradication should be a top priority. Yet while knowledge is recognized to be the greatest form of wealth for today's societies, enormous inequalities are developing not just in financial terms but also in access to knowledge.
Xavier Godinot sets out here to show that there are different sorts of knowledge: theoretical knowledge, which is often the most highly valued -and is indeed the basis for a process of segregation- but also knowledge related to living and acting, not to mention spiritual knowledge, which is probably shared more equitably but which is harder to express, recognize and turn to good account.
The fight against poverty cannot be limited to efforts that allow a few to escape from want while others are relegated to the categories of disabled and unemployable. Nor cannot it succeed by relying on pseudo-training courses in which noble "manipulators of symbols" claim to instruct the poor, or by maintaining a two-tier system of training and job placement that merely reinforces inequalities, especially given that the educational system cannot on its own remedy the differences in family background.
Echoing the philosopher Michel Serres, Godinot stresses that "the fight against poverty and social exclusion does indeed involve the acquisition of knowledge [...] but it is above all about recognizing kinds of knowledge that are not valued", especially the kinds of knowledge related to living and acting that poor people have, and which need to be linked with theoretical types of knowledge.
Using as an example the experience gained in the "Quart Monde Université" programme, Godinot shows how it is possible, by bringing together poor people, social workers and academics against a background of mutual respect, for everyone to learn from everyone else and for the whole group to make progress - progress towards greater understanding of the processes whereby people become poor and excluded; progress towards the process of empowering the least fortunate in society.
Xavier Godinot is thus not content with denouncing poverty; he describes here a promising way forward based not on aid but on partnership, a partnership that ultimately enriches everyone involved, from the richest to the poorest.
Nous voici, en ce début de l'année 2001, à nouveau confrontés en France à deux enjeux qui, paradoxalement, demeurent traités de manière distincte : celui des perspectives d'emploi et celui de l'avenir des retraites.
Taking as his starting-point a recent article by Richard Thaler on the future of economics, Alain Michel launches a vigorous attack on "economic science" which is interested only in homo oeconomicus with his supposedly rational behaviour, and pleads instead for "political economy" which is concerned with homo sapiens as a being also motivated by emotions, sensitivity, perhaps with a soul.
He shows how economists, utterly convinced of the scientific nature of their work, have managed to create a form of economics that is heavily mathematical and nothing to do with the real world -an approach that is admittedly not without interest, but its claims to objectivity are exaggerated and it lacks real descriptive force.
He points out that human beings are not bloodless agents who act in a purely rational way, so that their actions cannot be understood without combining the branches of knowledge that have been artificially separated in the name of science. He is therefore highly critical of the current scientism, and in fact highlights its limits; instead he argues passionately in favour of a more interdisciplinary approach that is better suited to an understanding of homo sapiens, who for that matter is a more congenial being.
Edmond Malinvaud offers us here a masterly economics lecture on the subject of employment. It is in three parts: the first concentrates on the lessons of the past, the second looks at the prospects and issues between now and 2010, and the third examines the priorities that should govern French economic policy.
First of all he surveys the developments observed in the course of recent decades, stressing in particular the increasing levels of unemployment up to 1996, which he blames not so much on the frequently cited rigidities of French society as on rapid wage increases which were halted belatedly by a strong economic policy.
Then, observing that the French economy managed to generate 1.6 million jobs in the last four years as a result of a more favourable economic climate and an interventionist public policy, Malinvaud reflects on the prospects for economic growth, including those caused by the boom in new technologies and, above all, on the future increases in productivity -the factors boosting and holding it back- and the likelihood of a new situation of full employment, including the possible level of structural unemployment.
Along the way he stresses the risks of inflation and argues the need both for a "carefully judged macroeconomic policy" and for a reform of the welfare state so as to avoid, in particular, the traps of unemployment and low activity rates.
In the end, Edmond Malinvaud highlights the priorities that French economic policy ought to adopt if it is to achieve a better balance henceforth between economic and social concerns, and between efficiency and fairness.
Cet ouvrage collectif, complet et précis, résulte d'un colloque tenu à Tunis en juin 2000 sur l'interaction entre ouverture internationale et développement économique. Après la décennie 1980-1990, où les vertus des politiques de promotion des exportations et d'ouverture aux investissements directs à l'étranger (IDE) semblaient faire consensus au point de guider les programmes imposés par les principales institutions internationales, la question du lien entre ouverture et développement est reposée, ici, avec un souci d'objectivité et ...
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Basé à Bangkok, l'Institut de recherche sur l'Asie du Sud-Est contemporaine (IRASEC) appartient au réseau des centres de recherche du ministère français des Affaires étrangères. Faisant appel à des scientifiques issus de tous horizons, il mène à bien des projets de recherche sur les grandes questions politiques, économiques, sociales et environnementales qui concernent la région. Au cœur de celle-ci, la Thaïlande est particulièrement méconnue. Depuis les années 1950, le pays a pourtant porté une croissance remarquable. Certes, la ...
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Les bouleversements de l'histoire de l'humanité ont souvent eu pour origine la découverte de nouveaux territoires. Or, à notre époque, il n'y a plus de continent à découvrir. Et pourtant la vie politique, économique, sociale, ne cesse d'être bouleversée. En réalité, un nouveau continent est en train de se développer, fluide et sans frontières. Les barrières s'effacent entre les nations et les régions, entre les entreprises, entre les gouvernements et les organisations non gouvernementales. Les ...
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En 1986, le VI ème Congrès du Parti communiste vietnamien, en adoptant la stratégie du dôi moi (« changer pour faire du neuf »), a signifié sa volonté d'ouverture économique et a officiellement reconnu l'économie de marché. Depuis ces réformes, la petite entreprise privée s'est imposée comme un acteur clef de l'essor économique vietnamien. Dans cet ouvrage collectif rédigé sous la direction de Per Ronnas, directeur du Nordic Institute of Asian Studies de Copenhague et de Bhargavi Ramamurthy ...
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Directeur de recherche au Centre d'étude de la vie politique française (CEVIPOF), l'auteur nous livre ici une réflexion stimulante sur la signification de la persistance et de l'amplification du phénomène corporatif, en s'efforçant d'échapper aux jugements de valeur simplistes récurrents le concernant. Insistant d'abord sur l'importance de la dimension identitaire de la crise " multipolaire " du monde du travail, Jacques Capdevielle met en relation le corporatisme avec la réapparition des identités de métier depuis ...
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L'objectif recherché ici est une meilleure compréhension du panorama de l'industrie brésilienne. Le premier chapitre est consacré à la question du défi principal de l'économie brésilienne au cours des prochaines années qui est, sans aucun doute, l'avenir de son secteur industriel. Longtemps protégé par une politique économique de substitution des importations (1950-1970), la « décennie perdue » (1980) a révélé l'extrême fragilité du secteur et sa dépendance face à la demande extérieure. Les années 1990 ont eu ...
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Pierre Ledoux, ancien président de la BNP (Banque nationale de Paris), avait commencé sa carrière dans l'administration des Finances comme membre de la mission financière française en Extrême-Orient. Dans le récit de son existence active, il rapporte ce que, dès 1946 et les années qui ont suivi, il avait compris de la Chine. Ses observations restent très actuelles. « Les difficultés qui se sont souvent répétées dans ce pays, ne doivent pas faire oublier ses caractéristiques fondamentales. » Pour lui, elles ...
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Ce chapitre est extrait du Rapport Vigie 2016 de Futuribles International, qui propose un panorama structuré des connaissances et des incertitudes des experts que l'association a mobilisés pour explorer les évolutions des 15 à 35 prochaines années sur 11 thématiques.