Cette page regroupe l'ensemble des publications de Futuribles sur cette thématique (Vigie, revue, bibliographie, études, etc.)
The Asian Crisis : A Victory for America ?
Last January Futuribles published an article which minimized the impact of the financial crisis in Asia. Its authors explained that after a phase of "instable adjustment", a new dynamic of growth was foreseeable.
François Raillon disputes this point of view. He first revisits the causes of the crisis to show that beyond strictly financial and monetary factors, it is in reality the "Asiatic model" which is thrown into doubt.
He shows that two forces are opposing each other in the Pacific region. One is American liberalism, expressed by the International Monetary Fund, the other by the apostles of an Asiatic model founded on symbiotic relationships between the State and the market. These relationships are perceived as virtuous, but they are also ambivalent, hostile to an equitable free exchange.
Concentrating on the case of Indonesia, the author denounces the perverse effects of IMF interventions. At the same time, though, he underlines how much the lack of solidarity among the Asiatic countries has made these countries vulnerable to the risk of liberalism without rules.
Finally, he underlines that the "Asiatic model" is itself in doubt, its future depending on the establishment of a new equilibrium between market forces and government intervention on one hand, and on the other, the capacity of the countries in the region to form a bloc within ASEAN.
The relative level of development of countries is frequently compared by reference to their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, and their progress is gauged as a function of growth in this value, which can account only for phenomena which can be measured in terms of money. It is nevertheless quite obvious that this indicator can hardly tell us the level of development of countries, much less the well-being of their population, their state of health, level of education, comfort and satisfaction.
Each discipline which focuses on a particular aspect of existence has developed, like economics, specific indicators which are periodically weighted to establish what are called synthetic indicators. Thus, the United Nations Development Program has been working on an Index of Human Development since 1990, which has been subjected to serious critical review.
More generally, Jean Baneth shows what the UNDP synthetic indicators are in this article. They imply some arguable trade-offs for they have to be gauged from data which are not always perfectly reliable and the correlations even less so. He underlines that the exercise is perilous, if not systematically biased by the arbitrary (even idealogical) character of choices made by the authors. Finally, having put in evidence certain abberations that these exercises contain, he shows how it is illusory and eventually dangerous to pretend to measure the level of development of countries by means of synthetic indicators.
The Japanese Gambling Economy
Along with the United States and the United Kingdom, Japan is one of the hardest working of the industrialized countries. Its leisure industry is nevertheless particularly well-developed, representing 17% of Gross National Product and 28% of household expenditures (compared to 6% in France). Within the leisure sector, gambling has a fundamental role, particularly pachinko, which alone brings in 1.4 times the revenue of the Japanese auto industry.
Thierry Ribault provides a socio-economic analysis of this activity which he considers to be very representative of the modern merchandising industry: capitalistic, highly productive, and providing lots of jobs.
He demonstrates the subtle marketing strategies of the sector, how they articulate themselves into the socio-economic context, and the demand for games of chance. He describes briefly the conciliatory attitude of the public authorities and the more restrained response of the financial sector to the rise of such an important activity.
At a time when the lack of jobs in commerce is deplored, particularly in France (cf. the note of Thomas Piketty of the Fondation Saint-Simon and the regular warning of massive layoffs which could hit the banking sector), the question which comes to mind is obviously to know whether gambling is a distinctively Japanese phenomenon, or a sector which will be part of the future of all the industrialized countries.
The Political Economy of Unmeasured Values
Are reproduced here some long extracts from a text on the political economy of unmeasured values by Bertrand de Jouvenel which were published in the Virginia Quarterly Review in 1959 and reprinted in his book Arcadia: Essays on a Better Life.
The text begins with a long quotation from Pigou reminding us that the progress of economic science demands that it be limited to those phenomena which can be measured in money terms, even though other factors (good and services given for free) are necessary to a human existence.
This text, in print for almost forty years, calls attention to the limits of national accounting (and by extension, to the value of economic indicators in general) while at the same time addresses issues of what today is called sustainable development.
La fiscalité, le chômage, la retraite anticipée, le changement climatique, les réformes japonaises et l'impact de la crise asiatique sur la compétitivité commerciale sont les grands thèmes du numéro 63 des Perspectives économiques de l'OCDE. Concernant les problèmes du vieillissement démographique et l'action à mener pour préserver la prospérité, ce numéro s'attache à un aspect essentiel : la décision concernant le moment du départ à la retraite. Le rapport du nombre de retraités au nombre de salariés ...
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Finance 2005: Four Scenarios. The Evolution of French Financial Services from 1996 to 2005
Disintermediation, computerisation, ephemeralisation, globalisation, have all been used for years in forecasting tremors in French banking and insurance. For a change, we have a text here which reveals that while French financial services may not be sheltered by important structural changes, their future for the next dozen years is largely open.
Basing themselves on a more or less liberal, social-Keynesian evolution in the socio-economic context and the French acceptance of change, especially if it is technological, the authors sketch four scenarios for the years to 2005. They have characterized them as "cautious liberalism", "social harmony", an "exploratory society" or "blocked society".
The thought processes are not detailed, but four images are briefly described, each time in three dimensions (values and lifestyles; household incomes, consumption and savings; the socio-economic context), inferring consequences for banks and financial institutions. The possible futures for these institutions, according to the authors, remain very diverse and ultimately much more dependent on domestic variables than we usually imagine.
Globalisation and Governance: The Challenge of Planetary Public Regulation
Globalisation is not a new phenomenon, but it has now attained unprecedented amplitude, manifested particularly in economic and financial domains. At the same time it is asymetric rather than universal. Deep inequalities are a consequence, accompanied by a major challenge: governance in a context of interdependence.
The inequalities are particularly gripping, says Valaskakis. For not only do we have a divergence between rich and poor that is all the more shocking given the general level of opulence, but also a growing disparity between those who are able to participate in the system and those who are excluded. These extremes are inducing a dangerous fracture.
It is happening amid a sense that we are powerlessness to manage interdependence, reflected, for example, in the planetary ecosystem and global cyberspace.
The author has nonetheless sketched three scenarios to illustrate possible modes of regulation:
- The first of these seems most probable today. It is characterized by the decline of traditional regulatory structures maintained by the state, the rise of transnational, stateless enterprises and the development of a merciless competitive rivalry which must be suicidal in the end.
- The second would be characterized by the creation of mechanisms and institutions of governance on a planetary scale. But, observes the author, intergovernmental institutions form a mosaic of little coherence, paralyzed from the inside.
- The third scenario would be characterized by the adoption of governance systems at the regional (supra-national) level, on an appropriate economic and social scale (and with the reservation that those regions endow themselves with a minimum of protection against external aggression).
This third scenario is the one which permits the best reconciliation of the desirable and the possible. The European Union could put it in place and thus prefigure the creation of regional political spaces, which would then negociate a new planetary order among themselves. Nothing is yet in play, though; everything remains to be done.
Le présent article est consacré à une comparaison de la structure, des principales spécifications et des propriétés des modèles macro-économiques de grande taille que cinq institutions (Banque de France, Direction de la prévision, École centrale, INSEE, OFCE) utilisent régulièrement pour réaliser des prévisions et des évaluations macro-économiques. Ce sont les choix de modélisation par domaine ou par variable qui sont à l'origine des principales différences entre les résultats obtenus avec chaque modèle. Ces spécificités sont décrites par découpage des ...
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Is Capitalism Too Productive ?
Paul Krugman vigorously denounces the rise of an economic doctrine which he calls "global glut" and the inauspicious policies it inspires, which prefer to throttle the growth of production and share scarcity more equitably.
This doctrine, he says, is based on the idea that we suffer from an excess of supply relative to demand, thanks in part to productivity gains in the industrialized countries and the assurance of continued growth of output from the newly industrialized countries. It is a lacklustre doctrine all the same.
It is a doctrine which cannot withstand analysis, says Krugman.
- First, because if production capacity is in fact growing in OECD countries, it is still less than the rate achieved in the thirty glorious years.
- Next, the idea that demand would be insufficient (for lack of income or the saturation of needs) is negated by the dynamism of supply, which assures that people always consume, if not the same old products, then the new products and services.
- Finally, because the newly industrialized countries, regardless of their growing contribution to total supply, are far from having attained self-sufficiency. On the contrary, their needs are immense, and as their economies grow so also do purchasing power and consumption, more rapidly even than production.
Thailand, a Salutary Crisis ?
The West, with the World Bank in lead, has maintained two illusions about a Thai miracle : that it was a triumph of capitalism assisted by good governance. In fact, it rose on a wave of foreign investment which stimulated exports and overheated the economy.
The crisis which unfolded over the summer of 1997 should have been foreseen for three reasons which were overlooked by observers:
- They mistook growth for development. The commercial success of the country obscured its industrial and technological weakness, its shortage of skilled workers, and the degree to which corruption was feeding the speculation.
- They overestimated the process of democratization and allowed themselves to be deceived by appearances: referendums and multi-party elections gave the appearance of change without shifting the groups which held power on the basis of more or less corrupt alliances (especially within the middle classes).
- They didn't understand that the accelerated modernization (frenetic consumerism, for example) challenged traditional values and behaviour and left too little time for a deeper social adaptation.
The crisis, though, however deep it may be, could turn out to be salutary in the long term if Thailand makes effective use of three main political, economic and social assets:
- by virtue of its strategic geographic position in Asia it could play a pivotal role in greater regional trade flows, which should receive a boost from the establishment of a free trade zone in the ASEAN;
- the rise of industrial structures and an entrepreneurial middle class blessed by important investments in education is assurance of real dynamism which will restore confidence;
- finally, the rise of a true middle class to make real pressure for not only economic reform but also for socio-political changes to sanitize a public administration system that has up to now been very corrupt.
S. Boisseau du Rocher and J.C. Simon are being deliberately optimistic. They maintain that artificial growth could be followed by a true dynamic of development and democratization, emerging from a period of adjustment which is certain to be painful for the short term.
Between the Best of All Worlds and the End of the Nation State
It has become commonplace to predict the decline of the nation state by pointing to the destructive effect - yet another - of globalization. For the American political scientist Roger Masters the problem is more profound. If one examines the evolution since the 16th century of the practical and theoretical knowledge necessary for the operation of a society, one realizes that the innovations that have simultaneously revolutionized the communication of ideas and the use of contraints have worked at the dawn of modernity in favour of nation states and now to their detriment have made them more and more vulnerable internally and externally. The gulf in knowledge between the elite and the general public tends moreover to widen. This can only foster the impression of an uncontrollable future benefiting extremist doctrines with their soothing certitudes. It is, of course, possible to try to restore stability and predictability by even more systematic recourse to biochemical and genetic technologies, but the "brave new world" which would result would be unbearable in the long term.
Masters has not tried to give any details of this outline of an evil alternative, but we eagerly expect what he means by "proto-Western premodern lifestyle" which is the lesser evil we can hope for in the future.
The author of this article is Professor of Political Science at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. The essence of his work uses ethology (science of animal behaviour) to shed new light on major issues in political philosophy. In addition he has made a critical translation of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In June 1997 Futuribles published a review by Jacques Richardson on his most recent book Machiavelli, Leornado and the Science of Power.
Brain Drain, Return and Diasporas
Developing countries have been complaining for a long time about a brain drain to countries of the North. Their scientific elites are attracted by better opportunity, so their young people go North in search of education.
Jacques & Anne-Marie Gaillard point out, however, that the perception of this phenomenon has evolved. Many authors are now aware that these expatriates have the potential of forming diasporas which can be mobilized for the benefit of their countries of origin. They also make the point that the benefit of such diasporas is conditional on the welcome that the elites receive in their home countries when they return. Some of these countries, especially those which are experiencing rapid development, have been able to mobilize their researchers abroad, and even incite them to come back. Others, however, are still suffering from an emigration caused by economic, political and scientific factors.
This text demonstrates the ambiguity of a complex phenomenon which has led to contradictory analyses. It has the advantage of showing how, under some circumstances, a handicap can be transformed into an opportunity.
When the World Bank Wakes up
The World Bank, official leader of the free market chorus, has finally acknowledged in its annual Report on Development for 1997 the usefulness of public institutions and especially of the state, which has played a determining role in the take-off of the rapidly developing countries of South-East Asia.
René Lenoir congratulates the Bank, while encouraging even more effort of this kind from the "gentlemen of Washington". Instead of escaping into financial speculation, they should focus on strategies of development which take into account human needs and local conditions.
Lenoir criticizes in passing the general incoherence of annual reports published by international institutions, and urges them to a collective effort of rethinking development.
The Impact of an Aging Population: Commentary on the OECD Report: "Aging in OECD Countries"
Several recent studies have attempted to forecast the effects of demographic aging, especially on public expenditures for retirement and health.
This article presents and discusses briefly the results of the study by OECD published in 1996 entitled "Demographic Aging in OECD Countries".
Readers will notice that boxes in the text provide the results of another study. This one, directed by Gerard Calot and Jean-Claude Chesnais, uses a different methodology, to isolate the "strict effect" of demographic aging in the European Union towards 2050.
Cet ouvrage se fonde sur une étude de 1200 pages de la cellule prospective de la Commission européenne régulièrement remise à jour depuis 1995, à partir d'analyses de chercheurs russes. Après avoir expliqué pourquoi un retour au communisme en Russie est très improbable, les auteurs présentent cinq scénarios d'avenir pour ce pays et expliquent, pour chacun d'entre eux, quelles en sont les forces motrices et les éléments de rupture. Dans le premier scénario (le maintien tant bien ...
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Dans les années 20, l'économiste soviétique N.D. Kondratieff étudiant la dynamique longue de l'économie capitaliste, élaborait une construction statistique montrant la succession de « vagues ascendantes » et de « vagues descendantes », en matière de prix, salaires, innovations..., depuis la fin du XVIIIe siècle. Une décennie plus tard, J. Schumpeter rendit hommage à ce travail en donnant le nom de Kondratieff (alors déporté en Sibérie où il mourra) aux cycles longs d'origine technologique que lui-même définissait dans son ouvrage ...
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Combattre l'exclusion porte sur quatre pays : Australie, Finlande, Royaume-Uni et Suède, qui ont des revenus par habitant comparables mais sont dotés de systèmes de sécurité sociale très différents. Par exemple : - La Finlande et la Suède ont un système national d'assurance sociale très étendu qui sert des prestations liées aux revenus antérieurs et non pas aux ressources du moment. - En Australie, le système de sécurité sociale, quoique très étendu également, ne verse que des prestations forfaitaires et les droits ...
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Dans sa dernière contribution à la revue, le célèbre financier et philanthrope revient sur le capitalisme sans entraves, précisant que "les bénéfices de l'actuel système capitaliste globalisé ne seront durables qu'en faisant des efforts délibérés et persistants pour corriger et empêcher les déficiences du système". Ces problèmes se répartissent en 5 points : 1) les bénéfices du capitalisme international sont inégalement répartis ; 2) les marchés financiers, en particulier internationaux, sont par nature instables ; le risque de crise est fortement ...
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Cet ouvrage émane du département d'études en écologie de l'université de Cambridge. S'inscrivant dans le champ de la méthodologie, il cherche à modeler un écosystème terrestre incluant l'homme et couvrant plusieurs milliers d'années. L'auteur part des prémisses selon lesquelles les systèmes écologiques subissent continuellement des changements riches et complexes, et les tentatives de stabilisation de notre environnement font souvent fausse route. Dans la mesure où le monde n'est donc pas statique, il importe ...
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La présente étude a pour objet de préciser les défis que devront relever les Canadiens au cours des dix à quinze prochaines années en vue de créer et d'exploiter des occasions d'investir. Étant donné l'activité qui mène à la formation de capital, l'investissement est un agent important de la croissance de la productivité et de la production. La formation de capital augmente la productivité du travail et le revenu car elle fournit les outils qui permettent ...
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The Myth of French Neoconservatism. The National Front Vote and the Evolution of Values
Increasing popularity of the Front National in legislative elections since 1986 has been interpreted by some as a neoconservative turn in French society toward xenophobic, authoritarian, and traditionalist values. Etienne Schweisguth demonstrates here that the interpretation is flawed, and that in fact liberal, anti-authoritarian humanism is on the rebound. The FN owes its success, he points out, to being the only party with a radical mandate. It is a natural magnet for all those who have been marginalized: the uneducated are the principal victims of exclusion and insecurity.
Schweisguth uses birth cohorts and generation effects as the basis of his analysis, which is a more pertinent approach to identifying trends than one based on age and time period. It allows him to demonstrate that authoritarian values are on the decline in French society and that the rise of liberal humanitarism is linked to better education and the spread of the ideas of the enlightment.
Making use of 1978, 1988, 1995 and 1997 surveys conducted by the CEVIPOF, he stresses that FN success at the polls is due mainly to protest votes from the least favoured. Their vote is not so much an endorsement of the ideas of the FN as it is the expression of deep discontent over socio-economic changes which leave them out in the cold.
Schweisguth concludes that more resources for education and the reinsertion of the excluded into society will be a more effective counter to further FN gains than the appropriation of its themes by democratic parties, whether of the right or of the left.
Au cours des premières décennies du prochain millénaire, la Chine pourrait retrouver son rang de première économie mondiale du point de vue de la population et du PIB (produit intérieur brut). Angus Maddison, auteur de L'économie mondiale au XXe siècle rappelle que la Chine a occupé cette place pendant neuf siècles sur les dix derniers. Le siècle qui vient de s'écouler est l'exception et non la règle, tel est le message de L'économie chinoise : une perspective ...
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Cet ouvrage collectif développe l'idée selon laquelle le marché du travail serait déterminé différemment, dans chaque société, selon la manière dont les acteurs individuels et collectifs sont construits. C'est ce constat d'un effet sociétal - né d'un travail commun entre économistes et sociologues et reprenant l'essentiel de la pensée de J.J Silvestre (disparu en 1995) - qui amène les auteurs à redéfinir le rôle des acteurs et de l'entreprise à l'égard de l'emploi ...
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Le premier rapport (1995) avait pour objectif de réaliser un outil permettant une analyse stratégique du positionnement du Portugal dans l'Union européenne en construction. Cette étude, comportant l'élaboration de scénarios stratégiques, a été menée pour mettre en équation le positionnement du Portugal « dans le nouveau aménagement du territoire européen, dans les choix de développement, dans les moyens possibles et les outils nécessaires, prenant en compte ses intérêts en fonction des possibles changements dans l'orientation de la politique ...
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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.
- Les nouvelles routes de la soie, entre discours et réalité
- Le cyberespace, un outil d’influence à la portée de tous ?