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Misère du concept de "dette publique"

Baptiste Bridonneau

No 2021-21, EconomiX Working Papers from University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX

Abstract: Is the term ‘public debt’, taken in its macroeconomic dimension, the right concept for the reality it tries to capture? There is no immediate indication that macroeconomic ‘public debt’ is a debt, i.e. a reality to be paid back. Indeed, the State, with its allegedly infinite character, may continually postpone its repayment, by rolling over its public debt contracts. Saying that macroeconomic ‘public debt’ always has the properties of a debt is tantamount to naturalizing this reality in the form of a sum to be repaid, and denying the fact that it may never be. The article thus reveals the performative character of the ‘public debt’ concept: it does not acknowledge the existence of a pre-existing macroeconomic debt, but calls for it to exist as such. Hence the symbolic interest of succeeding in thinking of macroeconomic ‘public debt’ as something else than a debt. The article proposes a new concept to replace that of macroeconomic ‘public debt’.

Keywords: public debt; methodological holism; emergent properties; performativity; symbolic power (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B40 B50 H63 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 29 pages
Date: 2021
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